Update August 23: Former refugee pleads guilty, saves Obama Administration further bad publicity about refugee resettlement.
“I was a little bit worried these guys could get into our country so easily”
(Pennsylvania National Guardsman who will be at the trial.)
This is an incredible story from the Associated Press about how a Pennsylvania National Guardsman learned about two Iraqi refugees arrested in Kentucky, here, in June of last year and studied court documents and has concluded that those two arrested for allegedly planning to send aid to Al Qaeda in Iraq may have helped kill his fellow soldiers.
Here is AP (emphasis mine):
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An Iraqi refugee accused of plotting to help terrorists back home may himself have been an insurgent during the war. When he goes on trial this month, watching from the gallery will be several U.S. soldiers who suspect his roadside bombs killed their comrades in Iraq in 2005.
Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 24, is scheduled for trial Aug. 28, but not in connection with the battlefield deaths of six Pennsylvania National Guardsmen seven years ago. Instead, Hammadi and another Iraqi refugee living in Kentucky, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, were charged with trying to send weapons and cash back to al-Qaida in Iraq after they came to the U.S. Alwan has pleaded guilty.
Several current and former soldiers from the same National Guard unit believe Hammadi and Alwan could have had a hand in two roadside bombings that killed six of their buddies in August 2005, when their unit was stationed near the city of Bayji in the volatile Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad. Those six were among 85 U.S. military deaths in Iraq that month.
Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show Hammadi and Alwan were insurgents in the same area around Bayji at the time the Pennsylvanians’ Task Force Dragoon was stationed there and hit.
“It’s going to be extremely hard to hold my temper, extremely hard to keep cool,” said former Sgt. Brandon Miller, one of several former members of the task force who say they plan to attend the trial.
One of the guys we gave refuge to told an informant: “lunch and dinner would be an American.”
Multiple sources place Task Force Dragoon in the same violent area where Alwan and Hammadi told an FBI informant they worked two years into the American-led war. Those sources include motions filed in court, criminal complaints and indictments of Alwan and Hammadi, search warrants for the two men’s shared apartment and computers, media accounts of the task force’s deployment and interviews with soldiers.
Court documents say Alwan and Hammadi worked as insurgents in Bayji, about 130 miles north of Baghdad. It was an area where former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had a base of support, starting shortly after the invasion in 2003.
Alwan told a confidential informant working for the FBI that as part of his work he filled roadside bombs with ball bearings, nails, even gravel, and drew diagrams to show how it is done. He also bragged about repeatedly killing Americans in Iraq, saying he was very good with a sniper rifle and that his “lunch and dinner would be an American.”
Alwan told an FBI informant in Bowling Green last year that prior to one Humvee explosion, he had planted improvised explosive devices near a Bayji street detour.
Both the Iraqis and the soldiers described the area as the main road used by American convoys in Bayji.
The Pennsylvania National Guard’s Alpha Company of the First Battalion of the 111th Infantry, which included Hedetniemi, lost six soldiers in two separate roadside attacks in the area in August 2005.
Court records don’t explain how we let these two in! But, how many more got through the supposed refugee security screening? That is the question!
Alwan and Hammadi each immigrated to the United States in 2009 after gaining refugee status. Court records do not explain why they were granted that status.
Please read the entire AP story in Mercury News, you likely won’t see it in your hometown paper.
New readers, I’ve written many posts on this case. Here we learned that Alwan and Hammadi lied (what else!). Here we were heartened that Senator Rand Paul wanted answers. Here we were assured (ha!) that all Iraqi refugees in the US were being re-screened. And, here, the whole refugee security screening process has slowed refugee resettlement causing federal resettlement contractors to squawk.