An Iraqi man, who is a naturalized American citizen, was arrested on Thursday by FBI agents after pledging allegiance to the leader of ISIS and misleading them about his travels to Syria.
According to The New York Times, Bilal Abood worked as a translator for the U.S. military before moving to the United States in 2009. Living in Mesquite, Texas, a Dallas suburb, he has been charged with lying to an agent after he denied last month that he had pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.
After his computer was seized in July under a search warrant, an examination of the device revealed that on June 19 Abood had written on Twitter, “I pledge obedience to the Caliphate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
Abood had been under surveillance by the FBI for over two years before his arrest.
In March 2013, he was restricted from boarding a plane leaving the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. At first, Abood told agents he was going to Iraq to visit his family. Shortly after, he admitted he was attempting to travel to Syria to fight against the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Charging documents state that the FBI learned that Abood had been viewing videos about ISIS and had mentioned to an informant that he was in support of the militant group. He then traveled to Mexico and from there traveled through a series of countries before reaching Turkey, a common gateway to Syria,
Abood returned to Texas in September 2013. He told agents that he stayed in a Free Syrian Army camp, run by opposition coalition group supported by the U.S. He said he left when he grew bored of the lack of activity and returned home.
Now, nineteen months later, Abood has been arrested and if convicted on the false statement charge, he faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.