US man charged over attempt to join Al Shabab after October 7 attack on Israel

The 23-year-old was arrested in Kenya after telling an FBI confidential source of his plan to join the militant group

New Jersey resident Karrem Nasr intended to train with Al Shabab (pictured), prosecutors in New York said. AP
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A US citizen arrested in Kenya has been charged with trying to aid militant Islamist group Al Shabab, allegedly motivated by Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel.

New Jersey resident Karrem Nasr was taken into custody in Nairobi on December 14 and brought to the United States on Thursday, the Justice Department said in a statement on Friday.

The 23-year-old is believed to have moved to Egypt around July, and exchanged messages with an FBI confidential source in which he expressed his intent to join Al Shabab to receive military training and “engage in jihad”, the statement said.

Nasr been charged with “attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation”. This carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

The United States designates Al Shabab as a “foreign terrorist organisation”.

“As alleged, Karrem Nasr, motivated by the heinous terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas on October 7, devoted himself to waging violent jihad against America and its allies,” US Attorney Damian Williams said.

Nasr travelled from Egypt to Kenya “bent on joining and training with Al Shabab”, prosecutors said.

He had been thinking about “engaging in jihad for a long time, and he was particularly motivated to become a jihadi by the October 7, 2023 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel”, they added, citing Nasr's online postings and exchanges with the FBI source.

Nasr took steps to receive training from Al Shabab and planned to meet members of the organisation in Kenya for further travel to Somalia to join the group, the Justice Department said. He was taken into custody by Kenyan authorities.

It was not clear whether Nasr had legal representation, according to Reuters.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: December 31, 2023, 4:37 PM