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Former FBI leader recalls Nagi's ties to Lackawanna Six

Photo from Peter Ahearn's Linkedin page

Lackawanna is back in the news, with the arrest of a Steel City man on accusations of terrorism support. Peter Ahearn, who led the Buffalo FBI office during the arrest of the Lackawanna Six, offered perspective.

For the FBI, Arafat Nagi wasn't a new name when he surfaced in an investigation of those potentially helping the self-proclaimed Islamic State. He was involved with the Lackawanna Six, the six young Yemeni-American men who went to prison for their involvement with Al Qaeda and training in a terrorist training camp.

"In all the years that have passed, he never really took things into his own hands," said Ahearn as he reviewed some of his experience as special-agent-in-charge of the Buffalo FBI office at the time.

"Whether or not he would go over there and fight with people, I believe he would do something like that before he would do something here. Because he knows how the FBI works and I'm really surprised that he was so obvious in doing what he was doing."

Ahearn says he's going to be interested to find out where Nagi has been in the years since 2002 when he was so involved with his six friends but was not charged, possibly because he couldn't afford the trip to the Al Qaeda camp.

Dr. Khalid Qazi is a local Muslim leader who visited the Steel City Wednesday after Nagi was arrested. Qazi says Nagi has kept a low profile.
"He has not been attending the mosque in Lackawanna for at least three years, if not more. So, he hasn't been very visible in the community there. He hasn't been very involved in the community there. He hasn't been coming to worship in the mosque. He hasn't been seen at important holy days and holidays," said Qazi.

 Qazi says it is impossible to say what an individual might be doing in the privacy of his own home.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.