Criminal Justice

Houston man arrested after expressing support of killing Jews, interest in making bombs

In his testimony during a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security Hearing Tuesday, FBI Director Chris Wray said an ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States.

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Federal court documents

A Houston man is in federal custody after “studying how to build bombs and posting online about his support for killing Jews,” FBI Director Chris Wray said on Tuesday.

Houston resident Sohaib Abuayyash was referenced during a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security hearing on Tuesday, when Wray addressed looming threats on the United States amid a weeks-long war in the Middle East.

“The terrorist 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,” he said.

It has been weeks since Gazan militant organization Hamas conducted unprecedented attacks on Israel, and Israel responded with air strike attacks on Gaza days later. Attacks in the Middle East have continued since then, while thousands have been killed and the death toll continues to spike amid the ongoing conflict.

Pro-Palestinian rallies and local prayer vigils have drawn in massive crowds in Houston in recent weeks.

In his testimony Tuesday, Wray also mentioned a 6-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed in Illinois weeks ago in an alleged anti-Muslim attack. The FBI is investigating that incident as a federal hate crime, he said.

“Here in the United States our most immediate concern is that violent extremist 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,” Wray said.

20-year-old Abuayyash was arrested days ago and had been charged for unlawful possession of a firearm by an immigrant under a nonimmigrant visa. His visa status doesn’t permit him to possess or use firearms.

Unsealed court documents contain social media posts of Abuayyash using firearms at gun ranges around the city, KTRK reported.


Federal court documents

Recent court documents allege Abuayyash contacted others with “radical mindsets” and conducted training for a possible attack. Most court documents about Abuayyash currently remain sealed.

“I am deeply concerned by reports of a possible terrorist plot to attack the Jewish community in Houston,” Texas Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher said in a statement. “As anti-semitic threats against Jews in the United States have reached historic levels in recent weeks, it is critical that we ensure the safety of Jewish families in Texas’ Seventh Congressional District and across our country.”