Man who sought “sniper rifle” pleads guilty to falsely claiming citizenship

By Justin Wier


Abdul Maola Alabadi wants to return to his home country of Jordan, and U.S. attorneys want to send him there, but the process may take more than three months.

“His mother is ill in Jordan,” Atty. Dave Betras told Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert in U.S. District Court. “He’s begging me to get back to Jordan. [The government wants] him to go to Jordan, and he can’t get back to Jordan.”

Alabadi, who aroused suspicions by asking at a Boardman sporting goods store earlier this year for a “sniper rifle for training,” pleaded guilty Wednesday to making a false claim of citizenship.

He misidentified himself as a U.S. citizen on a form he filled out during a previous firearm purchase, U.S. attorneys said.

Alabadi possesses a green card, but is not a citizen. Noncitizens can purchase firearms, but they are required to list a U.S.-issued identification number.

Wednesday’s proceedings lasted more than an hour as an interpreter and Betras attempted to explain the process to Alabadi.

At one point, he claimed he mistakenly filled out the form because of the language.

He quickly added that he understood he needed to plead guilty to return to Jordan, so he would do that.

The plea agreement includes Alabadi’s request to return to Jordan. He will be unable to return to the U.S. without the permission of the Department of Homeland Security.

The agreement also prohibits the government from bringing other outstanding charges against Alabadi. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Toepfer said he wasn’t able to disclose those charges.

Federal officials, however, confiscated Alabadi’s passport, and he cannot return to Jordan until a presentence investigation is completed. His sentencing is scheduled for March 7 in Cleveland before Judge Solomon Oliver.

Betras asked the magistrate judge whether Alabadi could fly home to Jordan to visit his mother, adding that his client would “come back to be told to go to Jordan and never come back.”

Magistrate Judge Limbert suggested it may be possible to move the sentencing up when the investigation is complete.

In September, a manager at Fin Feather Fur Outfitters in Boardman reported Alabadi to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when he requested a “sniper rifle for training.” The manager said it was uncommon for people to refer to firearms as “sniper rifles,” according to an affidavit.

The affidavit also accused Alabadi of lying on immigration forms.

In his 2015 application for an immigrant visa, Alabadi said he had never been refused admission to the U.S. Records from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, however, show the State Department refused Alabadi 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.

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