North Texas Man Charged With Lying About Islamic State
DALLAS — A federal grand jury has indicted a suburban Dallas man, accusing him of lying to federal agents about whether he supported the leader of the Islamic State group.
The grand jury in Dallas charged BilalAbood, 37, of Mesquite, on Wednesday with one count of making a false statement to a federal agency. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest last month.
The indictment alleges that Abood, after being denied boarding of a March 29 international flight at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, lied when he said he was traveling to Iraq to visit family.
A search of his computer revealed he had posted an online oath to the leader of the Islamic State, a pledge he denied making.
The U.S. government has designated the Islamic State a terrorist group. It controls parts of Iraq and Syria and has taken responsibility for attacks, including a shooting last month outside a controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland.
A message left with his attorney Thursday was not returned. According to court documents, Abood is a naturalized U.S citizen who immigrated to the United States from Iraq in 2009.
On March 29, 2013, Abood was blocked from boarding a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the complaint states. When FBI agents at the airport asked him about his travel plans, he initially said he was flying to Iraq to visit family. In a subsequent interview, when he was asked specifically if he intended to go to Syria to fight, he denied that was his intent. Later in the interview, though, he said he planned to travel to Syria to fight against the Assad regime, saying he wanted to fight with the rebel Free Syrian Army.
About a month later, Abood left the U.S. through Mexico and traveled through various countries to reach Turkey, according to the complaint. When he returned to the U.S. that September, the FBI questioned him and he said he had traveled through Turkey and stayed in a Free Syrian Army camp. He said he decided to return to the United States after becoming frustrated by a lack of action. He denied ever providing financial support to the Islamic State or any other terrorist organization.
However, an examination of Abood's computer in July 2014, showed he had pledged an oath online the previous June to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
When FBI agents returned his computer in April, Abood again denied that he had ever pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi. Lying to federal agents is punishable by up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. (AP)