A Jordanian national living in Texas has been arrested on gun charges after the FBI said that he was allegedly plotting an attack on Houston’s Jewish community.
The FBI gathered evidence against Sohaib Abuayyash, aged 20, which apparently shows his violent antisemitic rhetoric and his decision to undergo firearms training and research how to make homemade bombs, as reported by CNN.
Abuayyash is in the United States on an expired nonimmigrant visa. He has applied for asylum and obtained work authorization until August 2025.
The firearms training, which was apparently recorded in videos that the FBI said were posted to social media, became the basis for making the arrest.
Abuayyash’s immigration status prohibited his “possess[ion] or use of firearms or ammunition,” according to an affidavit filed on October 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, per CNN, which obtained a copy of the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, Abuayyash “has been in direct contact with others who share a radical mindset, has been conducting physical training, and has trained with weapons to possibly commit an attack.”
Though the affidavit is limited in details, magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan, in an order to detain Abuayyash without bail, wrote that the accused “has viewed specific and detailed content posted by radical organizations on the internet including lessons on how to construct bombs or explosive devices; and that Defendant has made statements to others that support the killing of individuals of particular religious faiths,” according to CNN.
“In his communications with another individual about martyrdom, the Defendant referenced an event in Houston for members of a particular religious group,” the judge added. CNN reported that Abuayyash intended to attack a Jewish gathering.
Abuayyash also “has made statements that he wants to go to Gaza to fight,” according to the judge’s order, as reported by CBS News.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, making his opening statement before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on Tuesday, said, “The reality is that the terrorism threat has been elevated throughout 2023, but the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level.”
Wray was referring to Abuayyash in these remarks, FBI spokesperson Christina Garza told CNN.
Referencing Abuayyash’s case, the FBI director continued:
“Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists — individuals or small groups — will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives. That includes not just homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities. We’ve seen that already with the individual we arrested last week in Houston who’d been studying how to build bombs and posted online about his support for killing Jews.”
Abuayyash will be held pending trial. The investigation continues, and Abuayyash may face additional charges at a later date, according to CNN.