SAN DIEGO — A San Diego man admitted Thursday that he deliberately made false statements to FBI and State Department officials during a terrorism- related interview at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, 24, pleaded guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism.
According to his plea agreement, Saeed acknowledged that he lied when he said he did not know any members of Islamic State in Iraq, a designated foreign terrorist organization known as ISIL; that he falsely claimed that while in Syria, he was never involved with Al Nusrah, also a foreign terrorist organization; and that he again lied when he said that while in Syria, he had never engaged in combat or fired a weapon at anyone.
Saeed admitted that he knew a member of ISIL and that while in Syria, he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah fighters.
Government prosecutors and the defense are jointly recommending a sentence of eight years in prison for Saeed.
“Lying to federal agents — particularly in a terrorism probe — is a crime that has the potential to influence an investigation or even jeopardize national security,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “This is especially true when, as here, the defendant lied about what he was doing and who he was associating with in a combat zone in Syria.”
Saeed was born in Syria and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in September 2008. In December 2012, he traveled from San Diego to Istanbul and was in Syria and Turkey until his return to the United States.
In March of this year, Saeed returned to the United States and was interviewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and the FBI. He was arrested by federal agents in Rancho Bernardo on April 22.