A teenage ISIS recruiter from Houston has been arrested and charged for allegedly making a bomb threat during a live online lecture on Zoom video at the University of Houston (UH) in Texas, police said. Authorities said 19-year-old Ibraheem Ahmed Al Bayati joined a UH zoom lecture last week and identified himself as Abu Qital al Jihadi al Mansur.
After some time, while the lecture was on, he stood up and made a bomb threat against the university. Al Bayati's threat immediately created panic among the students and the professor conducting the class. He was tracked down and arrested on Friday. If proven guilty, he could end up serving years in prison.
Joke or Real Threat
Al Bayati surprised several students and left them in a state of trauma after he Zoom-bombed his college lecture and blurted out in the middle of it, "What does any of this have to do with the fact that UH is about to get bombed in a few days?,'' federal authorities said. According to a criminal complaint filed in a Texas court, students immediately started panicking. "Gasps from students can be heard after Al Bayati made his proclamation," the complaint reads.
Besides, he also sought out ISIS supporters online during the lecture, helped an individual make a "pledge" and, claimed himself to be an ISIS recruiter. Al Bayati then repeated an Arabic phrase meaning "Islamic State will remain" before leaving the call that left the students gasping in panic.
Authorities said that before leaving the meeting he also held up an index finger, "which is often known as the 'tawheed finger' " — and "sometimes an indicator of radical Islamic ideology." Following a complaint, Al Bayati was tracked down by the IP address he used to log into the Zoom lecture and arrested on Friday.
Al Bayati, who is a US citizen and lives in Richmond outside Houston, reportedly told federal agents that his comments were all part of a joke between him and a friend. However, officers believe that he is lying and is a recruiter for the terror organization. Al Bayati agreed to a search of his cellphone records, which showed that last October, he told an associate that he "used a certain social media application to find ISIS supporters," the complaint said.
Naturally, the police have their reasons for believing the suspect as an ISIS recruiter. During interrogation, Al Bayati gave an example of helping helped an individual in a certain foreign city, "who did not speak Arabic (Al Bayati speaks Arabic), ... say the pledge thru voice messages. The 'pledge' appears to be a reference to the pledge potential recruits make when joining ISIS," according to the court document.
A spokesman from the University of Houston said in a statement on Tuesday that Al Bayati was never enrolled as a student and "in most instances of 'Zoombombing,' meeting login information was compromised — a student shared the online class link with Al Bayati." He now faces several charges, including making a bomb threat. If proven guilty he could end up spending 10 years in the jail.