A Saudi national living in Weatherford was indicted last week on charges of visa fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Now, authorities have revealed that the man, who has ties to al Quaeda, took flight lessons at a Grady County flight school.
A December 2001 raid on an al Quaeda safe house in Kandahar, Afghanistan, led to the recovery of a "trove" of documents. However, it wasn't until March 2017 that authorities were able to begin processing those documents.
The FBI discovered 15 latent prints belonging to Naif Abdulaziz Alfallaj, 34, including fingerprints on an al Farooq training camp intake form. The training camp is where many al Quaeda leaders and operatives trained, including some of those involved in the 9/11 hijackings and terror attacks.
Since his time in Afghanistan, Alfallaj had moved to the United States, and, in fact, was living in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Alfallaj moved to U.S. in December 2011 after applying for a non-immigrant spousal visa, claiming that his wife was a non-immigrant student visa holder. By March 2012, Alfallaj was living in Oklahoma. Records show he lived in Edmond from 2012 through 2016.
In October 2016, he applied for flight training through the TSA-administered Alien Flight Student Program (ASFP).
Alfallaj was a student at Chickasha Wings, where he completed training in June 2017. An instructor at the Chickasha flight school told reporters that the man was "difficult to work with."
Alfallaj is not the first suspected al Quaeda operative to have trained at an Oklahoma flight school.
Mohamed Atta, who flew a passenger plane into the World Trade Center's north tower, and Marwan al Shehhi, who flew another airplane into the World Trade Center's south tower, both visited the Airman Flight School at Max Westheimer Airport in Norman before moving on to attend other flight schools.
Zacarias Moussaoui, known as the "20th hijacker," attended the Airman Flight School, but struggled with the program and dropped out after 50 hours of flight training.
As for Alfallaj and his indictment, he has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. According to a press release by the US Justice Department,
Alfallaj faces up to ten years in prison on each of two counts of visa fraud. He also faces up to eight years in prison for making a false statement involving international terrorism. Deportation proceedings are expected to commence at the conclusion of criminal proceedings.