A Texas man has been indicted on two counts for allegedly attempting to support al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and communicating with one of its top leaders Anwar Al Awlaki, a Yemeni-American cleric who U.S. officials have placed at the center of several recent terrorist plots involving U.S. targets and Americans, including last year's deadly Ft. Hood shooting, which left 13 dead.
The man, Barry Walter Bujol, 29, allegedly was in contact with Awlaki going back to 2008, when he gained the attention of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Houston.
Agents determined that Bujol, who they said used aliases including "Abdul Bari," "Abyu Najya," "Pat Lex" and "Abdul-Bari Al Ameriki Al Aswad," was in e-mail communication with Awlaki.
The cleric allegedly provided Bujol with a document entitled, "42 Ways of Supporting Jihad." Bujol also allegedly asked Awlaki for guidance on how to provide materials and funds to foreign fighters overseas.
The two-count indictment charging him with providing material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and aggravated identity theft was unsealed late on Thursday.
The identity theft charge involves Bujol being in possession of a controlled identification card for transportation workers called a TWIC card (Transportation Workers Identification Card), which can be used to gain access to sensitive locations at ports and at other areas of critical infrastructure.
According to federal law enforcement officials, Bujol allegedly tried to leave the United States on several occasions. In February 2009, as he was attempting to fly to Yemen, according to law enforcement officials, Bujol was arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant.
Bujol, who attended Prairie View A&M University in Texas, later tried to leave the United States at the U.S.-Canadian border in March 2009 near Detroit but was denied entry by Canadian authorities.
Weeks later, he was arrested in New Jersey for driving on a suspended license.
Bujol allegedly has told investigators after his arrest on May 30, 2010, that he was attempting to leave the country to fly to Egypt.
According to Justice Department officials, in November the FBI used a confidential human source who Bujol believed was affiliated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was acting as an operative for the group.
During meetings, Bujol allegedly stated his interest in traveling oversees to engage in fighting with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
In the course of meetings, the human source being run by the FBI gave Bujol the TWIC card so that he could use it to board a ship he believed was heading to the Middle East from the port in Houston. The source also allegedly gave Bujol pre-paid calling cards, mobile phone SIM cards, GPS receivers and publications and information about unmanned aerial vehicle operations and U.S. military weapons systems.
Bujol allegedly believed he was to courier the items to AQAP operatives -- but in reality it was all an FBI sting operation. Bujol boarded the ship on May 30 in Houston and was arrested by FBI agents.
"This arrest is a sobering reminder of the threat we continue to face," said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Richard Powers.
Joseph Varela, an attorney for Bujol, declined to comment on the case.
Bujol is scheduled to have an arraignment on June 8, 2010 in Houston.