(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Authorities arrested two refugees — one in Sacramento and one in Houston — Thursday on terror-related charges, according to the Department of Justice.
Sacramento resident Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab was arrested on charges of making a false statement involving international terrorism, according to the Department of Justice. The 23-year-old allegedly traveled overseas to fight alongside terrorist organizations and lied to U.S. authorities about his activities, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in a release.
Authorities allege Al-Jayab, a Palestinian born in Iraq, traveled to Syria to fight with terrorist organizations in the area. There is no indication that he planned an act of terrorism in the United States.
Al-Jayab came to the United States as a refugee in October 2012. While he was living in Arizona between October 2012 and November 2013, he communicated with numerous other individuals over social media about his intent to return to Syria to fight for terrorist organizations, the complaint said.
On Oct. 30, 2012, Al-Jayab allegedly told an individual over social media to find him a way into Syria if he flew to Turkey.
“I want them to help me financially so I can return,” he allegedly wrote the next day to different individual.
On March 13, 2013, Al-Jayab allegedly asked someone how he could enter Syria with an American passport, the complaint said. Up until October of that year, he allegedly discussed weaponry tactics with several individuals online.
He then flew from Chicago to Istanbul, Turkey on Nov. 9, 2013 and entered Syria, authorities said. On Dec. 17 of that year, he allegedly told someone that he was “afraid of being imprisoned in America [because] the government is alert for everything, [and] my trip here constitutes a charge.”
Al-Jayab allegedly reported on social media that he was in Syria fighting with various terrorist organizations including Ansar al-Islam between November 2013 and January 2014, according to the complaint. He returned to the U.S. via London and Los Angeles on Jan. 23, 2014 and settled in Sacramento.
When Al-Jayab was interviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Oct. 6, 2014, he denied that he had ever been a member of any rebel group or militia; had ever provided material support for any person or group engaged in terrorist activity; and that he had been a member of a group, or assisted in a group, which used or threatened the use of weapons against others.
Al-Jayab also allegedly stated that he visited Syria to visit his grandmother, the complaint said, which alleges that all of the statements he made were false.
If convicted, Al-Jayab faces eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine. There is no current threat to public safety associated with this arrest, said the spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a Palestinian national born in Iraq, allegedly attempted to provide material support and resources to ISIS, according to a criminal complaint.
Al Hardan came to the U.S. in November 2009 from Iraq as a refugee and was granted permanent legal status in August 2011. During his interview to become a naturalized citizen in Texas on Aug. 14, 2014, he stated he was not in any way associated with a terrorist organization and that he had never received any weapons training, which was not true, the complaint said.
The complaint said that he was associated with ISIL through 2014 and the al-Nusrah Front in 2013 and 2014.
It was not clear if either suspect had representation.
The FBI encouraged the public to voice their concerns to law enforcement if they encounter individuals who express an intent to do harm or claim allegiance to a terrorist group.
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