International terrorism

Bilal Al-Rayanni, 28, a citizen of Yemen living in Arkansas, is accused of supporting a terrorist organization in Yemen. Yemen (national flag shown above) is a nation of about 28 million located south of Saudi Arabia.

A Helena-West Helena resident has been charged with providing support to a terrorist organization.

A federal grand jury has charged Bilal Al-Rayanni, 28, a Yemeni national living in Arkansas, with supporting a terrorist organization in Yemen as well as providing a false name on a passport.

The superseding 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 (AQAP). According to the superseding 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.

Al-Rayanni lived in Arkansas prior to traveling to Yemen in 2014. The superseding indictment states that this activity occurred within an extraterritorial jurisdiction of the United States, meaning that Al-Rayanni’s alleged criminal actions took place out of the country, before he returned to Arkansas.

Al-Rayanni was originally charged on July 11, 2019, in a one-count indictment charging him with making a false statement on a passport application in May of this year, alleging that he used a false name on the application. Al-Rayanni will be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney on Thursday. Al-Rayanni has been held in federal custody since originally arrested on the passport charge on June 27, 2019.

The penalty for providing material support to a terrorist organization is not more than 20 years’ imprisonment, and the penalty for providing a false statement on a passport application is not more than 15 years’ imprisonment. Both crimes carry a fine of up to $250,000 and not more than three years of supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Little Rock Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stacy Williams and Mike Gordon, and National Security Division Attorney Andrew Sigler.

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