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Iraqi Refugee, Alleged Islamic State Murderer, Arrested in California

In addition to the murder charge, Mr. Ameen is said to have lied on his refugee application to the United States, painting himself as a victim of violence. CreditU.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested an Iraqi refugee in Sacramento, California on Wednesday on the authority of an arrest warrant for the 2014 murder of an Iraqi police officer issued by an Iraqi judge on May 16.

“Omar Ameen, 45, an Iraqi national, wanted on a murder charge in Iraq, appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Sacramento, California today in connection with proceedings to extradite him to face trial in Iraq. Ameen settled in Sacramento as a purported refugee and attempted to gain legal status in the United States,” the Department of Justice said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Court documents alleged that Ameen, who entered the United States from Turkey in November 2014 through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, led a four truck ISIS caravan to Rahwah, Iraq where he murdered the police officer on June 22, 2014.

“The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott for the Eastern District of California, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office,” the DOJ said in the statement:

An arrest warrant charging Ameen with the 2014 murder of an Iraqi police officer was issued on May 16, by a judge of the Baghdad Federal Al-Karkh Inquiry Court. In accordance with its treaty obligations with Iraq, the United States filed a complaint in Sacramento seeking a warrant for Ameen’s arrest based on the extradition request. U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan issued the warrant on Tuesday, and Ameen was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Sacramento today.

The Iraqi arrest warrant and extradition request allege that after the town of Rawah, Iraq fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on June 21, 2014, Ameen entered the town with a caravan of ISIS vehicles and drove to the house of the victim, who had served as an officer in the Rawah Police Department. On the evening of June 22, 2014, after the caravan arrived at the victim’s house, Ameen and other members of the convoy allegedly opened fire on the victim. Ameen then allegedly fired his weapon at the victim while the victim was on the ground, killing him.

The arrest comes one month before President Trump announces his presidential determination of the cap on the number of refugees to be admitted into the country in FY 2019, and underscores the validity of one of the major themes of his successful 2016 Presidential campaign: unvetted refugees who pose a security risk from hotbeds of terrorism were being granted entry into the United State by the Obama administration.

Court documents presented on Wednesday outline what appears to be a highly sophisticated ruse by Ameen, who along with many members of his family has been a member of ISIS and its predecessor Islamist terrorist organizations since at least 2004, to gain approval into the U.S. Refugee Admissions program by making a number of false statements, and then use his approved U.S. refugee status as a getaway mechanism after carrying out the 2014 murder of the Iraqi police officer.

The Memorandum of Extradition Law and Request for Detention Pending Extradition Proceedings filed with the Court on Wednesday by U.S. Attorney McGregor details these specific facts:

  • Evidence from both the Iraq National Security Service, provided in the extradition request, as well as the FBI, obtained through its own investigation, indicates since at least 2004, Ameen has been a member of first AQI, then ISIS in Iraq.
  • The FBI has interviewed at least eight witnesses who identify the Ameen family—including Ameen himself, his father, brothers, and paternal cousins—as affiliated with AQI and ISIS. According to witnesses, it is common knowledge in Rawah, Iraq, that Ameen was a main local figure of AQI and ISIS. The Ameen family is alleged to be one of five native Rawah families that founded AQI in the region.
  • In or about April 2012, Ameen arrived in Turkey and began the process of applying for refugee status.
  • Ameen claimed on his Resettlement Registration Form before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) that in 2010, his father, Abdulsattar Ameen Hussein, was killed due to his cooperation with the American military. . . In actuality, the death certificate for Abdulsattar Ameen (which Ameen did not submit with any of his applications) indicates he died from natural causes—a cerebral clot—on December 25, 2010.
  • Ameen claimed on his refugee application that on March 4, 2012, when he was living in Baghdad with one of his brothers, their home was raided by masked, black-clad men, and the brother was taken away and not heard from again. Ameen claimed the he was able to escape, and attributed the raid and kidnapping to the “Mahdi Army,” a reference to Jaish Al Mahdi (“JAM”). According to Ameen, he feared persecution based on the kidnapping of his brother if he were to remain in Iraq. Ameen repeated the claim of feared persecution based on this brother’s disappearance on his adjustment of status application.
  • In actuality, an arrest warrant was issued from the Higher Judicial Court of Investigation in AlKarkh, on December 26, 2010, for the arrest of that brother, Ameen, and two of his other brothers,charging them with terrorism, in violation of Article 4/1 of the Counterterrorism Law of Iraq.

