A man from Mesquite, Texas, who lied to the FBI about pledging allegiance to an Islamic State terrorist leader has been sentenced by a federal court to four years in prison.
Bilal Abood served as a former U.S. military translator in Iraq before moving to the United States in n2009. He was sentenced to spend four years in a federal prison after he lied to an FBI investigator about pledging support to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He sent a tweet pledging his support to the Islamic State. He also lied about travel plans to Syria, the Dallas Morning News reported on Wednesday.
Breitbart News National Security Editor John Hayward reported one-year ago that the naturalized American citizen had been living in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite prior to his arrest. He was licensed to work as a security guard.
Abood has been on the counter-terrorist radar screen since 2013, when he was prevented from boarding a flight to the Middle East at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and interviewed by the FBI. He initially claimed he wanted to visit his family in Iraq, but later admitted his intention was to make his way to Syria and take up arms against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. At the time, he said his sympathies lay with the Free Syrian Army, a prominent “moderate” rebel group supported by the U.S. government.
When he returned to the U.S. from Syria in September 2014, Abood told the FBI he became frustrated with a lack of action,” so he gave up and returned to the U.S., Hayward reported.
Assistant U.S. Attorney (ASA) Mark Penley said Abood made “abominable” comments in his tweets but never suggested anything about planning a terror attack, the Dallas newspaper reported Wednesday. U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade called the man a “goofball” and an “odd character” who did some stupid things.
The former Iraqi translator pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to a federal agency in October 2015, information obtained by Breitbart Texas from the FBI revealed. He could have faced up to eight years in federal prison and a $25,000 fine.
“He falsely told FBI special agents that he had never pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi,” the FBI statement read. “He also stipulates that he was aware the FBI special agents were investigating a matter that they suspected could involve international terrorism.”
Abood, an Iraqi born Sunni turned American citizen said he made the tweets to engage in an online fight between Sunni and Shia Twitter posters. He said his intent was to “piss off” the Shia posters. Abood told Judge Kinkeade, “Sir, I love my country. I did more than a lot of people who live here.” This was possibly a reference to his service as a military translator. He was able to obtain a visa to move to the U.S. because of his service. In 2010, he joined the U.S. Army but left when the Army would not allow him to travel to Iraq to see his sick mother, the Dallas news outlet reported.
The former Iraqi said he wanted to travel to Syria to fight alongside the “Free Syrian Army” a group which opposes ISIS. When asked by the judge why he would want to inject himself into a war zone, Abood replied, “I’m a human. I had to do something. I thought with my heart.”
The judge continued his line of questioning with Abood saying that he could have lived in the U.S. as a free man but instead chose “to go back to that hellhole.”
“I don’t get it, Kinkeade said. He went on to tell the convicted man, “Quit being stupid.”
An apparently sympathetic judge let him off with a 4-year sentence. With time already served in jail, his attorney says he could be out in two years.