Helena-West Helena man indicted in terrorism case

Helena-West Helena man indicted in terrorism case

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Federal authorities said Friday that a Helena-West Helena man provided material support and resources to Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.

Bilal Al-Rayanni, 28, was indicted for supporting a terrorist organization and providing a false name on a passport.

The United States Attorney’s Office and FBI office in Little Rock, as well as the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and the Assistant Attorney General for National Security provided details on the indictment Friday.

“The superceding indictment alleges that Al-Rayanni, also known as Bilal Kassim Alawdi, provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization known as Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula. According to the superceding indictment, Al-Rayanni provided support by working as personnel for the AQAP for three months in Yemen in 2014, knowing that the organization engaged in terrorism," prosecutors said in a news release.

Al-Rayanni lived in the state before going to Yemen in 2014 and authorities believe his actions took place outside the United States before he returned to Arkansas.

Al-Rayanni was originally indicted July 11 in federal court for making a false statement on a passport application, by giving a false name on the application, federal prosecutors said.

He is scheduled to appear in federal court Aug. 15 before a federal magistrate.

In a statement Friday, U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland said the investigation into Al-Rayanni happened due to the work of law enforcement and citizens.

“The government’s first responsibility is to protect our people and our national interests. Thanks to the diligent work of special agents with the FBI and Department of State, this indictment demonstrates our nation’s continuing commitment in the ongoing fight against foreign terrorist groups and those who promote and support those groups,” Hiland said.

Al-Rayanni could face up to 20 years in federal prison on the terrorism charge and 15 years in federal prison on the passport charge, if found guilty.

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