According to a federal agent who testified, "an Iraqi refugee who is facing charges that he tried to help the Islamic State group wanted to set off bombs at two Houston malls and was learning to make electronic transmitters that could be used to detonate explosive devices."
Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, who came 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 on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes denied granting Al Hardan a bond, ruling that there would be a serious risk that the Iraqi refugee would flee if released from federal custody.
The judge made the decision on bail after hearing how Al Hardin wanted to set off bombs at two popular Houston malls and was learning how to make electronic transmitters that could be used to detonate an improvised electronic device. Al Hardin was trying to use cell phones to remotely detonate explosive devices; a collection was found at his apartment, according to Special Agent Herman Wittliff.
"He wanted to build them (the transmitters) for ISIL," Wittliff said.
"For what purpose?" asked prosecutor Ralph Imperato.
"So he could kill people," Wittliff replied.
Prosecutors say that Al Hardin was coordinating with another Iraqi refugee in California. The men communicated through Facebook Messenger from April 2013 to October 2014.
"Once I get the passport I will leave America, I will leave. I will make a widow of you," Al Hardan said to his wife, according to the excerpt read in court. "I will go to Syria. I am not wacko. I am not wacko. I am speaking the truth. I want to blow myself up. I want to blow myself up... I am against America."