Federal authorities arrested two men in California and Texas on Friday including a man who is a refugee from Syria and is now charged with lying to federal investigators about his travels to the Syria civil war. Law enforcement say there was no plot to carry out attacks within the United States and also said no Americans were in any real danger. An unsealed criminal complaint charges Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab of traveling back to Syria to fight and lying to investigators about it. Prosecutors say he assisted a group that allied with ISIS.
The U.S. Attorney based in Houston, confirmed that Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan was indicted on three charges that he attempted to provide material support to extremists. Both men are Palestinians born in Iraq, authorities said. The complaint in federal court in Sacramento said Al-Jayab came to the United States from Syria as a refugee in October 2012. Law enforcement has no indication that Al Hardan was an immediate threat to the United States but his arrest drew strong criticism of the White House’s refugee policies from Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists. I once again urge the President to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans.”
Al-Jayab communicated on social media about his intent to return to Syria to fight for terrorist organizations and discussed his previous experience fighting against the regime in Syria, starting shortly after he turned 16. Investigators say that Al-Jayab wrote in 2013, that he was eager to see blood. The FBI says in an affidavit that Al-Jayab left the United States that year but came to Sacramento in January 2014. Social media and other accounts say that as soon as he arrived in the United States, he began saying he wanted to return to Syria to “work,” which the FBI says is believed to be a reference “to assisting in and supporting violent jihad.”
Authorities said he eventually fought with various terrorist organizations, including Ansar al-Islam, which in 2014 merged with ISIS after Al-Jayab had returned to the United States. Authorities have remained silent on how Al-Jayab and Al Hardan are connected. However, the affidavit says Al-Jayab communicated with an unnamed individual living in Texas in April 2013 to see if he could receive training in various weapons. Federal officials say three separate arrests in Milwaukee on Thursday grew out of the Sacramento investigation but are not related to national security.The suspects in Wisconsin are relatives of the man arrested in Sacramento, said Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento.