A Texas resident of Jordanian nationality, described as “radical,” is said to have been plotting an assault on Houston’s Jewish community before his apprehension on firearm-related charges.

Who is Sohaib Abuayyash?

Federal authorities assert that Sohaib Abuayyash, aged 20, had been researching bomb-making techniques and publicly expressed his support for harming Jewish individuals.

According to FBI Director Chris Wray, Abuayyash had been exposed to specific and detailed online content from radical organizations, including instructions on crafting explosive devices. He also allegedly made statements endorsing violence against individuals of particular religious faiths. Despite Wray’s reluctance to disclose Abuayyash’s identity during his testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, it is clear that the authorities were aware of his activities.

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Court documents obtained by CNN indicate that Abuayyash made direct references on social media to an event in Houston related to the Jewish community. However, the documents do not provide specifics regarding the target or timing of the purported attack.

Abuayyash is presently in custody on charges related to the unlawful possession of firearms by a non-immigrant visa holder. US Magistrate Judge Christina Bryan has determined that he should remain detained until his trial. Court documents indicate that Abuayyash spoke about martyrdom in support of a religious cause and expressed his desire to travel to Gaza for combat.

Federal investigators had been monitoring Abuayyash’s activities since August, when they discovered a video of him firing multiple firearms, including an AR-style weapon, during open-source research. Additionally, he reportedly frequented various firing ranges in the Houston area.

Abuayyash initially entered the United States on a non-immigrant visa that expired in 2019. However, he subsequently applied for asylum and received work authorization in the US until 2025. Nevertheless, under federal law, individuals with a non-immigrant visa are prohibited from legally obtaining firearms in the United States.

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Upon learning of Abuayyash’s alleged plan to target the Houston Jewish community, the FBI opted to pursue the most immediate charge available—unlawful possession of firearms. This allowed them to take him into custody while they continue their investigation.

FBI Director Wray cited this incident during his testimony to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, highlighting the concerns about the potential for attacks inspired by the conflict between Hamas and Israel. He stressed the need to be vigilant against the possibility of violent extremists drawing inspiration from international events to carry out attacks within the United States.