Federal law enforcement officials have identified a Palestinian refugee, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, as a sympathizer of the Islamic State. Al Hardan was living in the Houston TX area. Another man, a resident of Sacramento CA, who is associated with ISIS was also arrested on January 7. Arrests were also made in Milwaukee WI in a separate albeit related case.
 
Al Hardan is expected to face at least three federal charges that he provided support to terrorists. He will face the court on January 8. Local media reports that Al Hardan had lived in Houston for several years. He had been in contact with other sympathizers of ISIS in California and Wisconsin. He is alleged to have sought to lure people in the United States to move to the Middle East, where ISIS has been engaged in setting up an Islamic government in Syria while combating the forces of Syrian President Bashr al-Assad as well as the U.S.-led coalition.
 
“More information will be released when the defendant makes his initial appearance tomorrow,” Angela Dodge, speaking for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas on the evening of January 8. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento could not say when the defendant in that case will appear in court.
 
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas released a statement after the arrests that said, "I applaud the FBI for today's arrest of this dangerous subject.”
 
Hardan applied for U.S. citizenship in August 2014, telling authorities that he was not a member or associated with any terrorist group. He also denied having received weapons training, even while in fact he had been trained with automatic weapons. Dodge said more information will be forthcoming. She tried to reassure citizens about the potential terrorist threat. "There is no current threat to public safety associated with this arrest," Dodge said in a prepared statement.
 
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also issued a statement about the case. He declared, "I applaud the thorough law enforcement investigation that resulted in this arrest." Patrick added, "Based on the facts, as we know them, today's action may have prevented a catastrophic terror related event in the making and saved countless lives.
 
"This is exactly what we have repeatedly told the Obama administration could happen," said Patrick, "and why we do not want refugees coming to Texas. There are serious questions about who these people really are, as evidenced by today's events."
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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