DALLAS (Reuters) - An Iraqi immigrant described as a former U.S. military translator was ordered held without bond by a federal judge on Friday on charges of lying about pledging allegiance to the leader of Islamic State, prosecutors said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Toliver ruled Bilal Abood is a flight risk and ordered him detained, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
In a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Dallas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation accused Abood, 37, of traveling by way of several countries, including Mexico and Turkey, to Syria in April 2013 and returning to the United States that September.
When Abood, who lives in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, arrived back in the United States, he told the FBI he went there to fight with the Free Syrian Army.
When the FBI, armed with a search warrant, seized his computer last year, it discovered that Abood had “pledged an oath to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” according to the complaint. It said that on July 19, 2014, using an Islamic pseudonym, Abood tweeted: “I pledge obedience to the Caliphate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
The complaint said that when FBI agents last month went to Abood’s residence to return the computer, he denied ever pledging allegiance to the Islamic State leader but acknowledged that it was a crime to lie to the FBI.
A U.S. defense official said Abood had been a translator for the U.S. military.
Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel in Washington; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Ted Botha