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Lackawanna man accused of supporting ISIS ruled competent for trial

Arafat M. Nagi, the Lackawanna man accused of supporting ISIS, was ruled competent to stand trial Thursday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott pointed to a mental health evaluation of Nagi in deciding the defendant is able to understand the charges against him and help in his own defense.

Scott said the evaluation, done by two mental health professionals, was comprehensive and clear in its conclusion that Nagi is able to confront the allegations that he tried to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

The evaluation was ordered by Scott after Nagi’s defense lawyer indicated both he and his client’s family were concerned about Nagi’s competency. The attorney would not elaborate at the time, except to say there were certain communications between him and Nagi that gave rise to his request for a mental health exam.

“He’s in a different facility now and he tells me things are better,” defense attorney Jeremy A. Schwartz said Thursday.

Prosecutors did not oppose Schwartz’s request for an exam, but indicated at the time that they had seen no indication that Nagi couldn’t help in his own defense. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch repeated that assertion Thursday.

“It’s obvious Mr. Nagi is competent to stand trial,” Lynch told Scott.

Nagi was arrested in July after an FBI investigation concluded he was preparing to leave for Turkey and eventually travel to Syria to serve with ISIS, also known as ISIL.

He is born in the United States to immigrants from Yemen.

The FBI also claims Nagi posted pro-ISIS photos on social media and has indicated support for the group’s acts of violence.

Schwartz, when asked why Nagi might have been going to Turkey, has said in the past that he has family in Yemen.