WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Texas man accused of trying to deliver money, GPS devices, cellphone chips and other material to al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing has been indicted by a federal grand jury, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Barry Bujol Jr., of Hempstead, Texas, was formally charged in Houston with attempting to deliver material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group that claimed responsibility for the December 25, 2009 failed bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger plane.
Bujol, 29, was arrested on May 30 when he boarded a ship docked at a Houston-area port, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
“This arrest is a sobering reminder of the threat we continue to face,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Richard Powers. “It remains the FBI’s overriding priority to predict and prevent terrorist attacks, at home and abroad.”
According to court documents unsealed Thursday, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Bujol in 2008 and determined he had communicated via e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a militant Muslim cleric wanted by U.S. authorities.
The court documents allege that Awlaki had provided Bujol with a document entitled “42 Ways of Supporting Jihad,” and that Bujol had asked Awlaki for advice on how to provide money to the “mujahideen” overseas.
The U.S.-born Awlaki is a leading figure linked to AQAP. He has said he had contacts with the Nigerian suspect in the attempted Christmas Day plane bombing and with a U.S. army psychiatrist accused of shooting dead 13 people at a military base in Texas last year.
An FBI informant whom Bujol believed to be an AQAP operative said Bujol repeatedly expressed a desire to travel overseas to fight in violent jihad for al Qaeda in Yemen, according to the court documents.
The informant provided Bujol with a false identification card and the materials Bujol allegedly agreed to carry to AQAP operatives in an unidentified Middle Eastern country, the court documents said.
Bujol was also indicted on a charge of aggravated identity theft for allegedly using a false government-issue identification card to enter the secure area of the Houston port.
He could face up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted on both charges.
Editing by Paul Simao