Thanks to an informant’s tip, the body of an Iraqi refugee who was murdered in South Carolina eight years ago has been recovered. Police have made arrests and are now trying to piece together his life.
The man whose skeleton was recovered recently from a car in a McClellanville creek had arrived in the United States as a refugee from Iraq in the early 1990s.
Investigators think that once here, Ala Hassan Sarhan became involved in a world of cocaine dealing that led to his demise eight years ago.
Though the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has made arrests in the case, much of the homicide victim’s past remains a mystery. Authorities have not been able to track down Sarhan’s relatives. Questions also linger about how he arrived in America after the first Gulf War and why he later moved to the Lowcountry.
Read about how he ran afoul of those he was selling drugs to here. Police know that Sarhan had a prior arrest for assault and lived in a campground, but they want to know who brought him to the US and federal immigration officials are not saying.
In 1999, North Charleston police arrested Sarhan on a charge of assault and battery with intent to kill that stemmed from a fight at the same bar where he supposedly met Herrmann and Cumbee.
The local police want answers from the Feds and aren’t getting any. No volag is stepping up to tell them the man’s background and how he was resettled and by which agency.
“He came to this country as a political refugee,” Watson, one of the sheriff’s investigators on the case, said. “As for the reasons why he came here, we don’t have that information at all. Based on what we gathered, he had some dealings with the Iraqi military … He was injured by a land mine. He does have family in Iraq.”
The U.S. Department of State could not answer questions about Sarhan’s visa because the agency does not release information on individual visas, said spokesman Karl Duckworth.
A representative from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to a request about Sarhan’s past.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N.’s refugee agency, tallied 3,440 Iraqis who resettled in the U.S. in 1992, the year Sarhan arrived.
Sheriff’s investigators still want to know which agency sponsored him to come here as a refugee, what activities made him run afoul of Iraq’s now-defunct Baathist regime and where they can find his surviving relatives.
After a little research I found that there are two women who could tell Sheriff’s investigators how he came to be in the US and where his relatives might be because both were involved with the Iraqi refugees who came after the First Gulf War (and are still bringing Iraqis to the US). Terry Rusch, the head of admissions today for the US State Department’s Office of Population, Refugees and Migration knows, or knows where to find the information and so does Lavinia Limon head of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
You know what is worse than an Iraqi refugee gone bad, or federal officials not helping local law enforcement, it’s the fact that this guy was missing for 8 years and no one seemed to know or care. It continues to surprise our readers to learn that refugees are brought to the US and can literally disappear often within weeks of arrival. Someday one of those will be a terrorist.