A Saudi national, who attended an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in 2000 and then lied to conceal his activities when applying for a U.S. visa, has admitted to illegally obtaining the visa and lying to the FBI when questioned about it, announced the Justice Department last Friday.
Naif Alfallaj, 35, was arrested in Oklahoma earlier this year after the FBI discovered his fingerprints on documents recovered by U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the notorious Al Farooq terror training camp operated by al-Qaeda.
Alfallaj used his non-immigrant visa to enter the U.S. in 2011, and has been living in Oklahoma ever since. His wife holds an F-1 non-immigrant student visa; Alfallaj applied as a spouse.
According to the criminal complaint filed last February, Alfallaj filled out a five-page Mujahedeen data form when applying to enter the Al Farooq camp in September 2000. Using the kunya “Muthana al-Najdi” on the form, he listed his birthplace as Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and supplied the cell phone number of his father as a point of contact.
He agreed to a two-month training program at the Al Farooq camp for indoctrination into violent jihad and basic military tactics. The camp was known for providing instruction in firearms, explosives, chemical weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction.
At least four of the 9/11 hijackers attended the same camp.
After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. forces raided a safe house in Kandahar near the Al Farooq camp in December 2001. They seized more than 100 Mujahedeen data forms from the safe house, which have since been kept by the FBI.
In March 2017, the FBI Latent Print Operation Unit began processing the recovered forms. In November 2017, 15 of Alfallaj’s fingerprints were found on three of the five pages of his entry form. The prints were matched to fingerprints on forms he had submitted while applying for a pilot’s license from the TSA in October 2016, where he also listed his father’s cell phone number — the same number he used when entering the Al Farooq camp.
When Alfallaj applied for his visa in October 2011, he was asked questions about any possible support or prior activities related to international terrorism, to which he answered “no.” He was also asked about prior travel. After his non-immigrant visa was approved, he entered the U.S. in December 2011 and has resided in Oklahoma since March 2012.
In October 2016, Alfallaj used his visa to apply for initial training through the Alien Flight Student Program. He was required to submit all past and current passport and visa information, as well as provide his fingerprints, to the TSA.
Alfallaj completed his initial flight training in June 2017.
According to the flight school owner where Alfallaj conducted his training, he failed his pilot’s test twice. He also said that the FBI came looking for information on Alfallaj in July 2017.
The FAA sent Alfallaj an “Immediate Effective Order of Revocation” on September 15, 2017, revoking all flight certifications and ordering him to surrender all related certificates. The FAA order also said that Alfallaj’s flight credentials were being revoked because he was deemed by the TSA to be a risk of air piracy or terrorism.
Presumably based on that explanation, Alfallaj contacted the FBI’s Oklahoma City field office in December 2017 requesting a meeting, saying that he believed someone had reported him to the government.
Alfallaj met with FBI and ICE agents shortly thereafter, during which he was asked about any foreign travel he had failed to disclose, and any associations with foreign terrorist groups. Again, Alfallaj failed to disclose his travel to Afghanistan and his attendance at the Al Farooq terror training camp.
Alfallaj’s interview was recorded on both audio and video.
In a subsequent phone call on January 9, 2018, he confirmed his father’s cell phone number he had provided when applying for the visa in 2011, and that his father had that same cell phone number at the same time he had listed it on his Mujahedeen data form in September 2000.
He was arrested on February 5 and charged with obtaining a visa by fraud, using that fraudulent visa to obtain permission for flight school, and then lying to FBI investigators.
Last Friday, Alfallaj admitted to a count of visa fraud and another of making false statements to FBI investigators. Possible sentences for the visa fraud charge could be up to ten years, and eight for lying to the FBI. He also agreed to be deported after he serves his prison sentence.