Refugee from Iraq to U.S. pleads guilty of attempting to join Islamic State

Refugee from Iraq to U.S. pleads guilty of attempting to join Islamic State

An Iraqi-born man who entered the United States as a refugee pleaded guilty on Monday in Texas to attempting to volunteer to fight with Islamic State, federal prosecutors said.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al-Hardan, 24, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Houston to one count of attempting to provide material support, specifically himself, to the militant group, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the southern district of Texas said in a statement.

Al-Hardan, who most recently lived in Houston, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 17, prosecutors said.

The case comes during a U.S. presidential race in which the question of admitting refugees from the Middle East, especially Syria, has become a point of contention between the two leading candidates.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has called for increasing the number of Syrian refugees admitted and said the United States can adequately screen them. Republican nominee Donald Trump has opposed their entry and called for “extreme vetting” of incoming Muslim immigrants.

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