Two Iraqis alleged to have carried out attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq have been stung in an undercover FBI investigation in Kentucky. They now face federal terrorism charges, including allegations that they provided material support to al-Qaida in Iraq and conspired to transport explosives and Stinger missiles overseas to kill U.S. forces.
Bowling Green, Ky., residents Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, could face life in prison if convicted on the charges outlined in the 23-count indictment unsealed on Tuesday.
“Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq," Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Todd Hinnens said in a Justice Department statement.
"His co-defendant Mohanad Shareef Hammadi is accused of many of the same activities," Hinnens continued. "With these arrests, which are the culmination of extraordinary investigative work by law enforcement and intelligence officials, the support provided by these individuals comes to an end and they will face justice."
Alwan entered the United States in April 2009 and has lived in Bowling Green since his arrival. Hammadi arrived three months later and moved to Bowling Green after first staying in Las Vegas. They'd both sought asylum in the United States and traveled there on refugee visas, according to a Department of Homeland Security official. Their case highlighted certain gaps in the screening process of vetting new arrivals, the official said. It is now broader and includes several checks closer to the time the person is expected to travel to the United States in case there is new information on their case.
The FBI launched an investigation into Alwan in September 2009. Almost a year into the investigation, the FBI began using a "confidential human source" to meet with Alwan, who discussed his activities as an Iraqi insurgent. In these recorded conversations, Alwan allegedly stated that he used improvised explosive devices in Iraq "hundreds of times" and bragged about targeting U.S. troops and armored vehicles, according to the release. The FBI was able to identify Alwan's fingerprints on unexploded IEDs.
The FBI source told Alwan that he "shipped money and weapons to the mujahidin in Iraq by secreting them in vehicles sent from the United States," according to the release. Alwan recruited Hammadi to assist in preparations to provide material support for al-Qaida to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. These activities included picking up machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, Stinger missiles, and money from a storage facility in Kentucky and delivering them to a designated location believing they would be shipped to al-Qaida.
"Neither the Stinger missiles nor any of the other weapons or money delivered by Alwan or Hammadi in connection with the [confidential human source] in the United States were provided to al-Qaida in Iraq, but instead were carefully controlled by law enforcement as part of the undercover operation," the release states.
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