Another U.S. citizen who communicated with al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki has been charged in federal court, the Justice Department said Thursday.
A federal grand jury in Houston indicted Barry Walter Bujol Jr., 29, for attempting to provide material support to an affiliate of al-Qaeda known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Bujol also was charged with aggravated identity theft, according to the Justice Department.
Bujol was arrested on May 30 after he boarded a ship at a port in the Houston area prepared to travel overseas to fight jihad, the Justice Department said.
Bujol, of Hempstead, Texas, first came under investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2008, according to a DOJ news release.
Agents learned he began communicating with al-Awlaki via e-mail, according to court documents. Al-Awlaki allegedly sent Bujol a document entitled “42 Ways of Supporting Jihad” and other materials. Bujol allegedly made several attempts to leave the country and travel to either Yemen or the Middle East, the Justice Department said.
Al-Awlaki, who had ties to three of the Sept. 11 hijackers, was also in contact with alleged Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan, U.S. officials have said. The Army psychiatrist allegedly opened fire at the Texas military base on Nov. 5, killing 13.
Al-Awlaki was also reportedly an inspiration for the Nigerian national who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day and the Pakistani-born naturalized U.S. citizen Faisal Shazad, charged with the attempted car-bombing of New York’s Times Square.
The investigation of Bujol appeared to accelerate about the time of Hasan’s alleged rampage, as it became clear that early-warning signs about Hasan’s radicalization — including his contacts with al-Awlaki — hadn’t been fully grasped by law enforcement.
The Justice Department said the FBI deployed a “confidential human source” last November on the Bujol case, but didn’t give the exact date.
Bujol allegedly expressed a desire to travel oversees to fight jihad, and the FBI’s undercover source provided him with a false identification card, which he used to gain access to a secure area of the port, and other materials allegedly for use in jihad, the Justice Department said. FBI agents arrested him once he boarded the ship.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. White III and Gary Cobe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and Garrett Heenan, a trial attorney from the Counterterrorism Section of DOJ’s National Security Division, are prosecuting the case, said the Justice Department.
Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico in 1971 but is now based in his family’s native Yemen, is also reportedly on a CIA list of people approved for targeted killing. U.S. analysts believe he has moved from attempting to incite violence to assisting Al-Qaeda in planning operations.