Two refugees from the Middle East, one of whom entered the United States from Syria, have been arrested on federal terrorism charges, officials announced Thursday.
Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, a 23-year-old refugee who entered the U.S. from Syria in 2012, was arrested in California for making false statements about his support for international terrorism, Reuters reported.
According to the criminal complaint, Al-Jayab posted about his support for international terror groups on social media, about which he lied to officials. He also lied about returning to Syria the year after he entered the U.S. Officials said they do not have evidence that he planned an attack on the homeland.
Omar Faraj Saeed Al-Hardan, a 24-year-old Iraqi refugee when entered the U.S. in 2009, was also nabbed in Texas for providing material support to ISIS overseas and making false statements about his connections to the group when seeking naturalization. Both Al-Jayab and Al-Hardan are Palestinians who were born in Iraq.
Reuters, citing an unnamed source, reported that officials have reason to believe that the two individuals may have been in contact with one another. According to the affidavit, Al-Jayab corresponded with an unnamed person in Texas in 2013 about receiving training in various weapons, Fox News reported.
Both individuals were scheduled to appear in court Friday. Federal officials separately announced later Thursday that three of Al-Jayab’s family members were arrested in Wisconsin but that the arrests were not related to national security.
The state of Texas, in addition to a majority of U.S. states, has moved to block the settlement of Syrian refugees within its borders in the wake of terror attacks on Western nations.
“This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement following the arrests. “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.”
At least 29 people legally allowed into the U.S. between 2012 and 2015 have been accused of playing roles in terrorist plots, the Free Beacon previously reported. Moreover, there have been over 75 publicized arrests of U.S. citizens who are accused of being radicalized by Islamic militants since 2014.
Fears of terror plots in the U.S. have heightened in the wake of the November coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris and the December terror attack in San Bernardino, California.