Al-Qaeda Bombers Came to US as Refugees

Their fingerprints were found on Iraq IEDs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2013 4:51 AM CST
Al-Qaeda Bombers Came to US as Refugees
In this 2011 photo provided by the US Attorney’s office, 25-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, left, and 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan hold a missile launcher in Bowling Green, Ky.    (AP Photo/US Attorney’s office)

A pair of Iraqi bomb-making experts who boasted about killing American soldiers made it into the US as refugees because of apparent bungles with background checks—and authorities fear there could be dozens of similar cases, ABC finds. Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were allowed to settle in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 2009 despite having been detained by Iraqi authorities during the war. After a tip-off, investigators discovered Alwan's fingerprints on a phone used to detonate IEDs in Iraq several years earlier—possibly including one that killed four American troops. Both men were arrested after an FBI sting operation caught them trying to ship weapons and cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq, and investigators say they bragged to undercover agents about having killed American troops. The pair are now serving lengthy prison sentences.

"How did a person who we detained in Iraq—linked to an IED attack, we had his fingerprints in our government system—how did he walk into America in 2009?" says the former head of the military's anti-IED task force, who helped the FBI create a lab to check for fingerprints on 100,000 IED fragments from Afghanistan and Iraq. The information is being used in "dozens of current counter-terrorism investigations," says the operation's chief. Some 73,000 Iraqis were admitted to the US for resettlement between 2006 and 2012, but the State Department stopped processing cases for six months after the Kentucky case surfaced in 2011. Even those who helped US forces as interpreters or informers were not processed, and at least one interpreter was assassinated during the delay. (More Bowling Green stories.)

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