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Feds target man who asked for 'sniper rifle'

By JUSTIN WIER • Sep 29, 2017 at 5:00 PM

YOUNGSTOWN (TNS) — A man who asked to purchase a "sniper rifle" from a Boardman sporting-goods store appeared Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Abdul Maola Al-Abadi caught the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when he told a salesperson at Fin Feather Fur Outfitters at 1138 Boardman-Poland Road he wanted to purchase a “sniper rifle for training,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

A manager, who said it is uncommon for people to refer to firearms as “sniper rifles,” contacted the ATF.

The manager told an ATF agent that Al-Abadi previously purchased a 9 mm handgun and several knives at the store. When attempting to buy the rifle Sept. 2, he had been in the store for two to three hours and had another person attempt to buy it for him, the affidavit said.

A worker at Fin Feather Fur, who declined to provide his name, said it’s not uncommon for the store to report suspicious customers to the ATF.

A criminal complaint claims Al-Abadi made a false statement when he checked a box indicating he was a U.S. citizen while purchasing the 9 mm handgun. If convicted, he could face a prison term of up to five years.

It is legal for noncitizens to purchase firearms, but they are required to list a U.S.-issued identification number. Al-Abadi wrote “N/A” in the appropriate box, the affidavit said.

Al-Abadi, who was born in Jordan, is a lawful permanent resident but not a U.S. citizen.

Atty. David Betras, who represents Al-Abadi, said his client did not intentionally break the law.

“He barely speaks a lick of English,” said Betras, who requires an interpreter to speak with Al-Abadi.

“So, when they were going over the form with him, he didn’t understand what they were asking him.”

The fact that Al-Abadi is Middle Eastern has impacted his case, Betras added.

In his 2015 application for an immigrant visa, Al-Abadi said he had never been refused admission to the U.S.

However, records from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security show the State Department refused Al-Abadi visas once in 2007 and twice in 2012, according to the affidavit.

He also admitted traveling to Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco in the first 2012 visa application, but not the second.

Betras also attributed these discrepancies to Al-Abadi's limited understanding of English.

Magistrate George J. Limbert released Al-Abadi on a $20,000 bond while a grand jury considers his case.

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(c)2017 Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio)

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