U.S. man charged with lying to FBI about ISIS allegiance
Bilal Abood of Texas is believed to have traveled from the United States to Syria through Mexico and Turkey in 2013
A U.S. man born in Iraq was arrested Thursday for allegedly lying to the FBI about supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants after a pledge of allegiance to the group’s leader was found on his computer, the Justice Department said.
Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, Texas, is believed to have traveled from the United States to Syria through Mexico and Turkey in 2013, the Justice Department said.
Upon his return four months later, he allegedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he intended to fight alongside the Free Syrian Army to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. He also said he stayed in a camp with the rebels.
“He denied ever providing financial support to Al-Nusra Front (ANF), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or any other terrorist organization,” according to the Justice Department.
The FBI reviewed Abood’s computer in July 2014, and the Justice Department said investigators discovered an “oath” to the leader of the ISIS group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Authorities said they found that “Abood had been on the Internet viewing ISIS atrocities such as beheadings, and had used his Twitter account to tweet and retweet information on al-Baghdadi,” the statement said.
When FBI agents returned his computer this year, Abood said he knew it was a crime to lie to the FBI and denied pledging allegiance to the ISIS leader.
A criminal complaint charged him with “making a false statement to the FBI,” the Justice Department said Thursday.
ISIS controls swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and is targeted by a U.S.-led air war trying to eliminate the group.
The organization’s radical ideology has inspired thousands of people to support the group around the world, including some in the US.
A month before departing for Syria in April 2013, Abood had been denied permission to leave the United States at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. At that time, he told authorities he intended to travel to Iraq to visit his family before saying he wanted to fight for the rebels.
He could face a maximum sentence of eight years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Abood, a naturalized U.S. citizen, migrated to the United States in 2009.He appeared in a federal court in Texas Thursday.
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