- Associated Press - Thursday, May 24, 2012

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas man convicted of trying to sneak out of the U.S. to give al Qaeda restricted military documents, GPS equipment and money was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner also ordered Barry Walter Bujol Jr. to pay a $10,000 fine.

Bujol was convicted in November on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors said Bujol, a U.S. citizen, sought to join al Qaeda and provide it with money, two nonpublic restricted-access Army manuals and GPS equipment. He was arrested in May 2010 following a two-year investigation after using fake identification to sneak into a Houston port and board a ship bound for the Middle East.

The 31-year-old said he never intended to harm the United States or any American citizens, and that he had wanted to leave the country was because he was displeased with U.S. foreign policy. He said he wanted to become a better Muslim.

Authorities used an undercover informant who befriended Bujol and, posing as a recruiter for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, offered to help him travel to the Middle East. The informant wasn’t a law enforcement agent.

Authorities said Bujol had previously made three unsuccessful attempts in 2009 to travel to Yemen or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Prosecutors also alleged Bujol exchanged emails with the U.S.-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had ties to al Qaeda.

Al-Awlaki, killed by a U.S. drone strike in September in Yemen, is also believed to have exchanged emails with Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged in the killing of 13 people in the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood in Texas.

According to court documents, Bujol used at least 14 email addresses to hide his activities from authorities and he advocated attacking U.S. facilities where military weapons were manufactured.

Bujol, who lived in Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, was a student at nearby Prairie View A&M University.