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Federal grand jury indicts Palestinian illegal on gun charges

The charges allege that Sohaib Abuayyash "has been conducting physical training and has trained with weapons to possibly commit an attack," according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The federal Bob Casey United State Court House in Houston, Texas. Credit: JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock.
The federal Bob Casey United State Court House in Houston, Texas. Credit: JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock.

A federal grand jury in Houston has indicted Sohaib Abuayyash, 20, a “Palestinian citizen” charged with being in the country illegally and possession “of a firearm by a prohibited person,” the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Texas announced on Friday.

Abuayyash allegedly “knowingly possessed a firearm, namely a Canik, model TP9 Elite SC, 9-mm pistol,” per the indictment.

The FBI arrested Abuayyash on Oct. 19, and he remains detained. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 13 in Houston, the U.S. attorney’s office stated. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

Abuayyash allegedly entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, which expired in 2019, and “has allegedly been in direct contact with others who share a radical mindset,” the U.S. attorney’s office stated. “The charges further allege he has been conducting physical training and has trained with weapons to possibly commit an attack.”

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee last week, Christopher Wray, the FBI director, said—without referencing Abuayyash by name—that there was an “individual we arrested last week in Houston, who had been studying how to build bombs and posted online about his support for killing Jews.”

The New York Post reported that the accused is a Jordanian national. A law enforcement source told CNN that he was “plotting to attack a Jewish gathering.”

The FBI is still investigating.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) introduced a bill, H.R.6211, on Nov. 2 to “prohibit the secretary of homeland security or the secretary of state, as applicable, from approving any application for or issuing a nonimmigrant or immigrant visa to nationals of Palestine.”

The bill, which the congressman is calling the “Safeguarding Americans from Extremism (SAFE) Act,” currently has 10 co-sponsors, all Republicans.

If passed, the legislation “also revokes any entrance of covered aliens who were granted visas or entered the United States on or after Oct. 1, 2023,” Zinke stated.

“I don’t trust the Biden administration any more than I do the Palestinian Authority to screen who is allowed to come into the United States,” he added. “This is the most anti-Hamas immigration legislation I have seen, and it’s well deserved.”

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