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Saudi man who lived in Oklahoma sentenced for ties to terror group

Al-Qaida (Magharebia/WikiCommons)
October 04, 2019

A Saudi Arabian citizen and former Weatherford, Okla. resident was sentenced Thursday to more than 12 years in federal prison for visa fraud and making a false statement to the FBI about his attendance at an al-Qaeda training camp.

U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk sentenced 35-year-old Naif Abdulaziz M. Alfallaj to 151 months in prison, taking into account his pattern of deceptive statements and inquiry on an online forum in 2013 about participating in fighting in Afghanistan or Chechnya.

On the forum, Alfallaj used his nickname from the al Farooq training camp he attended in late 2000 near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The FBI found 15 of Alfallaj’s fingerprints on an application to join the camp, which was a key al-Qaeda training site leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The application was recovered by the U.S. military from an al-Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan. The document included an emergency contact number associated with Alfallaj’s father in Saudi Arabia.

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“We were able to match those fingerprints with fingerprints taken for his U.S. visa application and to determine that he had made false statements in that application in order to conceal his attendance at an al-Qaeda training camp in 2000,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the National Security Division said. “With the sentence imposed today, he will be held accountable for his crime and removed from the country.”

Alfallaj first entered the U.S. in late 2011 on a nonimmigrant visa based on his wife’s status as a foreign student, authorities said. He answered several questions on his visa application falsely, including whether he had ever supported terrorists or terrorist organizations.

On Feb. 5, 2018, the FBI took Alfallaj into custody without incident, based on a criminal complaint signed in the Western District of Oklahoma.

On Feb. 6, 2018, a grand jury in Oklahoma City returned a three-count indictment against Alfallaj, alleging that from March 2012 he possessed a visa obtained by fraud; used that visa in October 2016 to apply for lessons at a private flight school in Oklahoma; and made a false statement to the FBI in an investigation of an offense involving international terrorism by denying, among other things, that he had ever visited Afghanistan.

On Dec. 14, 2018, Alfallaj pleaded guilty to counts one and three. As part of his plea agreement, Alfallaj agreed to a judicial order of removal from the United States at the end of his prison term.

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© 2019 The Oklahoman

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