June 3, 2010 - HOUSTON—A federal grand jury in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas returned an indictment today charging Barry Walter Bujol, Jr., with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno and FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Richard C. Powers announced today.
“Protecting the American public from the threat of terrorism, both international and home-grown, is the highest priority of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas,” said U.S. Attorney Moreno. “Proactive investigative efforts and cooperation between the myriad of federal, state and local agencies involved was critical to this case. Continued vigilance to uncover terrorist activity by law enforcement at all levels, including the recruitment of U.S. citizens, is essential to our efforts in preventing this type of activity.”
The indictment charges Bujol, 29, a U.S. citizen and resident of Hempstead, Texas, with attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the form of personnel, currency, pre-paid telephone calling cards, mobile telephone SIM cards, global positioning system receivers, public access-restricted U.S. military publications, including one involving unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations and another involving the effects of U.S. military weapon systems in operations in Afghanistan, as well as a military-issue compass and other materials. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is 15 years in prison.
The second count of the two-count indictment charges Bujol with aggravated identity theft, alleging that in furtherance of the material support to a designated terrorist organization charge, he possessed and used a false government-issued identification card. The maximum statutory penalty for this offense is five years in prison, which must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on other counts.
The charges resulted from a long-term investigation that culminated on May 30, 2010, when Bujol boarded a ship docked at a Houston-area port. According to court documents unsealed today, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Bujol in 2008 and determined he had been communicating via e-mail with Anwar al-Aulaqi, a known associate and propagandist for AQAP. Among other things, the court documents allege that Al-Aulaqi had provided Bujol with a document entitled “42 Ways of Supporting Jihad,” and that Bujol had asked Al-Aulaqi for advice on how to provide money to the “mujahideen” overseas. In addition, Bujol made three unsuccessful attempts during February and March 2009 to depart the country and travel overseas to Yemen or the Middle East, according to the court documents.
Beginning in November 2009, the FBI introduced into the investigation a confidential human source (CHS) whom Bujol believed to be an AQAP operative. Over the ensuing months, the court documents allege, Bujol repeatedly expressed to the CHS his desire to travel overseas to fight in violent jihad for AQAP. The CHS provided Bujol with a false identification card provided by the FBI bearing Bujol’s photograph. Bujol used this card to gain access to the secure area of the port with the alleged intention of boarding a ship bound for the Middle East. Afterwards, the CHS gave Bujol currency, pre-paid telephone calling cards, mobile telephone SIM cards, global positioning system receivers, public access-restricted U.S. military publications, including one involving UAV operations and another involving the effects of U.S. military weapon systems in operations in Afghanistan, as well as a military-issue compass and other materials, which Bujol had allegedly agreed to courier to notional AQAP operatives in a Middle Eastern country. Shortly after Bujol boarded the ship with the material, FBI agents arrested him.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacey has ordered related search warrants for Bujol’s apartment at the Pine Meadows Apartments in Hempstead, Texas, and for his laptop computer unsealed today. Those search warrants were executed on May 30, 2010, as well. The United States has asked the court to hold Bujol in federal custody without bond pending trial. A hearing on the government’s motion is set for Tuesday, June 8, 2010, at 2:00 p.m.
“This arrest is a sobering reminder of the threat we continue to face,” said Special Agent in Charge Powers. “It remains the FBI’s overriding priority to predict and prevent terrorist attacks, at home and abroad.”
This investigation was a joint effort and could not have been as effective without the participation, support and assistance of the following agencies: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas; Department of Justice, Counterterrorism Section; FBI Houston Office; FBI Bryan Resident Agency Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the Brazos County Sheriff's Office, College Station Police Department, Bryan Police Department, Texas A&M Police Department, Waller County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Secret Service. We are also grateful for the investigative and operational assistance provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Houston Police Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General, Prairie View A&M University Department of Public Safety, and the New Jersey State Police.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. White III and Gary Cobe, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, and Garrett Heenan, Trial Attorney from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.