Saudi man arrested in Oklahoma for alleged al Qaeda ties took flight lessons at Grady County school

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Days after a Saudi national and Weatherford resident was indicted with visa fraud and making false statements to the FBI, court documents and those who interacted with him are providing a clearer timeline about his time in the United States.

Naif Abdulaziz Alfallaj, 34, pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court on Tuesday.

Officials at a Chickasha flight school, Chickasha Wings, confirmed to News 4 on Thursday that Alfallaj was a student, but was reportedly “difficult to work with,” according to an instructor at the school. The school’s owner wasn’t available for comment.

In March 2017, the FBI began analyzing a trove of documents recovered during a December 2001 raid on an al Qaeda safe house in Kandahar, Afghanistan. According to the criminal complaint, 15 latent fingerprints matching Alfallaj were found on an intake document for the al Farooq training camp. Officials say some of the terrorist organization’s leaders and operatives were trained or instructed at the camp, located outside Kandahar, including some of the 9/11 hijackers.

When asked why it took so long to find a match, an unnamed FBI source told NBC News, “The technology has evolved over the years, allowing us to better check for fingerprint matches.” But a challenge has been analyzing the large volume of documents.

Alfallaj is facing two counts of visa fraud and making a false statement to the FBI for concealing the application and attendance at the camp. A public defender and interpreter were appointed by the court, and a detention hearing is set for next week.

Little is known about the 34-year-old’s background. But court documents are providing a timeline of what investigators have put together about his time in the United States and his alleged travel to an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000.

Court documents say in October 2011, Alfallaj applied for a non-immigrant spousal visa, stating his wife is a non-immigrant student visa holder in the United States. The application was approved six days later.

Alfallaj first entered the US in December 2011 and began living in Oklahoma in March 2012. Oklahoma court records show he lived in Edmond between 2012 and 2016.

In October 2016, the criminal complaint affidavit says Alfallaj used the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) — which is administered by the Transportation Security Administration — to apply to flight training school, submitting his visa and fingerprints. He completed initial flight training at the school in June 2017.

Last November, the FBI confirmed the 15 prints found on one of the Mujahedeen Data Forms matched those Alfallaj provided when applying for his pilot’s license.

It’s not clear when Alfallaj moved to Weatherford. Southwestern Oklahoma State University says Alfallaj wasn’t a student or employee, but he did live with his wife at an apartment near the campus.

An eviction notice was posted on the door Wednesday afternoon.

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