Iraqi refugees in Kentucky charged with planning to help arm Al Qaeda

Two Iraqi refugees who came to the US in 2009 have been charged with plotting to send Stinger missiles to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. Marshals Service via The Courier-Journa/AP
These undated photos provided by the U.S. Marshals Service, show Iraqis living as refugees in Bowling Green, Ky., Waad Ramadan Alwan, right, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, left. The two men are charged with trying to send sniper rifles, Stinger missiles, and money to al-Qaeda operatives in their home country.

Two Iraqi nationals who came to the US as refugees have been arrested in Kentucky on charges that they conspired to provide money, weapons, and other support to Al Qaeda in Iraq, federal officials announced on Tuesday.

Waad Ramadan Alwan and Muhamad Shareef Hammadi, both of Bowling Green, have entered not guilty pleas and are being held pending a pretrial detention hearing.

They were charged in a 23-count indictment returned last week.

Mr. Alwan is accused of conspiring to kill US nationals abroad, distributing information on the manufacture and use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq, and plotting to transfer Stinger missiles to Iraq.

Mr. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to Al Qaeda in Iraq, and conspiring to transfer Stinger missiles.

“Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill US troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq, and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq,” said Todd Hinnen, acting assistant attorney general for national security.

Both Alwan and Hammadi came to the US from Iraq in 2009.

The FBI began investigating Alwan five months after he arrived after being granted refugee status. A year later, in August 2010, the FBI began using a confidential human source who engaged in recorded conversations with Alwan.

The investigation of Hammadi began in January.

Alwan admitted in recorded conversations that from 2003 to 2006 he was an insurgent who used IEDs and sniper rifles to target US forces in Iraq, according to court documents.

Based on these representations, the FBI has identified two latent fingerprints belonging to Alwan on a component of an unexploded IED recovered by US forces near Bayji, Iraq, according to officials. Alwan is believed to have worked at the power plant at Bayji and lived nearby before moving to the US.

He reportedly told the FBI source that he worked on the IED with an associate who had lost an eye in a premature explosion. US officials have discovered a latent fingerprint on a recovered unexploded IED that they say belongs to an individual with one eye who was detained by US forces in June 2008.

Federal officials say in September 2010 Alwan expressed interest in helping the FBI’s confidential source provide support to militants in Iraq. They plotted to provide money, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, C-4 plastic explosives, and Stinger missiles to insurgents fighting US troops.

Later, Alwan allegedly recruited Hammadi to help in the effort.

Officials stressed that none of the money or weapons involved in the undercover operation in the US was actually provided to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

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