U.S. Government-Accepted Iranian Refugee Joined ISIS Army

A man who was certified by the U.S. government as an official refugee, and who was supported by a taxpayer-funded group to settle in the United States, flew out of the United States in 2013 to join the ISIS Islamic army. 

He was killed in Lebanon in 2015 as part of the ongoing Syrian conflict, leaving his refugee wife and their three children in the United States.

This example of a refugee terrorist highlighted the call on Monday by GOP nominee Donald Trump for “ideological vetting of immigrants seeking admission to the United States.”

Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into our country. . . Only those who we expect to flourish in our country — and to embrace a tolerant American society — should be issued visas.

That vetting apparently did not take place in the case of Adnan Fazeli, 38,  who “initially came to Philadelphia in 2008 [as a refugee from Iran] and then moved to Portland [in 2009],” according to a recent Facebook post by Fazeli’s brother.

The brother is “Dr. Jabbar Fazeli . . .  a physician in Maine [who] currently serves as chairman of the board of the Maine Medical Association,” the Portland (Maine) Press Herald reports.

The jihad Fazeli “came to Maine as a refugee in 2009 [and] became radicalized in his Islamic faith while living here and was fighting for the Islamic State when he was killed last year in Lebanon, according to newly unsealed federal court document,” the Press Herald says:

[M]ost recently of Freeport, [Fazeli]came under investigation by the FBI for his connection to the terrorist group shortly after he left his job at Dubai Auto in Portland to fly to Turkey on Aug. 13, 2013, and never returned.

Fazeli, who also went by the names Abu Nawaf and Abu Abdullah Al-Ahwazi, was killed on Jan. 23, 2015, in a battle near Ras Baalbek in Lebanon as part of an Islamic State attack force of about 150 that was thwarted by the Lebanese army.

Those details, which were never revealed publicly before, were contained in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland last Oct. 27 by Maine State Police Detective George Loder, who was acting as a member of an FBI task force investigating whether other people were aware of Fazeli’s plans to fight for the Islamic State, helped him travel to the Iraq-Syria-Lebanon area or supported his efforts there. The affidavit remained under seal during the investigation, which ended with no criminal charges.

The Press Herald reports that “[t]he affidavit gives the accounts of four anonymous informants for the FBI who described how Fazeli’s behavior began to change about a year after he came to the Portland area through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services.”

According to its website, “Maine’s only refugee resettlement program, Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS) is dedicated to helping those seeking a new life in America become independent, productive members of our community.”

But the person who answered the phone when Breitbart News called Catholic Charities of Maine says that organization “provided no assistance” to Fazeli.

Breitbart News has asked Catholic Charities of Maine spokesperson Judy Katzel for more details, but has not yet received a response.

Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services also operates a separate office out of the Diocese of Harrisonburg, Penn., which is in close proximity to Philadelphia, where Fazeli was initially resettled in 2008.

In an update to the original story, the Press Herald reported “Catholic Charities does not have a resettlement program in [Philadelphia], and an employee at the Catholic Charities office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said they do not keep records longer than seven years, and could not say whether he came through their program.”

Catholic Charities of Maine, however, did provide financial assistance to Fazeli through an employment relationship:

Fazeli did work for Catholic Charities Maine as a part-time translator for several months in 2009. He spoke Persian, Arabic and English, and worked only a few hours a week.

“He performed a good job while he was working for us,” Katzel said, adding that the nonprofit’s staff did not recall any red flags regarding Fazeli’s work.

He left that job after 10 months to take computer engineering classes at the University of Southern Maine.

Fazeli later worked for Dubai Auto, an auto repair and sales business in Portland, also as an interpreter. Attempts to locate the previous owner, Jabbar Essa, were unsuccessful Tuesday. Hassan Najed, the current owner of the business, now named Forest Avenue Motors, said he’s the second person to own the business since Essa and did not know where he had gone after selling the business.

Fazeli “collected welfare while living in Maine as he was being self-radicalized over the internet,” the Boston Herald reports:

Adnan Fazeli, 38, of Freeport, Maine, collected food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, officials said. The married father of three lost his payments in 2013, Maine officials tell the Herald, after he left for Turkey to join the terror group.

A federal affidavit states Fazeli was killed Jan. 23, 2015, in a firefight in Lebanon while fighting for ISIS.

