The Iraqi refugee arrested in Sacramento earlier this month in connection with a federal terror probe pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of making false statements involving international terrorism.
Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, 23, an American River College student and security guard, was indicted Jan. 14 for allegedly lying to U.S. authorities about his activities overseas in 2013 and 2014, when he allegedly traveled to Syria to help rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. Court documents say Al-Jayab lied when asked about his travel, claiming falsely that he went to Turkey to see his grandmother.
In a brief hearing Friday in U.S. District Court, Al-Jayab entered his plea of not guilty and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Thomas told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman that the government had 280,000 pages of discovery – some of it duplicative – consisting of Facebook account pages, as well as interview transcripts and audio and video recordings.
Al-Jayab’s attorney, Assistant Federal Defender Ben Galloway, has insisted Al-Jayab never planned or supported terrorist acts in the United States.
The suspect is being held in the Sacramento County jail without bail and faces up to eight years in prison if convicted. Galloway complained Friday that his client has been held in “total separation” from other inmates for 15 days. Al-Jayab is only allowed out of his cell every two or three days for 30 minutes to shower and call his family and attorney, Galloway said.
“We’ve seen the toll it has taken in 15 days,” Galloway said. “This case is going to take a lot longer than 15 days.”
Newman directed Galloway to discuss his concerns with the jail and the U.S. Marshals Service and set the next court date for March 17.