HOUSTON, Texas – An Iraqi refugee was arrested in Houston, Texas, today in connection with an alleged terrorist plot, including support to the Islamic State.
The three-count indictment charges Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully, and making false statements, according to a statement from the FBI obtained by Breitbart Texas.
Al Hardan, a Palestinian born in Iraq, entered the United States as a refugee in November, 2009, the FBI stated. He was granted permanent resident status on or about August 22, 2011.
Another Iraqi has been arrested in Sacramento, according to the Sacramento Bee. It was reported that the man, Aws Mohamed Younis Al-Jayab, was arrested because he lied to immigration authorities over his relationship to the Islamic State and his travel to Syria. According to the federal criminal complaint filed in California obtained by Breitbart, he emigrated from Syria to the United States.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, “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,” the governor added.
Likewise, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick expressed the same concern that state officials have previously voiced with regard to the vetting of refugees from the Middle East.
Patrick said in a statement, “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.”
“This is exactly what we have repeatedly told the Obama administration could happen and why we do not want refugees coming to Texas,” Patrick added. “There are serious questions about who these people really are, as evidenced by [these] events.”
Patrick said that in October 2015, he charged the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with studying the impact of the increasing number of refugees relocating to Texas, as well as the state’s ability to mitigate the burden of providing state funded services.
The FBI released the following statement:
The indictment alleges that Al Hardan attempted to provide material support and resources, including training, expert advice and assistance, and personnel—specifically himself—to a known foreign terrorist organization. According to the allegations, he also knowingly responded, certified and swore untruthfully on his formal application when applying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. He allegedly represented that he was not associated with a terrorist organization when, in fact, he associated with members and sympathizers of ISIL throughout 2014, according to the charges. The indictment further alleges that during an interview in October 2015, Al Hardan falsely represented that he had never received any type of weapons training, when he allegedly received automatic machine gun training.
The charge of attempting to provide material support to terrorists carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The charge of false citizenship procurement carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison (if the offense was committed to facilitate an act of international terrorism). The charge of making false statements carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. If convicted, any potential sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.
Texas Governor Abbott wrote President Obama a letter in mid-November saying, “Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being resettled in Texas. Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas. And I urge you, as President, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price in late November, the Obama Administration got back in the face of Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the other governors who said they would not accept Syrian refugees in their states. The governors were told they must take the Syrian refugees whether they wanted to or not.
During a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) revealed concerns expressed by national security leaders of the Obama Administration about their ability to properly screen refugees, Breitbart Texas reported. Two cabinet officials told the committee their agencies use exhaustive resources to check biometric data and other background information against U.S. intelligence and law enforcement databases and international data. However, they said, there is simply no way to verify information for a potential terrorist who has not yet shown up on the international intelligence radar screen.
Al Hardan will make his first court appearance at 10 a.m. Friday, according to the FBI statement.
This article has been updated.
Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge. Follow her @LanaShadwick2