A San Diego man has been sentenced for lying to officials during a terrorism-related international investigation, telling them he did not know any members of the Islamic State and did not fight in coordination with a terrorist organization, the U.S. attorney's office announced.
Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, 25, a naturalized U.S. citizen of San Diego, was sentenced to eight years in prison for making false statements to the FBI and State Department officials. He pleaded guilty in October 2015 to one count of making false statements involving international terrorism.
Kodaimati traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, in December 2012, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a news release. He visited Syria on the same trip.
As part of the plea agreement, Kodaimati admitted that he lied when asked whether he knew any members of Islamic State in Iraq, known as ISIS. He also lied when he told officials he was never involved with Al Nusrah, another terrorist organization, according to the plea. Officials said he lied when claiming he never engaged in combat or fired a weapon at anyone.
"The defendant deliberately hid his connections to terrorists and the fact that he participated in combat in Syria," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, in a statement. "This is an appropriately severe sentence that underscores the very serious nature of a crime that has the potential to jeopardize our national security."
Kodaimati admitted he fought against the Syrian regime, shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nursrah fighters, according to the plea agreement.
In March 2015, Kodaimati spoke with officials at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, according to the release. It was during this meeting he lied to them.
"This investigation underscores the serious threat posed by the violent propaganda being spread by international terrorist organizations both here and abroad," said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego, in a statement.
Kodaimati was born in Syria and became a naturalized citizen in September 2008. Kodaimati returned to San Diego on March 29, 2015. He was arrested by FBI agents and members of the San Diego Joint Terrorism Task Force in Rancho Bernardo on April 22.