Late last month, two refugees from Iraq were arrested down the road in Bowling Green, on charges of terrorism. The criminal complaints and indictment unsealed Tuesday were announced by Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky; Elizabeth A. Fries, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division; and the members of the Louisville Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, both former residents of Iraq who currently reside in Kentucky, were charged in a 23-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on May 26, 2011. Alwan is charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. nationals abroad; distributing information on the manufacture and use of IEDs; attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda in Iraq; as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles.
Alwan and Hammadi were arrested on May 25, 2011, on criminal complaints and made their initial appearances Tuesday in federal court in Louisville. Each faces a potential sentence of life in prison if convicted of all the charges in the indictment.
“Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq. His co-defendant, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, is accused of many of the same activities,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“These arrests were the culmination of extremely well-coordinated, diligent, and tireless efforts by the FBI and our law enforcement partners working on the JTTFs. My thanks to all those who assisted in this case,” said Elizabeth A. Fries, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division. Along with the FBI, the Louisville JTTF is comprised of the following full-time member agencies:
- Louisville Metro Police
- Kentucky State Police
- Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- U.S. Marshals Service
Also assisting were full-time members of the Lexington JTTF, which includes the University of Kentucky Police and Lexington-Fayette County Police. The U.S. Department of Defense also provided assistance in this investigation, as well as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Bowling Green Police Department.
In recorded conversations, Alwan allegedly stated that he used to procure explosives and missiles while an insurgent in Iraq; that his insurgent group conducted strikes daily; and that he used IEDs in Iraq hundreds of times. At one point, Alwan allegedly drew diagrams of four types of IEDs for the CHS and provided verbal instructions on how to build these devices. He also discussed occasions in which he had used these types of IEDs against U.S. troops. Asked whether he had achieved results from these devices in Iraq, Alwan allegedly replied, “Oh yes,” mentioning that his attacks had “f--ked up” Hummers and also targeted Bradley fighting vehicles. According to the charging documents, the FBI has been able to identify two latent fingerprints belonging to Alwan on a component of an unexploded IED that was recovered by U.S. forces near Bayji, Iraq.
The charging documents also allege that Hammadi has discussed his prior experience as an insurgent in Iraq and has told about prior IED attacks in Iraq in which he participated. In one conversation, Hammadi allegedly described how he had been arrested in Iraq, explaining that authorities captured him after the car he was driving in got a flat tire shortly after he and others had placed IEDs in the ground.
In November 2010, Alwan allegedly picked up machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from a storage facility in Kentucky and delivered them to a designated location believing they would be shipped to al Qaeda in Iraq. In January 2011, the charging documents allege, Alwan recruited Hammadi to assist in the material support activities. Alwan allegedly described Hammadi as a relative of his whose work as an insurgent in Iraq was well known.
After reminding reporters that charges contained in an indictment or criminal complaint are merely allegations, and that defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI made it clear at Tuesday’s press conference that the arrest and indictment against Hammadi and Alwan were not a reflection of Muslims in Kentucky or the United States.
Dr. G.A. Shareef, a Muslim living in Louisville, spoke to WAVE-3’s Maira Ansari yesterday, to let people know that a vast majority of Muslims here in Kentucky do not support terrorism. "Islam is a peaceful religion, Islam means peace," said Dr. Shareef. "Violence is prohibited especially revenge violence."
Actually, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Arabic word “Islam” means “surrender.”
WAVE-3’s Maira Ansari reports on the indictments of Hammadi and Alwan