A Texas man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist group's Yemeni affiliate that is responsible for three failed attacks on the U.S. homeland.
Barry Walter Bujol, a former student at Prairie View A & M University, was convicted last November for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft.
"We do not take matters of potential national security lightly," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said in a Department of Justice press release announcing the sentencing. "This case and its successful resolution represents our commitment to making our communities a safer place to live."
Evidence presented at the trial showed Bujol communicated with Yemeni-American AQAP cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, for "guidance on jihad." Awlaki e-mailed him a document titled "42 Ways of Supporting Jihad." It "advocates armed struggle or 'jihad' and pronounces it the duty of all Muslims to travel to Muslim lands to participate in this armed struggle" referred to in the document as "hijrah," court records show. In a subsequent e-mail, Bujol sought Awlaki's advice on how to raise money for the "Mujahidden" (Muslim Holy Warriors) overseas. He also made inquiries about setting up a jihadi website that could not be traced back to him. Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen last September.
A government informant who was in close communication with Bujol testified that each time he told Bujol he would be joining AQAP, Bujol responded saying "God willing" in Arabic. Bujol also expressed his desire to the travel to Yemen and the Middle East and support the efforts of his "brothers" engaged in violent jihad. Bujol also emailed the informant copies of U.S. military manuals that he suggested could be exploited by the AQAP to obstruct U.S. military efforts overseas. He conveyed to the informant information he obtained on the Internet on where Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were manufactured or operated and suggested these locations be targeted for attack by AQAP.
Bujol was arrested in May 2010 aboard a ship at the Port of Houston. The informant led him to the ship, saying it was bound for Algeria. From there, Bujol could get to Yemen. He was carrying several items the informant gave him to deliver to AQAP, including two public access restricted military manuals, global positioning system receivers, pre-paid international calling cards, SIM cards, and around 2,000 Euros.
A laptop computer seized from Bujol's apartment contained a video montage that included images of Osama bin Laden, Najibullah Zazi, and armed mujahideen soldiers. Bujol recorded himself on the video, telling his wife he left her to pursue jihad and he would likely not see her until the afterlife.