U.S. authorities said two people with ties to the ISIS group are due in court Friday in California and Texas, including a refugee from Syria who lied about his travels there.
The arrests come amid heightened security in the U.S. following last month’s assault by a radicalized Muslim couple in California that left 14 people dead and the November terror attacks in Paris.
There is also growing pressure for more scrutiny of refugees from war-ravaged Syria, amid terror fears.
Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, an Iraq-born Palestinian arrested Thursday who came to the U.S. from Syria as a refugee in 2012, traveled to Syria the following year where he fought with various terror groups, according to a criminal complaint.
One of those groups was Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), which once operated in both Iraq and Syria.
Listed as a terrorist organization by the U.N. and the U.S., its Iraq faction has since merged with the ISIS group, though some of its Syrian fighters rejected ISIS.
But U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner was careful to stress that “while (Jayab) represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country.”
Another Iraqi-born Palestinian, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, was indicted Wednesday in Texas for providing material support to the ISIS group. He is due in court Friday for an initial appearance.
Hardan, 24, was charged with one count each of attempting to provide material support to ISIS procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and making false statements.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other local officials said Hardan’s arrest backed their calls for a refugee ban.
“This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the U.S. from countries substantially controlled by terrorists,” he said.
The state’s Attorney General Ken Paxton called the arrest a “troubling revelation,” using the occasion to take a swipe at President Barack Obama.
“The arrest in Houston of an Iraqi refugee for suspicion of terrorist activities is a troubling revelation -– especially in light of the president’s insistence on placing further refugees in Texas,” he said.
“My office will continue to press for the right of Texans to ensure that terrorists are not being placed in our communities.”SHOW MORE