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Terrorism-related arrests made in California and Texas

Two Iraqi-born refugees were charged in California and Texas with separate terrorism offenses, authorities said.

Sacramento resident Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, allegedly traveled to Syria in 2014 to fight alongside terrorists and then covered up the trip when interviewed by U.S. officials, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.

If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine.

Al-Jayab, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Syria in 2012, talked about his intent to return to the country on social media and received wire transfers to fund his travels, according to the complaint.

“America will not isolate me from my Islamic duty. Only death will do us part. My only wish is to see you and start the action,” he wrote in April 2013 to an unidentified contact likely located in Syria, the complaint said.

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That same month he and an unidentified man in Texas discussed weapons training and crossing the border into Syria together.

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Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, seen in this May 2015 photo, praised the arrests.

“O God, grant us martyrdom for your sake while engaged in fighting and not retreating,” he wrote in one message to the Texas man.

In November 2013, Al-Jayab flew from Chicago to Turkey and then traveled to Syria, federal officials allege.

Al-Jayab allegedly said he was visiting his sick grandmother while he was actually fighting with various terrorist organizations, including Ansar al-Islam, a designated foreign terrorist organization since 2004, officials said.

He returned to the United States on Jan. 23, 2014, and settled in Sacramento.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner of the Eastern District of California said in a statement Thursday that Al-Jayab did not appear to be planning any acts of terror inside the U.S.

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NRdem10/Getty Images

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento said Al-Jayab was arrested Thursday morning in Sacramento. Meanwhile, the governor and lieutenant governor of Texas praised the arrest in Houston of what Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called a terror suspect.

“While he represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country,” Wagner said.

Federal officials said three arrests in Milwaukee Thursday stemmed from the Sacramento investigation but are not related to national security.

In Texas, federal officials arrested Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, in conjunction with a three-count indictment alleging he attempted to provide material support to ISIS, made false statements to government officials and unlawfully applied for naturalization.

“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,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement.

Al Hardan entered the U.S. as a refugee in November 2009 and was granted permanent residency in August 2011, officials said. If convicted on all three charges, he faces up to 53 years behind bars.

The arrests provided new fodder in the debate over whether American officials are doing enough to vet and track refugees who emigrate from countries where terror groups have taken root.

“This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told the Houston Chronicle in a statement. “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.” 

Tags:
fbi ,
terrorism ,
california ,
texas ,
syria ,
fraud

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Nation / World – NY Daily News

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