Please follow me here.
Two Iraqi refugees in the U.S. were arrested on Thursday for supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East. These arrests take place as concern about the ability of the federal government to thoroughly screen refugee applicants gained national attention after the Paris terrorist attack.
FBI Director, James Comey, has repeatedly said that the U.S. does not have the ability to thoroughly screen Syrian refugees for terrorist ties. Yet, even with access to the Iraqi databases both of these men passed the screening procedures to enter the U.S. as refugees.
Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, was arrested in Sacramento, California after admitting in private social media messages that he fought alongside terrorist groups in Syria during his trip to the Middle East in 2013 before returning to the U.S. in 2014.
According to court papers Al-Jayab wrote in one message “I came to Syria.... I fight alongside.” He also admitted that he left because of the fighting between Islamic extremist groups but vowed to return “when the seditious acts are over.”
A few of these online messages led the authorities to the second Iraqi refugee, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, who was also arrested in Houston, Texas for attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist group and unlawfully procuring citizenship by not mentioning his alleged ties to terror groups, and lying to federal authorities about his weapons training.
In one conversation in 2013 Al Hardan allegedly wrote Al-Jayab, “Do you know that I have never sprayed fire with a Kalashnikov?” — a type of Russian assault rifle. Al-Jayab responded, “God willing, you will have your chance to shoot.”
Both men will face a judge on Friday and if convicted Al Hardan faces 20 years in a prison and a fine up to $250,000 and Al-Jayab faces a sentence of eight years in prison and the same $250,000 fine.
Last month Congress passed the omnibus spending bill that included funding for Pres. Obama’s plan to increase the refugee program to 70,000 to 85,000 this year, including at least 10,000 Syrian refugees.
For more on this story go to the Los Angeles Times.
Originally Published: Fri, Jan 8th 2016 @ 12:00pm EST