Two Northern California men, one a refugee from the Middle East, the other raised in the affluent Silicon Valley community of Santa Clara, unknown to each other and unrelated, and with their only apparent connection being their roles in our current troubled times and the nation’s ongoing terrorism worries, were both in the news on the same day.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago on Thursday announced the indictment of Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, a 23-year-old refugee from the Middle East who eventually settled in Sacramento, on terror-related charges. Also on Thursday, the FBI released more details of its investigation into Faisal Mohammad, a 19-year-old college student who was shot dead by police after a stabbing rampage at the University of California, Merced last fall.
Al-Jayab was indicted by federal jurors for allegedly attempting to provide support to overseas terrorists. Prosecutors say he flew from Chicago to Turkey in November of 2013, then later entered Syria, according to the indictment, to help “kidnap, maim, or injure persons outside the United States.” If convicted, Al-Jayab could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The charges in Chicago come after Al-Jayab was indicted by a federal jury in Sacramento in January over allegations that he had lied to federal investigators about traveling to Syria to fight for a terror group. Al-Jayab acknowledged flying to Turkey in late 2013 and early 2014, but said he had gone to visit his grandmother.
In the matter involving Mohammad, he was not linked to terrorism but rather, the FBI said, he may “have self-radicalized and drawn inspiration from terrorist propaganda,” before stabbing four people on the U.C. Merced campus in November of last year.
“During this investigation no information has been developed that Mohammad was working with, or directed by, anyone in conducting this attack,” the FBI said in a statement Thursday.
FBI investigators say at the time of the stabbings, the university freshman was carrying a backpack which contained a handwritten plan detailing his intentions to take hostages and to kill students and police officers. Investigators also found a photocopy of an ISIL flag and a list of items Mohammad thought he would need for an attack such as zip ties, glass breaker, and a knife among his belongings.
Mohammad was shot and killed by university police as he ran across campus after the stabbings. The four people stabbed, two students, a university staffer and an outside contractor, survived their injuries.
A graduate of Santa Clara’s Wilcox High School only a few months earlier, Mohammad was described as quiet, with high school friend Ish Patel telling The San Jose Mercury News in an interview in November he was a “great guy.”
The federal government says Al-Jayab was born in Iraq, then emigrated from Syria to the United States as a refugee in 2012.