It is unclear why Adnan Fazelli and his family may have obtained financial assistance from Catholic Charities as well as the state of Maine between 2009 and 2013, since his brother, Dr. Jabbar Fazelli, is apparently well-established in the area and doing well financially.

It is also unclear why he first arrived in Philadelphia, and then moved to Maine.

“The operation of the refugee resettlement program in Philadelphia is somewhat unusual,” as Breitbart News reported in July:

Though the Pennsylvania State Department of Health tracks approximately 1,900 of the refugees that arrive annually in the counties of the state outside Philadelphia, an unusual cooperative of several resettlement agencies known as the Philadelphia Refugee Health Cooperative (PRHC) operates as the equivalent of a quasi-independent agency within the City of Brotherly Love and tracks and provides services to the approximately 800 refugees that are resettled in Philadelphia annually. . .

Three resettlement agencies–Nationalities Service Center (NSC), HIAS Pennsylvania, and Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS)—lead this cooperative.

The Press Herald reports that Fazeli became radicalized while living in Maine:

Neighbors of the family in Freeport described Fazeli as quiet, saying his wife was friendlier than he. When the couple arrived in the neighborhood, a neighbor who identified himself only by his first name, Mike, said Fazeli’s wife wore traditional Muslim dress, but by the time her husband had disappeared and she moved away, she no longer wore a headscarf and seemed more “Americanized.”

“He had a bad situation. He was fighting with his wife and he lived at the garage for about a week,” Manahe said.

During that time, Manahe told Fazeli he was welcome to use the store’s bathroom and kitchen.

“He was living there and he just disappeared,” Manahe said. “Some people say he went back to Iraq.”

Breitbart News contacted the Philadelphia Refugee Health Cooperative for details surrounding Fazeli’s arrival in Philadelphia in 2008 but has not received a response.

The Press Herald adds these details:

The affidavit gives the accounts of four anonymous informants for the FBI who described how Fazeli’s behavior began to change about a year after he came to the Portland area through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services. They told the FBI that Fazeli frequently watched hours of Islamic videos online, grew a beard and began making anti-American remarks while at an Iraqi market in Portland.

While the informants are not named in the affidavit, Fazeli’s nephew, Ebrahim Fazeli, told the Portland Press Herald on Monday that he informed the FBI about his uncle after Adnan Fazeli called the family from Turkey. The affidavit describes one of the informants as a close relative of Fazeli’s.

“Fazeli’s change in behavior alienated him from many of his Shia and moderate Sunni friends in the area. However, there were a few local Sunnis who supported his fervor and treated him with a great deal of respect. Fazeli started holding occasional religious meetings at his home in Freeport,” Loder said in the affidavit, describing what one informant had said.

Ebrahim Fazeli, 25, said the family was unaware of his uncle’s plans to leave the United States. His uncle had become more religious and grew a substantial beard, but the nephew said no one realized he had become radicalized.

… One of the informants told the FBI that Fazeli fled Iran in 2007 or 2008 after being notified that he was going to be arrested by the Iranian government as a dissident.

“Fazeli decided not to turn himself in and instead he left his family and fled for Syria. Fazeli’s family later joined him and they fled Syria for Lebanon because they feared the Syrian government would deport them back to Iran,” the affidavit says.

Fazeli initially came to the United States as a refugee in 2009, but did not adapt well. He told one informant that he hated Iran because the government was anti-Sunni and felt the United States had done nothing to help. Although Fazeli was raised a Shia Muslim, his family was not devout, one of the informants said. His behavior began to change while in the U.S., and he converted to Wahhabism, an austere form of Sunni Islam.

Catholic Charities in Portland said Fazeli tried to receive social services from the organization but was told that because he had come to Maine from another U.S. city after he’d immigrated to the U.S., he was not eligible for services in Portland.

… While Fazeli was abroad, he continued to communicate by Skype chats with at least one of the informants, who later shared videos of the chats with FBI investigators. In one video, Fazeli said that he and his Islamic State allies could kill 1,000 enemies for every 10 of their own killed. In another video, he wore a khaki camouflage military uniform and inquired whether any U.S. government authorities had begun asking questions about him. . .

Fazeli’s relative called the FBI on Jan. 26, 2015, to report that Fazeli had been killed, according to the affidavit.

First Assistant Attorney Richard Murphy did not explain why there was no follow up regarding the former owner of Dubai Auto of Portland, whose bank account was used to finance Fazeli’s foreign travels.


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