Defendant Allegedly Lied About Pledging Allegiance to Self-Proclaimed Leader of ISIL
A Mesquite, Texas, man was arrested earlier today by the FBI on a criminal complaint charging him with making a false statement to the FBI, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Acting U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Thomas M. Class Sr. of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office.
Bilal Abood, 37, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen who migrated to the United States in 2009, made his initial appearance in federal court the Northern District of Texas this afternoon. Abood will remain in custody pending a probable cause and detention hearing set for May 15, 2015.
According to the complaint, on March 29, 2013, Abood attempted to depart the United States from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, but was not allowed to board the flight. While at the airport, FBI agents asked Abood about his planned travel, and he initially advised agents that he was merely planning to travel to Iraq to visit family. During a subsequent interview, agents asked Abood again about his attempted travel – specifically asking if he intended to go to Syria to fight, and Abood stated that was not his intent. Later in that interview, however, Abood admitted that his intent on March 29, 2013, was to go to Syria to fight against the Assad regime, claiming he wanted to fight with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
On approximately April 29, 2013, Abood left the United States through Mexico and traveled through various countries in order to get to Turkey. Upon Abood’s return to the United States on Sept. 16, 2013, the FBI interviewed him again. In that interview, Abood admitted traveling to Syria through Turkey, and claimed that he went there to fight with the FSA and that he had stayed in an FSA camp. Abood stated that he became frustrated with a lack of action and wanted to return to the United States. He denied ever providing financial support to al-Nusrah Front (ANF), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or any other terrorist organization.
A review of Abood’s computer on July 9, 2014, pursuant to a federal search warrant, revealed Abood pledged an oath to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, on June 19, 2014. The search warrant also revealed that Abood had been on the internet viewing ISIL atrocities such as beheadings, and had used his twitter account to tweet and retweet information on al-Baghdadi.
On April 14, 2015, FBI agents went to Abood’s residence to return his computer that was seized in the 2014 search warrant. Abood admitted that he knew it was a crime to lie to an FBI agent, and Abood denied to the agents that he had ever pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi.
The maximum statutory penalty for the offense charged in the complaint is eight years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
A complaint is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The matter is being investigated by FBI’s Dallas Division. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas, with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.