An Iraqi refugee who came to the U.S. in 2013 was arrested on Tuesday at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport after allegedly telling authorities that he was planning to head to Iraq to join Islamic State militants and "conduct jihad," according to a criminal complaint.
But then Al-Hamzah Mohammad Jawad, 29, who is in the U.S. on a green card, reportedly recanted his story not long after, leading to a charge that he lied about his Islamic State ties and made false statements to federal officials.
It all began when Jawad, who had a one way ticket back to the Middle East, was questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the airport on Tuesday as he was preparing to board a plane. Officials became concerned when he couldn't explain why he had purchased a one-way ticket, with the FBI stepping in with questioning, WJBK-TV reported.
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/militant website, File)
At first, he allegedly told agents that he was planning to visit his mother in Jordan, before proclaiming, instead, that he had decided to join the Islamic State. Jawad said that he was recruited by Saad Alhalali, a childhood friend, to "join, train and fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Iraq," and that he planned to travel from Jordan to Iraq by car, authorities claim.
He also told the FBI that he had been working out and going to a gun range to prepare, according to the complaint.
He described email communications that he said would corroborate his story, but the FBI was unable to locate any related messages, nor were officials able to find other information that Jawad said would prove that he was planning to join the Islamic State in Iraq, officials claim.
Then, Jawad reportedly reversed course, claiming that the entire story was a fabrication.
"Jawad then stated that he had fabricated the entire story concerning his contact with Saad Alhalali and his further tavel to Iraq to join ISIL," the complaint reads. "Jawad could not provide an explanation for why he had fabricated this story, stating only that his home life was messy."
He has been charged with making a false statement to a federal official, according to the Detroit Free Press. Jawad is expected in court on Friday.