Saudi citizen charged in Oklahoma with concealing attendance at al Qaeda training camp

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A video still of Al Farooq, Al Qaeda’s most notorious training camp, in June 2001. It was destroyed in the American bombing campaign in Afghanistan in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A Saudi man living in Oklahoma has been arrested after his fingerprints were found on an application to join the camp that he filled out in 2000.

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, February 2, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A citizen of Saudi Arabia and a current resident of Weatherford, Oklahoma, was arrested Monday for visa fraud and making a false statement to the FBI by, among other things, concealing his application to and attendance at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in late 2000.

This case resulted from an investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes members from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the University of Oklahoma Police Department, the Oklahoma City Police Department, and the Edmond (Oklahoma) Police Department.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Edward C. O’Callaghan, Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester of the Western District of Oklahoma, and Special Agent in Charge Kathryn Peterson of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Division announced this arrest and indictment.

Based on a criminal complaint signed in the Western District of Oklahoma and unsealed Tuesday, Naif Abdulaziz M. Alfallaj, 34, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and a current resident of Weatherford, Oklahoma, was taken into custody by the FBI without incident Feb. 5. A grand jury returned a three-count indictment against him Feb. 6. He was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard M. Jones and is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to the complaint, the FBI found 15 of Alfallaj’s fingerprints on an application to an al Qaeda training camp, known as al Farooq, which was one of al Qaeda’s key training sites in Afghanistan. The document was recovered by the U.S. military from an al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan. The document is also alleged to include an emergency contact number associated with Alfallaj’s father in Saudi Arabia. Alfallaj is alleged to have first entered the U.S. in late 2011 on a nonimmigrant visa based on his wife’s status as a foreign student. According to the complaint, he falsely answered several questions on his visa application, including whether he had ever supported terrorists or terrorist organizations.

The indictment returned Feb. 6 charges two counts of visa fraud. Count One alleges that from March 2012 to the present, Alfallaj possessed a visa obtained by fraud. Count Two alleges he used that visa in October 2016 to apply for lessons at a private flight school in Oklahoma. The third count in the indictment charges Alfallaj with making a false statement to the FBI during a terrorism investigation when he was interviewed and denied ever having associated with anyone from a foreign terrorist group.

“Protecting our national security is the highest priority of the Department of Justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Troester. “I commend the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for its collaborative and focused work in this investigation.”

“This is an isolated incident from one individual based on historical data,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Kathryn Peterson. “Our investigation to date has not uncovered any indication that the potential threat extends beyond this particular individual. The FBI and our JTTF partners will always work to ensure the safety and security of residents throughout our state.”

If convicted of visa fraud, Alfallaj faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count. He also faces up to eight years in prison for making a false statement involving international terrorism. Deportation proceedings are expected to commence at the conclusion of these criminal proceedings. Reference is made to the criminal complaint and the indictment for further information.

The public is reminded these charges are merely accusations and that Alfallaj is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a unanimous jury.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Dillon and Scott E. Williams of the Western District of Oklahoma and Trial Attorney C. Alexandria Bogle of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting this case.