Iraqi de­nied bail over de­sire to set o≠ bombs

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

hous­ton» An Iraqi refugee fac­ing charges he tried to help the Is­lamic State wanted to set off bombs at two Hous­ton malls and was learn­ing to make elec­tronic trans­mit­ters that could be used to det­o­nate ex­plo­sive devices, a fed­eral agent tes­ti­fied Wed­nes­day.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Har­dan, who went to Hous­ton from Iraq in 2009, was in­dicted last week on three charges, in­clud­ing at­tempt­ing to pro­vide sup­port to a des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges dur­ing a court ap­pear­ance Wed­nes­day.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes de­nied grant­ing Al Har­dan bail, rul­ing that there would be a se­ri­ous risk that the Iraqi refugee would flee if re­leased from fed­eral cus­tody.

Hughes made his de­ci­sion af­ter lis­ten­ing to tes­ti­mony from Home­land Se­cu­rity Spe­cial Agent Her­man Wit­tliff, who said that in ad­di­tion to Al Har­dan want­ing to set off bombs at the two Hous­ton malls, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Gal­le­ria mall, the Iraqi man also was learn­ing how to make elec­tronic trans­mit­ters that could be used to det­o­nate im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive devices.

Al Har­dan wanted to use cell­phones — a col­lec­tion of which were found in his apart­ment — to det­o­nate the trans­mit­ters.

He wanted to build the trans­mit­ters for the Is­lamic State, Wit­tliff said.

“For what pur­pose?” asked pros­e­cu­tor Ralph Im­per­ato.

“So he could kill peo­ple,” Wit­tliff replied.

Al Har­dan’s ar­rest prompted crit­i­cism of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s refugee poli­cies from Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott, who has been a leader among Repub­li­can gov­er­nors call­ing for a halt to re­set­tle­ment of Syr­ian refugees in their states. Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called for a retroac­tive re­view of all refugees who have come to the U.S.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Har­dan, left, is es­corted by a U.S. mar­shal in Hous­ton. Bob Levey, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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