Feds: Houston suspect involved in ISIL-related terror plot

KHOU 11's Drew Karedes reports

HOUSTON -- Federal agents in Houston and Sacramento have arrested two suspects in an ISIL-related terror plot, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

The U.S. residents were in contact with ISIL supporters overseas, according to the federal indictments.

The Houston suspect is 24-year-old Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan. He is a Palestinian born in Iraq who has lived in Houston for about a year.

Sources say Al Hardan became radicalized after moving to the U.S. in 2009. He is charged with one count each of attempting to provide material support to ISIL, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements.

"Based on the facts, as we know them, today's action may have prevented a catastrophic terror related event in the making and saved countless lives," said Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

The indictment alleges that Al Hardan attempted to provide material support and resources, including training, expert advice and assistance, and personnel to a known foreign terrorist organization.

According to the allegations, he also lied on his formal application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen by saying he was not associated with a terrorist organization.

The indictment also alleges that during an interview in October 2015, Al Hardan lied and said he'd never received any type of weapons training, when he allegedly received automatic machine gun training.

"There is no current threat to public safety associated with this arrest," Angela Dodge with the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a written statement.

The U.S. Attorney in California identified the Sacramento suspect as 23-year-old Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab.

He's accused of traveling to Syria to "take up arms with terrorist organizations." He reported his actions on social media, according to authorities.

"Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab allegedly traveled overseas to fight alongside terrorist organizations and lied to U.S. authorities about his activities," said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.

According to the complaint, Al-Jayab is also a Palestinian born in Iraq, who came to the United States as an Iraqi refugee in October 2012. He has also lived in Wisconsin and Arizona.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for tougher restrictions on refugees entering the U.S. in a statement Thursday afternoon:

"I applaud the FBI for today's arrest of this dangerous subject. However, 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."


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