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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Iraqi refugee jailed for 16 years for supporting ISIL 

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 US in 2009

A refugee from Iraq was sentenced by a Houston court on Monday to 16 years in prison for seeking to join ISIL 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.

He earned his permanent residency two years later and, according to US law enforcement, in 2013 began communicating with another refugee in California, discussing travelling to Syria to fight for the Al Nusra extremist group.

The next year, he discussed with an FBI informant his hopes of travelling to fight with ISIL and a desire to be trained in making detonators for improvised explosive devices.

He and the FBI informant also practised shooting with an AK-47, and Al Hardan posted statements in support of ISIL online, according to the US justice department.

He was arrested in January 2016 and charged with providing material support to ISIL.

"Any person who provides material support to a foreign terrorist organisation will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," acting US attorney Abe Martinez said.

President Donald Trump has slashed by more than half the country's annual intake of refugees and placed restrictions on other immigrants, saying it is a conduit for potential terrorists to enter the US.

Separately, a former Washington-area transit police officer who converted to Islam was convicted of trying to help ISIL.

Nicholas Young, 37, had tried to help another enlist with ISIL, 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.

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