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Iraqi Refugee Charged With Plan To Bomb Texas Malls

An Iraqi refugee suspected of sympathizing with the Islamic State extremist group wanted to set off bombs at two Texas malls and was learning to make explosive devices, U.S. authorities said on January 13.

Omar Faraj Saeed al-Hardan, who emigrated to Houston from Iraq in 2009, was indicted last week on charges of providing support to a terrorist organization.

He pleaded not guilty.

A Houston court judge ordered Hardan held without bail after hearing testimony that Hardan wanted to set off bombs at the Galleria and another Houston mall and was learning to make electronic transmitters from cell phones that could be used to detonate explosive devices. A collection of cell phones was found in his apartment.

Hardan's arrest prompted criticism of the Obama administration's refugee policies from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has been a leader among Republican governors calling for a halt to resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states.

It also prompted Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to call for a retroactive review of all refugees who have come to the United States.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters