A 30-year-old Prairie View A&M student has been convicted of providing aid to Al Qaeda.
Barry Walter Bujol Jr. had a four-day bench trial before U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who ruled this afternoon. Bujol offered no witnesses or defense to charges he had materially aided what the U.S. has declared to be a designated foreign terrorist organization.
"The prosecution of this case and its result should serve as a deterrent and sends a clear message to anyone contemplating the illegal support of terrorist organizations," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said. "This office will continue to vigorously pursue all cases involving those who attempt to engage in similar illegal activities."
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Evidence at trial revealed that Bujol had been in contact with Anwar Al-Aulaqi, a now-deceased Yemeni-American AQAP associate and a proponent of violent jihad against the United States. Bujol had asked Al-Aulaqi for advice on raising money for the "mujahideen" without attracting police attention and on his duty as a Muslim to make "violent jihad." Al-Aulaqi replied to Bujol's e-mails by sending Bujol a document entitled "42 Ways of Supporting Jihad," which asserted that "'jihad' is the greatest deed in Islam...[and] obligatory on every Muslim." Court records indicated that the "jihad" Al-Aulaqi advocated involved violence and killing. The document implored Muslims, among other things, to conduct firearms training, improve their physical fitness for guerrilla warfare and to make "violent jihad."
Bujol was foiled three different times trying to leave the country to go to the Middle East, prosecutors say.
After his arrest, federal agents "found a home-made video montage of still photographs, including images of Osama bin Laden, Najibullah Zazi and multiple armed 'mujahideen' fighters, which Bujol narrated. On the video, which was offered into evidence at trial, he addressed his words to his wife, explaining that he had left her suddenly and without forewarning to pursue 'jihad.' Bujol told her he would likely not see her until the afterlife."
He faces 15 years in prison on the terrorism charge, with another five for an identity-theft charge.