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New Yorker sentenced for possessing automatic rifle in basilica school zone

BEAUMONT, Texas – A Brooklyn, NY man has been sentenced to federal prison for a firearms violation in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs today.

Ahmed Abdalla Allam, 26, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in a school zone and was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison, the statutory maximum, by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone on Jan. 30, 2024.

According to information presented in court, Allam, who is from New York, purchased an AR-15 style rifle in Pennsylvania, two days after a counterterrorism operation resulted in the death of Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Allam then undertook a trek throughout the United States that ended in Beaumont, Texas, where he parked his car next to a Christian elementary school.

On January 29, local police searched Allam’s vehicle following a traffic stop and found him in possession of the AR-15, a 30-round magazine, and 150 rounds of ammunition. Chillingly, Allam penned writings that indicated he was planning to murder children and their parents in retaliation for the counter-terrorism work of the United States. The day he was arrested, Allam, told a parent that he was on a “mission” and that “no one would ever see him again.”

“The citizens of Beaumont and the Saint Anthony’s community should be proud that their collective vigilance in reporting Mr. Allam’s suspicious activities—parking his SUV outside of a Catholic school for hours at a time over the course of several days, while armed with an AR-15 rifle and multiple rounds of ammunition—prevented what would have been a mass shooting,” said U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs.  “The work of the Beaumont Police Department and our federal law enforcement partners should be commended, as they worked together to prevent what was sure to be a sad day in Beaumont and the nation.”

“Vigilant Beaumont citizens took the phrase ‘See Something, Say Something,’ to heart, potentially saving numerous lives and uncovering Mr. Allam’s sinister motivations,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge Douglas Williams. “Days after a U.S. military operation killed a top al-Qaeda leader, Ahmed Allam drove to Beaumont, parked his car near a Catholic school, and observed children and their parents while possessing a rifle and hundreds of bullets. The quick reporting of Allam’s suspicious activities to law enforcement by community members allowed FBI Beaumont counterterrorism agents, Beaumont police officers, and ATF investigators to swiftly respond and disrupt what could have been a devastating retaliatory attack.”

“This incident serves as a prime example of the success of the ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign,” said Acting ATF SAC Francisco Ortega.  “ATF was able to work hand in hand with our law enforcement partners to prevent a potential violent crime. It is through the community’s collective efforts that we can maintain a safe and secure environment for everyone. We encourage all members of our community to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to law enforcement.”

“The Beaumont Police Department is committed to the safety of all of our citizens, especially our children,” said Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary.  “This case is a perfect example of the importance of the ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign.  It takes all of us working together to be vigilant and report suspicious activity.  Protecting our children is a mission everyone should stand behind. BPD will continue to work with our Federal Law Enforcement partners to ensure swift justice for anyone who jeopardizes the safety of the most vulnerable in our community.  I would like to commend the leadership of Saint Anthony for their diligence and steadfastness in protecting their students.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

This case was investigated by the Beaumont Police Department, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, FBI, Port Arthur Fire Department, and Montgomery County Fire Marshall.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John B. Ross and Joseph R. Batte.

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Davilyn Walston

Public Affairs Officer

Eastern District of Texas

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