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Refugee, suspected ISIS supporter accused of plotting mall attacks, to change plea

A refugee who prosecutors say is an ISIS sympathizer who wanted to blow up the Galleria and Sharpstown malls before he was arrested in January and charged with terrorism-related charges, is expected to plead guilty Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors have said defendant Omar Al Hardan aligned himself with ISIS.

A court filing lists a rearrangement hearing set for Wednesday at 2 p.m., which indicates Al Hardan is expected to change his not guilty plea.

Al Hardan faces several charges: attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, procurement of a citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and false statement or representation made to an agency of the United States.

Without a plea agreement, Al Hardan faced decades in prison. Details of any plea agreement have not been made public.

Bond was denied earlier this year for Al Hardan.

Prosecutors say Al Hardan lied to investigators on a citizenship application to try to go to Syria to fight for ISIS.

A federal agent in a previous court hearing testified that Al Hardan plotted to blow up the Galleria Mall and the old Sharpstown Mall, now known as PlazAmericas.

Agents also claimed that Al Hardan trained with an AK-47 on a farm outside Houston, learning how to fire, manipulate gun and how to move to cover and hide.

Al Hardan entered the U.S. as a refugee from Iraq in 2009.

If you have a tip about this story or another story, email investigative reporter Jace Larson at jlarson@kprc.com or text him at 832-493-3951.