Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab is a Palestinian-Iraqi who came to the United States as a refugee from Syria in October 2012.“United States of America v. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, January 6, 2016, 2, http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/811696/download. He spent time in Arizona and Wisconsin before settling in Sacramento, California.Maneeza Iqbal, “Man accused of terrorism arrested in Sacramento,” KCRA ABC, January 7, 2016, http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sacramento/suspect-arrested-in-sacramento-in-regards-to-national-security/37321358. Travel dates—as well as bank and electronic communication records—indicate that Al-Jayab traveled twice between Syria and the United States from 2012 to 2014. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, while in Syria, Al-Jayab fought for al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front. Al-Jayab may also have fought alongside Ansar al-Islam, a group that pledged allegiance to ISIS in August 2014. “United States of America v. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, January 6, 2016, 16, http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/811696/download; Abdallah Suleiman Ali, “IS disciplines some emirs to avoid losing base,” Al-Monitor, September 2, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/09/is-takfiri-caliphate.html#.

Al-Jayab reportedly lied about his involvement in terrorism in an October 2014 interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Immigration officers asked Al-Jayab a variety of questions, including if he had been a member of a rebel group, if he had ever killed another person, and if he had ever solicited membership from a terrorist organization. Al-Jayab answered “no” to each question.“United States of America v. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, January 6, 2016, 3, http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/811696/download.

The then-23-year-old was arrested on January 7, 2016, in Sacramento, California, on charges of making a false statement involving international terrorism.Shawn Brouwer, “Sacramento man indicted on terrorism-related charge,” KCRA ABC, January 14, 2016, http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sacramento/sacramento-man-indicted-on-terrorismrelated-charge/37444394.

Almost immediately after he arrived in the United States in October 2012, Al-Jayab began discussing his desire to return to Syria to “work” with family and associates. On October 13, 2012, he began conversing with two unnamed individuals—one in Iraq and the other in Syria—about his plans to return to Syria and join al-Nusra Front.“United States of America v. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, January 6, 2016, 6, http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/811696/download.

Over the next few months, Al-Jayab received money via Western Union from a variety of unnamed individuals in Syria. Al-Jayab told these individuals that he needed the money to travel to Syria and was interested in joining al-Nusra Front. He asked questions about weapons, inquired about the type of training he would receive, and asked God to grant him martyrdom.“United States of America v. Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, January 6, 2016, 9, http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/811696/download.

In 2013, Al-Jayab communicated over social media with fellow U.S.-based Iraqi refugee Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan.“FBI: Refugees used social media to plan fight in Syria,” KCRA 3, January 8, 2016, http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sacramento/family-suspect-in-terror-case-went-to-american-river-college/37335406. Al-Jayab spoke to Al Hardan about weapons training, and the two discussed travel to Syria.Catherine E. Shoichet and Joshua Berlinger, “Feds arrest 2 Middle East refugees on terror-link charges,” January 8, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/08/us/terror-charges-refugees/. Al-Jayab bragged about his experience fighting in Syria and promised to teach Al Hardan how to enter Syria and fight with weaponry.“FBI: Refugees used social media to plan fight in Syria,” KCRA, January 8, 2016, http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sacramento/family-suspect-in-terror-case-went-to-american-river-college/37335406. Al Hardan was arrested on January 8, 2016.Manny Fernandez, “Refugee Tried to Assist Islamic State, U.S. Says,” New York Times, January 8, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/09/us/refugee-appears-in-houston-court-on-terror-related-charges.html.

On January 8, 2016, a judge ordered Al-Jayab be held without bail, citing he was a flight risk and danger to the community.Sam Stanton, Stephen Magagnini, and Denny Walsh, “Sacramento junior college student ordered held without bail in terror case,” Sacramento Bee, January 8, 2016, http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article53731420.html. In early March, the FBI requested and was granted access to Al-Jayab’s two cellphones, an iPhone 6S and a Samsung Galaxy S5. FBI agents were reportedly able to bypass the Samsung Galaxy’s security and gain access to multiple Facebook accounts operated by Al-Jayab.“Application for a Search Warrant,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, March 1, 2016, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2778672-Al-Jayab-Warrant-for-iPhone-and-Samsung.html; Thomas Fox-Brewster, “FBI Wants Access To Another ISIS-Linked iPhone -- Will It Demand Apple Aid?,” Forbes, March 29, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/03/29/fbi-apple-iphone-6s-warrant-al-jayab/#60e8bf635df6.

As of March 29, 2016, the status of the iPhone’s data is unknown. Analysts posited the FBI might request Apple to aid in unlocking the iPhone, just as they demanded in the case of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook.“Application for a Search Warrant,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, March 1, 2016, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2778672-Al-Jayab-Warrant-for-iPhone-and-Samsung.html; Thomas Fox-Brewster, “FBI Wants Access To Another ISIS-Linked iPhone -- Will It Demand Apple Aid?,” Forbes, March 29, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2016/03/29/fbi-apple-iphone-6s-warrant-al-jayab/#60e8bf635df6.

On March 17, 2016, Al-Jayab was indicted in the Northern District of Illinois for attempting to provide material support to acts of violence overseas. If found guilty, Al-Jayab may face up to 15 years in prison.“California Man Indicted in Chicago for Attempting to Provide Material Support to Overseas Terrorists,” United States Department of Justice, March 17, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/california-man-indicted-chicago-attempting-provide-material-support-overseas-terrorists. On October 31, 2018, he pleaded guilty to providing material support to the jihadist group Ansar al-Islam and making a false statement to federal agents investigating an international terrorism case. Although the two charges combined carry a maximum of 23 years in prison, Al-Jayab’s plea bargain stipulates a maximum sentence of 15 years.Bennett Clifford and Seamus Hughes, “United States v. Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab: A Case Study on Transnational Prosecutions of Jihadi Foreign Fighter Networks,” CTC Sentinel 11, no. 11, December 2018, https://ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/CTC-SENTINEL-122018.pdf, 26, 29.

 
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