Oklahoma man accused of attending al Qaeda terrorist training camp before 9/11

by Pete Williams /  / Updated 
Image: A video grab of al Farooq Training Camp
A video grab dated June 19, 2001 shows members of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, or "The Base", organization training with AK-47 sub-machine-guns in a video tape said to have been prepared and released by bin Laden himself.AFP / AFP - Getty Images file

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An Oklahoma man was arrested Tuesday by the FBI, accusing of lying about attending an al Qaeda terrorist training camp, officials said.

A federal grand jury in Oklahoma City handed up the indictment Tuesday against 34-year-old Naif Abdulaziz Alfallaj, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, charging him with visa fraud and lying to FBI agents.

Prosecutors said he came to the United States just more than six years ago and failed to indicate on his application for a visa that he attended al Qaeda's al Farooq training camp in Afghanistan in fall 2000.

Federal law enforcement officials said Alfallaj was caught after the FBI recently discovered that his fingerprints matched those found on documents that were seized when the U.S. military raided the camp 16 years ago.

He pleaded not guilty during a brief federal court hearing Tuesday and was ordered held without bond pending a detention hearing next week.

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Court documents said that when Alfallaj was questioned in December by the FBI, he denied ever traveling to Afghanistan or associating with any foreign terrorist groups.

Authorities said Alfallaj entered the U.S. in late 2011 on a nonimmigrant visa based on his wife's status as a foreign student. The indictment said Alfallaj answered "no" on an immigration application when asked if he supported terrorist organizations or had received firearms or other specialized training.

Investigators said Alfallaj applied for training at a flight school in western Oklahoma in 2016 and provided his fingerprints as required. Five months later, prosecutors said, FBI analysts discovered a match between those prints and 15 latent fingerprints that were found on al Qaeda forms filled out by people attending the al Farooq training camp.

Federal officials said Alfallaj has been living in Oklahoma since 2012 after having traveled to the United States to join his wife.

Related: Newly released bin Laden document describes Iran, al Qaeda link

The al Qaeda documents were among more than 100 similar forms seized by the U.S. military in December 2001. Asked why it took so long to find a match, an FBI official said the military provided "rooms and rooms" of documents and other materials from the camp to analyze.

"The technology has evolved over the years, allowing us to better check for fingerprint matches. And part of the challenge is the sheer volume of the work," the official said, asking that his name not be disclosed.

Image: A video grab of al Farooq Training Camp
A video grab dated June 19, 2001 shows members of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, or "The Base", organization training with AK-47 sub-machine-guns in a video tape said to have been prepared and released by bin Laden himself.AFP / AFP - Getty Images file

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