Remarkably, despite the many false claims made by Ameen, and the existence of a warrent for his arrest in Iraq, “Based on the written and verbal answers given by Ameen, his refugee application was approved by USCIS on June 5, 2014,” the memorandum states:

But, it continues “Ameen did not immigrate directly to the United States following the approval of his application, but instead is alleged to have returned to Iraq to commit the murder that is the subject of this extradition request.

The memorandum provides these details of Ameen’s trip back to Iraq to commit the murder of the Iraqi police officer, and his getaway to the United States via Turkey through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program:

  • Ameen’s passport does not reflect any departures from Turkey after his entry on April 1, 2012. Nevertheless, Ameen stated during his May 2014 refugee interview with USCIS in Turkey that he had returned many times to Iraq.
  • Ameen’s resume, prepared in 2018, is consistent with a return to Iraq by on or about June 22, 2014 (the day of the fall of Rawah to ISIS). Ameen lists employment in Turkey through May of 2014,then shows a gap in employment until Ameen’s immigration to the United States.
  • Multiple witness interviewed by the FBI reported seeing Ameen in Rawah in or about the time of the fall of Rawah to ISIS.
  • In another account of the murder given to the FBI by a witness referenced in the extradition request, a witness gave a description of the ISIS vehicle11 convoy. S/he recalled an AMRAP, a 2-cab Hilux, and a Humvee, each carrying multiple males. The witness recalls each member of the convoy brandishing some type of ISIS paraphernalia, including flags and vests. The witness saw Omar Ameen in the convoy,and described him as having shoulder-length hair, a beard, wearing Afghan garb, and carrying an AK-47. The witness identified Ameen from this photo, one of a series of photos of individuals shown to him/her on a smart phone.
  • Ameen returned to Turkey on an unknown date and traveled on to the United States, arriving on November 4, 2014. After eventually settling in Sacramento, California, Ameen filed an I-485, Application to Adjust Status.
  • In an interview on May 26, 2016, under oath in support of that application, Ameen affirmed all the answers given in support of his refugee application. Ameen stated that he had not given false testimony to enter the United States, and also that he had not given false testimony to his refugee application.
  • On his written I-485 application to adjust status, and also in the interview, when asked “Have you EVER ordered, or called for, or assisted with the killing of any person?” Ameen answered “no.” When asked “Have you ever committed the killing of any person?” Ameen answered “no.” In actuality, on or about June 22, 2014, Ameen is alleged to have killed Ihsan in collaboration with other members of ISIS.

The stunning allegations against this unvetted Iraqi refugee who arrived in the United States during the second term of the Obama administration is in pointed contrast to the Trump administration’s handling of refugee vetting.

President Trump has delivered on his campaign promise to end the arrival of refugees from countries that are hotbeds of terrorism.

In FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, 84,995 refugees were admitted to the United States, more than 36,000 of which came from seven countries which had been designated by the Department of State as hotbeds of terrorism: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

As of July 31 of this year, more than 10 months into FY 2018, the first full fiscal year of the Trump administration, 18,214 refugees have been admitted to the United States, less than 1,000 arriving from those seven hotbed of terrorism countries.

In September 2017, President Trump announced a refugee cap of 45,000 for FY 2018. Less than half that number will arrive this year.

Numerous press reports indicate that the president is expected to announce an even lower refugee cap for FY 2019–which could be anywhere from no refugees at all to 25,000.

 

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