Dr. Jabbar Fazeli told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that he informed the FBI in 2014 that his brother Adnan, an Iranian refugee resettled in the United States by the federal government in 2008, had returned to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.
One year later, Adnan Fazeli was killed while fighting for ISIS in a battle in Lebanon.
“When Jabbar Fazeli contacted his younger brother in the late summer of 2014, he realized the man he’d grown up with in southwest Iran was gone,” the Daily News reported:
Adnan Fazeli had disappeared physically many months prior, after Muslim extremists convinced him to leave his new home in Maine to travel to Syria and, as Jabbar would later learn, to fight for the Islamic State. But as Jabbar pleaded with his brother to return and spare the man’s three children the pain of being associated with the terrorist group, Jabbar grasped that he wasn’t speaking to the Adnan he knew.
“He was a stranger talking to me,” Jabbar Fazeli recalled. “He was preaching to me while I was talking to him about family.”
It was like speaking to a member of a cult, he said. Adnan told him not to worry about the children because he planned to bring them to Syria.
“I said, ‘Over my dead body,’ basically. He made it clear then he didn’t want to have anything to do with me. At least my conscience is clear that I tried,” Jabbar said.
By that time, his conscience had already led him to the FBI, he said. Jabbar had contacted the authorities several months earlier, concerned by reports from family in Iran that Adnan appeared to be in Syria and associating with “bad guys,” he said.
At that point, “I didn’t know which bad guys,” Jabbar said.
He and his younger brother grew up in the Khuzestan province of Iran, on the border with Iraq, part of the country’s estimated 3 million Arabs. Both Fazelis were raised as Shiite Muslims.
Dr. Fazelli spent some time in Kuwait before going to medical school in Hungary, where he graduated in 1992. He subsequently served a medical internship in Kansas City before coming to Maine.
It is unclear what immigration status he had that allowed him to enter and then remain in the United States.
In his interview with the Daily News, Dr. Fazelli explained his complex relationship with his younger brother:
The U.S. brought Adnan only good fortune, Jabbar said. Chief among those blessings is the life of Adnan’s daughter, he said.
Jabbar, a Portland physician, helped to bring the girl to the U.S. in 2005 for treatment of a life-threatening pancreatic disorder. Doctors in Iran lacked the expertise and resources to handle the rare condition, so he arranged for her treatment at a children’s hospital in Philadelphia.
Adnan and his wife traveled with their daughter, then just 2 months old, for the expensive procedure, which was paid for by Jabbar and donations from the community, he said. The girl recovered and today is a healthy 11-year-old, said Jabbar, a geriatrician who now chairs the board of the Maine Medical Association.
“This country and people in this country saved his child,” he said. “He didn’t have to pay a cent. I was in debt for years for that. She survived and yet his affinity turned out to be somewhere else.”
The family returned to Iran after her hospital stay, but Adnan would flee three years later, fearing arrest as a dissident, he said. With Jabbar’s help, he spent another year making his way through Syria and Lebanon, finally arriving back in Philadelphia in 2008 with his family, seeking settlement as political refugees.
Dr. Fazeli did not explain exactly how he helped his brother and his family arrive in Philadelphia in 2008 as a political refugee.
Nor did he explain how his brother and his family became eligible to participate in the federal refugee resettlement program, or what type of security and medical vetting they underwent before receiving approval to participate in the program.
He also did not explain why his brother and his family were resettled in the Philadelphia area, rather than Maine where he lives, which would have been the standard protocol used by the refugee resettlement agency handling the case of his brother and family.
Indeed, no resettlement agency has yet confirmed that Adnan Fazeli and his family came to the United States under the federal refugee resettlement program.
In FY 2008, the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2008, seven refugees from Iran arrived in Maine and 8 arrived in Pennsylvania, according to the 2008 Annual Report to Congress submitted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In FY 2009, the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2008, ten refugees from Iran arrived in Maine and 9 arrived in Pennsylvania, according to the 2009 Annual Report to Congress submitted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
If Adnan Fazeli, his wife and three children did, in fact, enter the United States through the federal refugee resettlement program and were resettled initially in Pennsylvania some time in calendar year 2008, the five of them would have comprised the majority of the Iranian refugees resettled in that state during the fiscal year in which they were resettled.
That seems an odd choice for a resettlement agency to make when Fazeli’s older brother lived in Maine.
Breitbart News contacted Dr. Fazeli’s office at Maine Geriatrics and asked him through his answering service to explain the specific details of his brother’s arrival in the United States, but did not receive a response back from him.
Breitbart also asked Dr. Fazeli if his brother was radicalized in Iran, Syria, or Lebanon prior to his arrival in the United States in 2008.
Dr. Fazeli told the Daily News that he financially supported his brother and his family for the first six months of their arrival in the United States.
According to the Daily News, “Adnan moved to Maine several months later, in 2009, first to Westbrook and later to Freeport, despite promising Jabbar that he would stay away from the state. By that point, the brothers were estranged and Jabbar thought it best that they maintain some distance, he said.”
Dr. Fazeli explained their upbringing:
Adnan and Jabbar grew up in the Iranian province of Khuzestan, on the Iraq border, as members of the country’s Arab minority community. The boys and their two sisters were raised as Shiite Muslims, though the family wasn’t particularly devout, Jabbar said.
Their parents prayed and fasted, but never forced their children to, he said.
“We grew up in the same house,” said Jabbar, who is not religious. “There was no emphasis on religion. There was more emphasis on right and wrong, work hard, don’t steal, don’t lie.”
In the interview with the Daily News Dr. Fazeli also explained why he informed the FBI about his brother:
Jabbar said he spent a day thinking through whether his brother posed an immediate threat before calling the FBI in April 2014. As a physician, he weighed the benefits and risks, he said.
He considered that other individuals in the Portland area could also get recruited. He worried that violence could come to his community. He feared another savage act being perpetrated in his people’s name. Perhaps most of all, he couldn’t bear the prospect of Adnan’s children moving to Syria and being sold into slavery or married off at 14 in the event of their father’s death.
Though the decision was difficult, he didn’t hesitate, he said.
“It was a no brainer, but it was painful. It’s like you’re deciding to amputate a foot, but there’s no other way,” he said. . .
He said he’s comforted by the fact that the FBI’s investigation ended with no criminal charges and no indication that other extremists are active or recruiting in Maine. He hopes his own research over the last three years, including tracking transfers of money from Syria to Portland, has spooked any other potential radicals in the state.
In 2007, Dr. Fazeli wrote a book entitled “Decoding Iraq,” which, according to its description on Amazon “provides a unique summary and analysis of the war and events in Iraq by combining western sentiments and views with a description of Middle Eastern politics and the triggers affecting events there.This book presents local Iraqi events in a way that Americans can relate to them.”
Late Wednesday, the Boston Herald reported that Maine Gov. Paul LePage “is launching of all ‘refugee-related’ programs in his state to see if the taxpayer-funded benefits should be scrapped after officials revealed a slain ISIS fighter [Adnan Fazeli] received welfare while living in the Pine Tree State.”