A Saudi man living in Oklahoma was charged on Tuesday with visa fraud by a federal grand jury in Oklahoma for allegedly lying about attending an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a statement.
What’s the story?
The FBI took Naif Abdulaziz Alfallaj into custody Monday after it matched his fingerprints to documents recovered by the U.S. military found at an Al-Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan.
In late 2011, Alfallaj allegedly first entered the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa based on his wife’s status as an international student, the DOJ said.
Officials have also accused the 34-year-old Alfallaj of answering several questions falsely on his visa application, including whether he ever supported terrorists or terrorist organizations.
Alfallaj, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, has been living in Weatherford, about 70 miles west of Oklahoma City, with his family since 2012, according to the statement.
In October 2016, he applied to an Oklahoma flight school for private pilot’s lessons, court documents said. The Federal Aviation Administration requires non-citizens to provide fingerprints as part of the licensing process, which he earned in 2017.
What were the documents?
Fifteen of Alfallaj’s fingerprints turned up on a training camp application at al-Farooq, known as one of Al-Qaeda’s key training sites in Afghanistan.
Some of Osama Bin Laden’s “highest ranking deputies” and “several of the hijackers from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks” trained at the camp, according to court documents said, KOKH-TV reported.
The FAA revoked his license last year after the FBI matched his fingerprints to the terrorist camp application.
What are the charges?
The grand jury indicted Alfallaj on two counts of visa fraud.
The first alleges that Alfallaj possessed a visa obtained by fraud from March 2012 to the present.
The second alleges that he used the fraudulent visa to apply for private pilot lessons at the Oklahoma flight school.
A third count alleges he made a false statement to the FBI by denying any association with a foreign terrorist group during a terrorist investigation.
If convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison for each count of visa fraud and up to eight years for making a false statement involving international terrorism.
Alfallaj, considered a flight risk, will remain in custody until his court hearing next week. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will request that he stays in jail without bail through the trial, which should begin in March.
Deportation proceedings are expected to follow the criminal proceedings.