Texas man charged with threatening attack after online college class ‘Zoom bombed’


The Justice Department has filed charges against a Texas man who allegedly threatened to bomb the University of Houston and praised the Islamic State (IS) during an online class.

Ibraheem Ahmed Al Bayati, 19, is accused of saying during the Zoom call last week, “What does any of this have to do with the fact that UH is about to get bombed in a few days?” before using an Arabic pro-IS slogan, according to the indictment.

Bayati admitted to the incident on Friday after FBI agents tracked him to a family member’s house using his IP address, according to AFP. Bayati said the comment was meant as a joke, showing them texts from a friend advising him to “say some Arabic shit and leave lmaooooo.”

However, investigators said they also found messaged with another friend in which Bayati discussed recruiting Islamic State sympathizers. He also told the friend “he was ‘literally known’ as an ISIS recruiter,” according to the indictment.

Bayati has been charged on two counts in connection to making a bomb threat. He is due to appear in federal court in Houston Tuesday afternoon, AFP reported.

So-called Zoom bombings have occurred on several occasions since the conferencing service skyrocketed in use during the coronavirus pandemic. In one such case, an online news briefing on redistricting featuring former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was bombarded with swastikas and racial slurs in June.

The company announced in June that it would offer a beta version of end-to-end encryption for both free and paid users starting in July.

“This will enable us to offer E2EE [end-to-end encryption] as an advanced add-on feature for all of our users around the globe — free and paid — while maintaining the ability to prevent and fight abuse on our platform,” CEO Eric Yuan said in June.

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