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While reading a short story I found this sentence:

これは青木がからんでいると僕はすぐわかりました。青木はその松本という男が死んだことを実にうまく利用したのです

The narrator in the past punched Aoki, since Aoki spread (or so thinks the character) rumors on the narrator. Years later Matsumoto killed himself and a teacher speaks with the narrator, because Matsumoto was bullied and punched, which seems to have lead to his suicide, and the narrator goes to a boxing gym.

In the quoted sentence the narrator is guessing that Aoki used Matsumoto death to take revenge, but I can't understand 「からんでいるな」. I'm guessing 「からんでいる」 is 「絡む」 in continuous form, while 「と」 refers to 「わかる」; what about 「な」?

The only things that comes to mind is the negative imperative, but I'm not sure it fits here - if it does, I have no clue about the sentence meaning. I'm guessing it means something like "This is Aoki picking a quarrel with me", but I'm totally ignoring that 「な」. I'm not sure if any of Jisho's meaning fits, and I wasn't able to find anything relevant - it being a single kana doesn't help.

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これは青木がからんでいると僕はすぐわかりました。

『これは青木がからんでいる』と僕はすぐわかりました。

That 「な」 is a sentence-ending particle which Goo辞書 defines as:

3 活用語の終止形、助詞に付く。

㋐軽い断定・主張の意を表す。「これは失敗だな」

meaning:

Attached to terminal forms of inflecting words and other particles.

Expresses light declaration or assertion. 「これは失敗だ

Thus, this is not the negative imperative 「な」.

I'm guessing it means something like "This is Aoki picking a quarrel with me"

I am afraid that you are thinking of the other meaning of 「絡{から}む」. In this context, 「絡んでいる」 means "to be involved". You will need to remember this meaning as it is used very often for this meaning in informal speech.

Jisho seems to keep failing to serve J-learners but it never loses its popularity. 「な」 is a major sentence-ender that is used many times daily by us native speakers.

"I knew immediately that Aoki was involved in this."

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