US & Canada

Refugees arrested in California and Texas on terror charges

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Two men from the Middle East who came to the US as refugees have been charged with supporting terrorism.

The arrests took place in California and Texas, but neither man was charged with plotting an attack on the US.

Both men are Iraqi-born Palestinians and had likely been in contact with the other but were not involved in a single plot, Reuters reported.

The arrests add fuel to a national debate over the security risks posed by refugees from the Middle East.

Court documents say that the men wanted to support organisations with ties to the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, of Sacramento, California, is accused to travelling to Syria to fight in the country's civil war and with lying to US authorities about his activities.

US Attorney Benjamin Wagner released a statement saying that there was no evidence Mr Al-Jayab planned any attacks in the US, but said he was potentially dangerous.

Court documents say that he came to the US from Syria as a refugee in October of 2012. He lived in Wisconsin and Arizona briefly, during which time he communicated on social media about his desire to return to Syria to fight alongside militant groups and cited his experience fighting against the Syrian regime as early as when he was 16 years old.

According to the FBI, he left the US for a few months at the end of 2013 before returning the next year.

Authorities say that he fought along side various groups, including Ansar al-Islam, which merged with IS in 2014. On social media, he was critical of IS for killing Muslims, but said if it were not for that, he "would have been the first to join it".

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Image caption Texas Governor Greg Abbott, seen in a file photo, said the Texas case illustrated his concerns about US refugee policy

Texas authorities said that Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, 24, of Houston had been charged with providing material support to terrorists and for making false statements.

There is no evidence that Mr Al Hardan was a threat in the United States, but did prompt the Republican-led government in Texas to issue a rebuke of President Barack Obama's refugee policies.

"This is precisely why I called for a halt to refugees entering the US from countries substantially controlled by terrorists," Governor Greg Abbott said.

The documents do not detail the men's connection.

The arrests are similar to dozens of previous apprehensions in the US as part of a campaign against terrorism.

Since 2014, there have been over 75 arrests of allegedly radicalised US residents, according to Reuters.

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