The U.S. Attorneys Office confirms federal agents were involved in a “national security arrest” today in Sacramento and a second in Houston.
The suspect arrested in Sacramento has been identified the U.S. Attorney’s Office as 23-year-old Aws Mohammad Younis Al-Jayab. He was born in Iraq and emigrated from Syria to the United States as a refugee in October 2012.
The criminal complaint alleges Al-Jayab lied to federal agents about traveling to the Middle East, where he is believed to have associated with members of a terrorist organization.
He reportedly told investigators that in late 2013 he went to Turkey to visit his grandmother, but they said he continued from Turkey to Syria. Investigators say prior to the trip, Al-Jayab communicated with another person that he was “going with the Mujahidin,” or Islamic guerrilla fighters.
The complaint alleges that on January 2, 2014, Al-Jayab allegedly wrote to an unnamed individual, “I have been thinking of joining the State and abandon[ing] the al-Ansar.” He explained that he was familiar with Ansar al-Islam, which the U.S. Attorney’s office says is a Sunni terrorist group in Iraq, because he “used to work with them in Iraq,” and his “commander” came to Syria from Iraq.
Investigators believe “the State” he was referring to is ISIS.
Al-Jayab faces a long list of federal charges, which include being a member of, and assisting a rebel group, militia, or insurgent organization; soliciting membership for a terrorist group or organization and providing material support to a person or group that engages in criminal activity; calling for, helping with, or committing the killing and intentional and severe injury of a person; becoming a member of a group in which he used or threatened to use a weapon against a person; and assisting a group where other people used or threatened to use a weapon against any person.
“Who he was fighting, what his goals were, are still unclear, but the FBI has stated that he wasn’t planning an attack on us. This was an individual going back home as an Iraqi to fight what he perceived as corrupt rule,” said terrorist expert Flagg Miller.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott used the arrest of the Houston suspect to reinforce his position against immigration from countries “controlled by terrorists.”
“I applaud the FBI for today’s arrest of this dangerous subject. However, 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.”