U.S. officials: Ex-ISIS fighter entered US as a refugee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An Iraqi man accused of the killing of the Islamic State introduced in the US. as a refugee after the claim of a victim of terrorism, in the event the attention in the midst of the Trump government to the criticism of the resettlement of the program is controlled process.

Omar Abdulsattar Ameen, 45, was arrested in California on Wednesday and will be extradited to Iraq under a treaty with that country, U.S. officials said. He made his first appearance in federal court in Sacramento after his arrest at an apartment building in the state capitol.

Ameen left Iraq and fled in 2012 to Turkey, where he applied to be admitted as a refugee to the U.S., according to the court documents.

He received that status in June 2014. That same month, prosecutors say that he returned to Iraq, where he killed a police officer in the city of Rawah, after it fell to the Islamic State. Five months later, Ameen travelled to the United States to be moved as a refugee.

Ameen was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, on the basis of a warrant issued in May by an Iraqi federal court in Baghdad. Ameen could face execution for the “organized killing by an armed group,” according to Iraqi documents filed in U.S. federal court.

Benjamin Galloway, one of Ameen public defense, said he only had 10 minutes to meet with his client prior to his first federal court appearance Wednesday, and lawyers have not yet decided whether the competition that Ameen is the man wanted by the Iraqi authorities.

Ameen has no information about its membership in two terrorist groups, as he later apply for a green card in the United States, the officials said.

The Trumpet administration has sharply criticized the Obama-era resettlement program, questioning whether enough is done to weed out those with terrorist ties.

The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security officials not directly respond to questions about Ameen.

Seamus Hughes, of the George Washington University Program on Extremism, said that most of the ISIS cases in the United States have involved U.S.-born citizens and that the case should be considered a rare, but illustrates gaps in the system.

“There was clearly a number of tripwires that went down in this review process,” he said. “No doubt the security officials want to take a long hard look at the improving of the screening program in the future.”

According to resettlement agencies in the United States, the U.S. review process has long been one of the toughest in the world. Most people spend at least three years to be interviewed, undergo biometric checks and medical examinations, and completing paperwork before they are approved for refugee status. Cases are screened by the Ministry of Defence, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies.

Some refugees, such as those of Syria, undergo additional screenings.

The Trumpet administration increased security screening requirements and drastically reduced the annual ceiling of the refugees in the US. from 110,000 to 45,000 euros.

The officials of the State Department say that new research protocols “to enable departments and agencies to more thoroughly assess candidates to identify threats to public safety and national security.”

Ameen was discovered by a witness of the murder who viewed a series of photos of ISIS members, according to Iraqi documents.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating Ameen about the submission of fraudulent travel or immigration documents, because 2016, according to a court filing. It says that the FBI independently confirmed Ameen’s involvement with the terrorist organizations, and participation in the killing.

Ameen was dressed in ordinary clothes, including a light blue T-shirt, as he appeared in court with handcuffs on a chain around his waist.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan accepted the ministry’s argument that Ameen is dangerous and a flight risk and ordered him detained until his next appearance set for Monday.

Prosecutors said in court filings that the release of a person suspected of membership of a designated foreign terrorist organization would be the national security is in danger.

The Iraqi arrest warrant and extradition request to say Ameen entered his hometown of Rawah in Anbar province of Iraq in a four-vehicle ISIS caravan and drove to the house of Ihsan Abdulhafiz Jasim, who had served with the Rawah Police Department.

He and at least five other named suspects opened fire and the man shot back, but the documents show that Ameen fatally shot the man in the chest as he lay on the ground.

Militants later claimed responsibility for the murder on social media.

The FBI has interviewed at least eight witnesses who identify with the Ameen family — including Ameen himself, his father, brothers, and cousins of the father — as connected with al-Qaeda and ISIS, the prosecutor said.

Court documents say Ameen’s family, also helped al-Qaeda in Rawah and that Ameen was a member of al-Qaida in Iraq and ISIS. The documents say he helped plant improvised explosive devices, transported militants, requested funds, robbed delivery trucks and kidnapped the drivers, on behalf of al-Qaeda.

The FBI cites a witness says: Ameen vehicle in 2005 was a Kia Sportage flying a black al-Qaeda flag with a cut-out roof and a machine gun mounted on the rear.


Associated Press reporters Sophia Bollag in Sacramento contributed to this story. Watson reported from San Diego.

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