October 13, 2015

Iraqi-Born U.S. Citizen Admits Making False Statement to FBI

DALLAS—A Mesquite, Texas man, Bilal Abood, 37, appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez and pleaded guilty to a superseding indictment charging one count of making a false statement to a federal agency, announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, 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.

Abood faces a maximum statutory penalty of eight years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He has been in federal custody since his arrest in May 2015 by special agents with the FBI on a related criminal complaint. A sentencing date was not set.

According to plea documents filed in the case, Abood admits that on March 29, 2013, he attempted to depart the U.S. at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, but was not allowed to board the international flight. While at the airport, FBI special agents asked Abood about his planned travel, and he stated he was merely planning to travel to Iraq to visit family. During a subsequent interview, Abood admitted to FBI special agents that his intent on March 29, 2013, was to travel to Syria to fight the regime of Bashar Al Assad.

On approximately April 29, 2013, Abood left the U.S. through Mexico and traveled through various countries into Syria. On September 16, 2013, Abood returned to the U.S. and admitted to FBI special agents that he had traveled to Syria, but he denied supporting any terrorist groups.

A search warrant was executed on Abood’s computer on July 9, 2014. A review of that computer revealed that on approximately June 19, 2014, Abood stated, while using his Twitter handle @ibnalislaam, “I pledge obedience to the Caliphate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Abood stipulated that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the self-proclaimed leader of ISIL and was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on October 4, 2011, and remains so to date.

Abood admits that on April 14, 2015, FBI special agents advised him that lying to a federal agent is a crime. He further stipulates that on that date, he falsely told FBI special agents that he had never pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi. He also stipulates that he was aware the FBI special agents were investigating a matter that they suspected could involve international terrorism.

The FBI’s Dallas Division is investigating the case. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, with assistance from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.