Gaafar Muhammed Ebrahim Al-Wazer

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Vetting Year
Time from U.S. Entry to Discovery
1 year, 4 months
National Security Crime Type
Nationality of Perpetrator
Immigration Status Type
F-1; Temporary Protective Status and renewal
Agency Responsible for Failure
State Department for F-1; USCIS for Temporary Protected Status and TPS renewals
Opportunities Missed
Nation(s) Vetting Occurred
Arresting Agency
Criminal Charges
False statements and lying to the FBI
Case Outcome
Convicted 03/2021 for false statements
Case Summary

A 2019 federal indictment accused Yemeni student Gaafar Muhammed Ebrahim Al-Wazer in Pennsylvania of lying to the FBI about his experience fighting with the Iran-backed, anti-America Houthi rebels and that he harbored such fervent hatreds that his Facebook page wished "death to all Americans, especially Jews'' and vowed he would stay on the path of jihad.

Al-Wazer successfully covered up his involvement with the Houthi rebels for his 2014 interview with U.S. consular officers in Yemen, and in two interviews with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agents for Temporary Protected Status in 2016 and in 2017, despite social media postings by then indicating Houthi rebel support and involvement. He received TPS status after both vetting opportunities and was not discovered until 2019, when a tipster provided federal agents with social media postings by Al-Wazer, who checked the “no” box or answered in the negative when asked if he had ever held membership in a militia, had training, or had sided with any armed faction in Yemen’s conflict.

“The defendant knew that this answer was false because he in fact did support one of the sides in the conflict in Yemen, as evidenced by his social media posts and communications,” a government sentencing memorandum stated.

During warfare in Saana, Yemen, involving an offensive by Houthi rebels in October 2014, Al-Wazer applied online for an F-1 nonimmigrant student visa to study English for nine months in Austin, Texas. He swore on the application that he had no militia experience and belonged to no particular tribe. He was granted approval on the same day as the application and entered the United States two months later. A year after entering, in late 2015, Al-Wazer applied to USCIS for Temporary Protected Status  due to the escalating civil war in Yemen. It, too, was almost summarily granted, as was a renewal in 2018.

From 2016 forward, the FBI was pursuing a terrorism investigation targeting Al-Wazer after he posted Facebook photos showing him as an armed member of the Houthi rebel insurgency. He was charged with lying to the immigration officers who had previously interviewed him. The criminal complaint describes falsehoods on his applications for the non-immigrant visa and for Temporary Protected Status. In March 2021, he waived prosecution by indictment and pleaded guilty to an Information that charged him with lying to federal agents.