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Terrorism-related arrests are increasingly commonly in the United States. Last year, nearly 70 people were reportedly arrested for involvement in actual terror plots or for providing material support to a terrorist organization. 2016 starts with two new arrests, this time in Texas and California.
The two arrests may be related and the accused may have had ties with each other, CNN reports. Both men are described as Iraqi-born Palestinians living as refugees in the United States, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Both are accused of lying to officials about their alleged ties to terrorist organizations.
The Texas Arrest
Omar Faraj Saeed Al-Hardan, 24, of Houston, is charged with attempting to provide material support to a terror organization and lying to American authorities. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento is charged with making a false statement involving international terrorism.
Al-Hardan appeared in court in Houston this morning but did not enter a plea to the charges that he supplied support to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL (which is also known as ISIS to the dismay of many). He was appointed an attorney and scheduled for a bond hearing next week.
Details surrounding the charges were reportedly not discussed at today's hearing. Al-Hardan also faces two charges for providing false information to U.S. officials concerning his ties to Islamic State and receiving weapons training.
Granted legal permanent residency in the United States in August, 2011, Al-Hardan is not yet a U.S. citizen. He said he does not speak English well, and through an interpreter asked the judge to define an indictment.
The California Arrest
In a second related case in Sacramento on Thursday, the DOJ said Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, who came to the United States in 2012 as a refugee from Syria, was arrested on a federal charge of making a false statement involving international terrorism.
The U.S. attorney for Sacramento, Benjamin Wagner, said in a statement there were no indications Al-Jayab had planned any attacks in the US. The two men may have been in contact with each other, a source familiar with the case said.