- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Authorities arrested two Iraqi refugees on terrorism-related charges Thursday, in a move that undercuts President Obama’s plans to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. this year.

Prosecutors said Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, a Palestinian born in Iraq who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Syria in October 2012, later traveled back to Syria to train with terrorists, then lied to immigration officials about it later.

Even as he arrived in the U.S., he was plotting to join the fight with terrorists in Syria, according to government documents that said he talked about having killed Syrian security officers.

Investigators also indicted Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a Palestinian man born in Iraq, on three counts of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State.

The revelations are a major blow to Mr. Obama, who had insisted the Iraqi refugee program was a success and it proved the U.S. could properly screen out would-be bad actors from the Syrian refugee population as well.

Mr. Al Hardan came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2009, and was granted a green card, signifying permanent status and a path to citizenship, in 2011. Authorities say he lied on his citizenship application in saying he had no associations with terrorists, when in fact he had received machine gun training from the Islamic State.

Meanwhile Mr. Al-Jayab, while living in Arizona and Wisconsin, came to the U.S. in 2012, and communicated with terrorists until late 2013, when he traveled to Syria, prosecutors said. While there, he posted on social media that he was fighting with Ansar al-Islam, a designated terrorist organization, before returning to the U.S. in January 2014 to live in Sacramento.

According to the affidavit filed to support his arrest, Mr. Al-Jayab bragged of having fought with Ansar al-Islam in Iraq before he was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee. He also said he executed forces loyal to the Syrian regime, and expressed fears that U.S. officials were onto his plans, saying he was “afraid of being imprisoned in America” and acknowledging that his travel to Syria was illegal.

He would later omit his travel to Syria on his form when he re-entered the U.S.

He has been charged with making a false involving terrorism.

“While he represented a potential safety threat, there is no indication that he planned any acts of terrorism in this country,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, in the eastern district of California, said in a statement announcing the arrest.

Obama administration officials had said the Iraqi refugee program, which has vetted thousands of refugees over the last decade, had helped them learn how to screen out potential bad actors. Officials pointed to their experience with Iraq as proof they could also screen out Syrians.

But opponents have said Syria is a tougher country than Iraq. In Iraq, U.S. forces are on the ground and have access to Iraqi government databases. In Syria, not such cooperation is possible with a regime the U.S. has deemed an enemy.

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