Two men who entered the United States as refugees have been charged separately with attempting to provide material support to terrorist groups in Syria.
Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, a Palestinian born in Iraq who came to the United States from Syria in 2012, is accused in a criminal complaint with lying to immigration authorities about a trip he took to Syria to fight alongside jihadi groups. Those groups include Ansar al-Islam, a U.S. designated terrorist organization that was founded by Mullah Krekar in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2001.
Al-Jayab communicated with several people on social media regarding his desire to return to Syria and wage jihad. Al-Jayab was then living in Arizona and Wisconsin. In an April 2013 exchange with an unnamed individual, Al-Jayab discussed his prior fighting experience with jihadi groups. "I was a little over 16 years old. My tribe, half of them are Mujahidin. I did not find any difficulty to get to Al-Jihad."
"Brother, we do not sit and watch," he wrote in January 2014, the complaint said.. [...] Our headquarters is next to the [Islamic] State exactly, and we are against the Free Army. We have prevented the Free Army from entering the area and attacking the State's headquarters. And if the Free Army advances, we will fight it."
Al-Jayab entered Aleppo in Syria through Turkey on a temporary American passport. But when he came back to the U.S., he failed to mention the Syria leg of his trip to immigration officials, saying he visited Turkey to see his grandmother.
A separate indictment charged Omar Faraj Al Hardan, a Palestinian born in Iraq, of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS). Al Hardan came to the United States as a refugee in November 2009 and was living in Houston since being granted legal permanent resident status in August 2011.
The arrests of Al-Jayab and Al Hardan come in the wake of growing concerns regarding attempts by terrorists to enter the U.S. as Syrian refugees and calls for overhauling America's asylum and refugee system. In a recently published white paper, the IPT explained gaps in the immigration system that could allow terrorists masquerading as refugees to enter the U.S.