Iraqi refugee jailed 16 years for Islamic State support
A refugee from Iraq was sentenced to 16 years in prison for seeking to join Islamic State and learn bomb-making skills.
Omar Faraj Saeed al-Hardan, a 25-year-old of Palestinian origin who was born in Iraq and lived in refugee camps in Iraq and Jordan, was accepted into the United States in 2009 before being sentenced by a Houston court on Monday.
He earned his permanent residency two years later and, according to US law enforcement, in 2013 began communicating with another refugee in California, discussing traveling to Syria to fight for the al-Nusra militant group.
The next year, he discussed with an FBI informant his hopes of traveling to fight with the Islamic State group and a desire to be trained in making detonators for improvised explosive devices.
He and the FBI informant also practiced shooting with an AK-47, and Hardan posted statements in support of Islamic State online, according to the Justice Department.
He was arrested in January 2016 and charged with providing material support to IS.
"Any person who provides material support to a foreign terrorist organisation will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Acting US Attorney Abe Martinez.
President Donald Trump has slashed the country's annual intake of refugees by more than half and placed restrictions on other immigrants, saying it is a conduit for potential terrorists to enter the United States.
Separately, a former Washington-area transit police officer was convicted of trying to help the Islamic State group.
Nicholas Young, a 37 convert to Islam, had tried to help another man join up with IS, only to find that the other man was an undercover FBI informant.
Oddly, Young was also called a neo-Nazi by prosecutors, while his lawyers defended him as simply someone with quirky hobbies.
He faces up to 60 years in prison.
‘End of the war’
In the last year, the militant group has suffered a host of losses to both its territory and military capabilities across Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Saturday declared victory in a three-year war by Iraqi forces to defeat the Islamic State group, which at its height endangered Iraq's very existence as a country.
In Syria, IS have faced separate onslaughts by forces backed by Russia and the US in Deir az-Zour province and now control just a tiny sliver of the region along the Euphrates river.
The defeat of IS is a massive turnaround for an organisation that in 2014 ruled over 7 million people in a territory as large as Italy encompassing large parts of Syria and nearly a third of Iraq.
Agencies contributed to this report.