Iraqi Refugee in Houston Pleads Guilty to Trying to Assist ISIS

ISIS fighters
Islamic State fighters / AP
October 18, 2016

An Iraqi refugee living in Houston pleaded guilty Monday to trying to assist the Islamic State after police said he planned to set off bombs at two malls in the Texas city.

Omar Faraj Saeed al Hardan, 24, was charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to ISIS, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, CBS News reported.

Hardan admitted that he pledged allegiance to the terrorist group in November 2014 and successively trained to use tactical weapons, including an AK-47. He faces up to 20 years in prison at his sentencing on Jan. 17.

Hardan arrived in Houston from Iraq in 2009. He began telling a confidential informant about his goal to travel abroad to fight alongside ISIS in June 2014. Hardan also made a number of statements discussing his plans to travel to Syria to become a martyr, according to local station KHOU.

"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," he reportedly wrote.

Homeland Security Special Agent Herman Wittliff said in January after Hardan’s indictment that he had planned to bomb two Houston malls using cellphones to detonate the explosives.