HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Omar Al Hardan, a 24-year-old Palestinian national, appeared in federal court and was indicted for helping terrorists. He was formally arrested on Wednesday at the Homeland Security office. Al Hardan listened on Friday as the judge read three charges which the U.S. Attorney's Office says they are taking very seriously.
A sketch artist drew Al Hardan as he stood before a judge. He did not enter a plea and was charged on the following three counts:
- providing materials to a terrorist organization,
- lying in his application to become a U.S. citizen
- not telling the truth about having weapons training
The U.S. Attorney's Office says it ahs solid evidence that Al Hardan has ties to ISIS.
"He was prepared to take whatever action on his own behalf to assist the organization," U.S. Attorney Ken Magidson said. Al Hardan told the judge he has a wife and one child who apparently live in a Houston-area apartment complex.
A detention hearing is scheduled on Wednesday to determine whether or not Al Hardan will be granted bond. Prosecutors say after that he will be arraigned and a date for trial will be set.
"The defendant is facing up 20 years for the terrorist act and count two is 25 years because it involves terrorism as well which is the procurement of unlawful citizenship," Magidson said.
This arrest continues to spark national debate on whether the U.S. is doing enough to screen Syrian refugees. Prosecutors say they won't get into politics.
"We ensure people who are charged with federal crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent law and that's where my focus is and will always be," Magidson said.
Prosecutors say if Al Hardan is convicted and he's not a U.S. citizen, steps will be taken to deport him.
The suspect's brother reportedly said that the charges against his brother came as a surprise because their family always felt that "ISIS is no good."
The brother also reportedly said that the suspect told him he's innocent of the charges.
Al Hardan has a detention hearing set for next Wednesday to determine whether he'll granted bond.