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Calif. Man Charged After Secret Trip to Syria

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) - A Sacramento man has been arrested on a charge of making a false statement involving international terrorism, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, will make his first court appearance in the Eastern District of California on Friday. The criminal complaint was unsealed on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors say Al-Jayab traveled to Syria to fight alongside a Sunni terrorist organization and lied about it when he returned to the United States.

Specifically, prosecutors say the Iraq-born Al-Jayab told immigration authorities he had gone to Turkey to see his grandmother and then returned to the United States via Great Britain. He also denied having any connection with terrorist groups despite extensive communications with family members and others stating otherwise, according to an affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint.

Al-Jayab arrived in the United States as a refugee in 2012, and prosecutors believe he knew his refugee status would have been hampered if he had admitted traveling to Syria and outright revoked if he admitted fighting with terrorist groups.

If convicted, Al-Jayab faces up to 8 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Justice Department said investigators do not believe Al-Jayab had any plans to commit terrorist acts in the United States.

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