Two men, one in California and one in Texas, were arrested this week on charges of assisting Islamic terror groups and lying to investigators.
Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento and Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, of Houston were both indicted this week after being watched by federal officials.
According to the filed complaint, Al-Jayab, 23, was born in Iraq and emigrated to the U.S. from Syria in 2012. However, soon after his arrival, Al-Jayab began communicating with others about returning to Syria to “work,” which investigators believe is a reference to joining a terror organization.
In 2013, he wrote to one of his connections, “O God, grant us martyrdom for your sake while engaged in fighting and not retreating; a martyrdom that would make you satisfied with us.”
“I was a little over 16 years old. My tribe, half of them are Mujahidin,” Al-Jayab replied when asked when he joined jihad. “I did not find any difficulty to get to Al-Jihad.”
He traveled to Turkey in November 2013 and crossed into Syria, and returned to the U.S. in January 2014. However, officials allege that Al-Jayab lied on the customs form in stating that he had traveled to Jordan and the UK. He was interviewed months later by officials, including the FBI, and stated that he traveled to Turkey but denied entering Syria.
Al-Jayab is now being accused of lying to federal investigators, including surrounding his involvement in international terrorism. He was taken into custody on Thursday.
Al Hardan migrated to the U.S. in 2009 from Iraq as a 17-year-old, and was granted status as a legal resident in 2011. He is being accused of lying during an interview with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in stating that he never received weapons training in Iraq, as officials believe that he had received training on how to fire an automatic machine gun.
While his filed complaint, which was just unsealed this week, does not provide as many specifics as the filing for Al-Jayab, Al Hardan is believed to have been providing material support to ISIS since May 2014. He was taken into custody on Wednesday, but his family states that he is innocent.
“He don’t work with ISIS. Nobody like ISIS. … ISIS is a big problem,” Al Hardan’s brother, Saeed Al Hardan, 37, told WTRK-TV.
The FBI says that it does not believe either suspect was planning an attack in the U.S.