Omar Faraj Saee Al Hardan, 25, has been ordered to serve 16 years in federal prison for attempting to create explosives and travel abroad to fight for the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS.
“Al Hardan’s actions were treacherous and completely antithetical to the freedoms we as U.S. citizens value,” said acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. “The sentence imposed [Monday] reflects the Department of Justice’s resolve to seek out and punish all violators who would give aid and comfort to international terrorists.”
Al Hardan entered the United States as a refugee in November 2009, after living in refugee camps in Jordan and Iraq. He was granted legal permanent residence status in 2011, and settled in Houston.
Federal agents began investigating Al Hardan in 2013 because of his correspondence with a California man who was associated with the Al-Nusrah Front. The two discussed going to Syria to fight for Al-Nusrah, an endorsed Syrian affiliate of al Qaeda.
Al Hardan later developed a relationship in 2014 with an FBI informant. In addition to discussing plans for traveling overseas to assist ISIS, Al Hardan said he wanted to be trained in building remote transmitter detonators for explosive devices, such as using a cellphone to detonate a bomb from a remote location.
He indicated that he taught himself how to make remote detonators through online videos, even showing the informant a circuit board he’d built to be used to detonate an explosive.
Al Hardan took an oath of loyalty to ISIS in November 2014. Throughout the investigation, Al Hardan had posted many statements on social media in support of ISIS. One included a photo of a Humvee with an ISIS flag, with the caption, “ISIS yesterday in Iraq, today in Syria and Allah willing, tomorrow in Jerusalem.”
He also made several statements about his plans to become a martyr fighting for ISIS. One post read, “I want to blow myself up. I want to travel with the Mujahidin. I want to travel to be with those who are against America. I am against America.”
When Al Hardan was arrested in 2016, investigators found training CDs on how to build remote detonators, a prayer list for becoming a martyr and an ISIS flag.
Al Hardan was charged in January 2016 and pleaded guilty in October 2016 to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist group. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department.