Syrian man living in Fishers indicted on federal firearms charges

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A Syrian man living in Fishers is facing federal charges for allegedly purchasing and possessing firearms unlawfully, as well as lying on federal forms while attempting to purchase another gun.

Majd Al Helwani, 24, was indicted and charged with four felony counts related to those activities on Wednesday, according to Josh Minkler, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

Minkler says the case stems from a homeland security investigation that began in Dec. 2017, when law enforcement officials say they received information from a concerned citizen that Al Helwani was in possession of at least one firearm, an AR-15 style, .223 caliber rifle.

Agents say they obtained a search warrant for Al Helwani’s residence after they determined he had been admitted into the U.S. as a non-immigrant tourist, and was therefore prohibited from possessing firearms.

When agents arrived at his home to execute the warrant, Minkler says Al Helwani came to the door armed with a loaded 9-millimeter handgun. A Sabal Arms, .223 caliber rifle was also reportedly recovered from the home.

“Aggressively prosecuting individuals who are not lawfully permitted to purchase or possess firearms is a cornerstone of a safe society,” said Minkler. “We are grateful to the collaborative partners who brought this to our attention and encourage all citizens to adhere to the campaign: If you see something, say something.”

During the investigation, agents say they learned Al Helwani had attempted to purchase a shotgun from an Indianapolis area sporting goods store in October of 2016. Officials believe he misrepresented his immigration status during the transaction by indicating he was not a non-immigrant tourist.

“These charges send a message to those who lie in order to obtain firearms,” said Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons, Chicago HSI. “HSI is committed to working with our enforcement partners to combat those who threaten national security.”

Officials say Al Helwani faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.