The Iraqi-born refugee living in Houston, who was convicted for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State and swore his allegiance to the designated foreign terrorist organization, was sentenced to serve 16 years in federal prison.
On Monday, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 25, stood before United States District Judge Lynn Hughes. She sentenced Al Hardan to 192-months, which is 16 years, behind bars. Al Hardan has been and will continue to stay in custody pending his transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Upon completion of his sentence, he will remain on supervised release for the rest of his life.
Hughes also accepted his guilty plea on October 17, 2016. At that time, Al Hardan admitted he tried to provide material support or resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Any person who provides material support to a foreign terrorist organization will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Abe Martinez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. “Al Hardan’s actions were treacherous and completely antithetical to the freedoms we as U.S. citizens value.”
Martinez continued: “The sentence imposed today reflects the Department of Justice’s resolve to seek out and punish all violators who would give aid and comfort to international terrorists.”
Al Hardan, a Palestinian national, was born in Iraq on December 25, 1991, as Breitbart Texas reported. He came to the U.S. as an Iraqi refugee in November 2009 and, on or about August 22, 2011, he became a legal permanent resident living in Houston.
Breitbart Texas also reported:
According to prosecutors, Al Hardan applied to become a naturalized citizen in 2014 and lied during the process. In one of his forms known as the N-400, the refugee claimed to not have any military or weapons training when he had received instruction with automatic weapons. Another charge revealed that Al Hardan claimed to not have any affiliation with terrorist organizations–however the indictment notes that he was a member of al-Nusrah and ISIS.
According to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in April 2014, federal agents began investigating Al Hardan who had been communicating with a California man whom he understood was associated with the Islamic terrorist organization known as the Al-Nusrah Front. In those conversations, the individual told Al Hardan that he previously traveled to Syria to fight for Al-Nusrah and discussed plans to return with Al Hardan.
Al Hardan also developed a relationship with a government informant with whom he talked about joining ISIS. During their talks, Al Hardan told the informant that he taught himself how to make remote detonators by accessing online training videos and showed-off a circuit board that he built to be used as a transmitter for a bomb.
On November 5, 2014, Al Hardan took an oath of loyalty to the Islamic State, according to information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Two days later, Al Hardan and a Confidential Human Source (CHS) participated in roughly an hour of tactical weapons training with an AK-47 that Al Hardan indicated he wanted.
Al Hardan posted many statements on social media in support of the Islamic State, according to federal prosecutors. One of those included a photo of a Humvee with an ISIL flag. Above the photo, Al Hardan posted: “ISIS yesterday in Iraq, today in Syria and Allah willing, tomorrow in Jerusalem.” He made numerous statements about his plans to travel to Syria and fight alongside ISIL and become a martyr. He also said: “I want to blow myself up. I want to travel with the Mujahidin. I want to travel to be with those who are against America. I am against America.”
At the time of his arrest in January 2016, investigators discovered training CDs on how to build remote detonators, electronic circuitry components, tools used to build circuitry, multiple cell phones that had not been activated, a prayer list for committing Jihad and becoming a martyr, plus the ISIL flag.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led the investigation on this case with the assistance of the Houston Police Department.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.