A Texas couple is headed to federal prison after lying to the FBI about the activities of their two adult sons, who traveled to Syria to fight with Islamic State terrorists.
Sumaiya Ali was sentenced to 30 months in prison, while her husband, Mohommad Hasnain Ali, was sentenced to 12 months plus one day. Both paid a $5,000 fine and will serve three years of supervised release after prison.
The Plano couple was sentenced during back-to-back hearings in U.S. District Court in Plano on Tuesday. They had pleaded guilty last year to making false statements regarding international terrorism.
“I apologize for my actions and thank the court for considering the plea deal,” Sumaiya Ali, 49, said before District Judge Marcia A. Crone pronounced her sentence.
Mohommad Hasnain Ali, 58, issued a similar apology when it came his turn.
Their defense attorneys declined to comment after the hearing.
According to court documents, the couple’s adult sons, Arman and Omar Ali, traveled from Egypt to Syria sometime between October and December 2014 to join and fight for ISIS.
Sumaiya Ali communicated regularly with them about their whereabouts and desire to fight for ISIS. On Feb. 21, 2014, she told Omar Ali to “Do what u need to do.” He responded, “(O)k then going to Syria it is,” documents state.
Her sons sent her a travel itinerary and kept her posted on their progress to Syria, which she shared with her husband. The brothers also communicated with their parents about their efforts for ISIS.
In March 2015, Arman Ali sent his father an email from Syria: “Things are heating up here, and I can’t guarantee me or Omar will be there in 2 months … I’ve been to the hospital every day with brothers from my group. Close friends have died, too many injured. Me and Omar are perfectly fine right now, but soon we may not be.”
But when the couple was interviewed by federal agents in May 2015, they both denied their sons were in Syria. They claimed they were in Egypt even though they knew their sons had gone to Syria.
Sumaiya Ali insisted her sons would never be involved with ISIS, according to court documents.
Mohommad Hasnain Ali told agents “his sons were peaceful, liked to study and never indicated that they would be affiliated with any terrorist groups,” court documents stated.
Arman and Omar Ali grew up in Plano. Each attended Rice Middle School and Plano Senior High School. Arman attended the University of Texas at Austin from fall 2008 to spring 2011 but did not earn a degree, officials said.
Arman is 27, and his younger brother is 26.
Federal officials filed a criminal complaint in March 2017 against the brothers, alleging they each provided material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Their cases remain open as the brothers’ whereabouts are unclear. Their parents have not heard from them, and it’s not known whether they are still alive.
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