Jordanian living in Houston accused of studying how to make bombs, supporting killing Jews, FBI says

Mycah Hatfield Image
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Jordanian man charged for support of 'killing Jews', FBI director says
A Jordanian man living in Houston was charged after studying how to make bombs and vocalizing his support of killing Jews, the FBI director said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Jordanian citizen living in Houston has been vocal about his support for killing Jews, according to the director of the FBI.

Sohaib Abuayyash, 20, is charged with a federal count of possession of a weapon by a prohibited person.

During his testimony on Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security, where he discussed threats to the country, FBI Director Christopher Wray referenced Abuayyash, although he did not use his name.

"We have seen that with an individual we arrested last week in Houston had studied how to build bombs and posted online about his support for killing Jews," Wray said during his testimony.

He said the most immediate concern to the country is violent extremists who draw inspiration from events in the Middle East and plan attacks on Americans. Wray referred to Abuayyash as one.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Abuayyash is a Jordanian citizen who travels using a Palestinian passport. He applied for asylum in the U.S. in 2020, and the application is pending.

Under his current legal status in the U.S., the 20-year-old is not allowed to possess weapons or ammunition, according to the complaint.

The document shows screenshots of posts to TikTok and Instagram of Abuayyash using different types of firearms at gun ranges throughout the city.

"Abuayyash has been in direct contact with others who share a radical mindset, has been conducting physical training, and has trained with weapons possibly to commit an attack," the criminal complaint alleges.

A judge signed a document saying that Abuayyash should remain in custody until trial because there are not any conditions that guarantee the safety of others and the community.

The FBI cannot comment on the case specifically because it is pending, but issued the following statement:

"The FBI is continuing to monitor threats associated with the Israel-HAMAS conflict in the United States and overseas. As the conflict continues, the FBI has seen an increase in reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions, raising our concern that violent extremists and lone offenders motivated by or reacting to ongoing events could target these communities.

We take all potential threats seriously and are working closely with our law enforcement partners to determine their credibility, share information, and take appropriate investigative action. As we are communicating with our law enforcement partners, faith communities, and others, the Public Service Announcement linked below is being released by the FBI and DHS to the American public to help protect our communities.

We ask members of the public to immediately report anything or anyone they consider suspicious to law enforcement or contact their local FBI Office: Tips can also be submitted to or 1-800-CALL FBI."

The FBI said they are concerned with "lone actors" who do not share their plans with others. A spokesperson said they usually look to attack "soft, familiar targets" with easily acquired weapons. Those people are more challenging to identify, investigate, and disrupt before carrying out their plans.

Mark Toubin, the southwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, they have recorded an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents.

From Oct. 7 to Oct. 23, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 312 incidents versus the same period the year before, where they received 64 reports nationwide.

"Unfortunately, there are those who have said that those kinds of heinous crimes are justified because of the conflict, and when you start from there, you can only imagine what kind of green light it provides other people," Toubin said.

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher, who is a member of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, issued the following statement regarding Abuayyash's arrest:

"I am deeply concerned by reports of a possible terrorist plot to attack the Jewish community in Houston. As antisemitic threats against Jews in the United States have reached historic levels in recent weeks, it is critical that we ensure the safety of Jewish families in Texas' Seventh Congressional District and across our country. I am grateful and relieved that the FBI acted swiftly to thwart any planned attack, and I am requesting an immediate briefing from the FBI to discuss efforts to keep our community's Jewish families safe."

For more on this story, follow Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.