HOUSTON – A Richmond man is accused of making a bomb threat against the Univerisity of Houston during a Zoom lecture, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick’s Office.
Ibraheem Ahmed Al Bayati, 19, faces the federal charges of making threats or conveying false information to destroy by means of fire or explosives and making a threat over interstate commerce. Al Bayati was taken into custody on Friday after the criminal complaint was filed.
According to a press release, Al Bayati identified himself as Abu Qital al Jihadi al Mansur and joined a UH student lecture on Zoom on Sept. 2.
Officials said he interrupted the lecture by saying, “what does any of this have to do with the fact that UH is about to get bombed in a few days?” Officials said he then said “Islamic State will remain" in Arabic and held up his index finger and repeated the phrase “Dawlatul Islam Baqia.”
According to court documents, Al Bayati’s gesture of holding up his index finger, which is often known as the “tawheed finger,” is sometimes an indicator of radical Islamic ideology. In the release, officials said Al Bayati’s reference about the “Islamic State” is a reference associated with the terrorist group ISIS.
Al Bayati left the Zoom call after students gasped, officials said.
Al Bayati is also accused of seeking out ISIS supporters online and helping an individual make a “pledge,” officials wrote in the release. Al Bayati also claimed to be known as an ISIS recruiter.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison in addition to a maximum of five years for making a threat over interstate commerce. Al Bayati remains in custody Tuesday evening and is expected to appear in court Thursday at 10 a.m.
KPRC 2 reached out to the university for a comment on the incident. In response, officials issued the following statement:
“Ibraheem Ahmed Al Bayati is not a student at UH and has never been admitted or enrolled at the University of Houston. As in most instances of ‘Zoom-bombing,’ meeting login information was compromised — a student shared the online class link with Al Bayati.”