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Sunday, March 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Two Iraqi refugees indicted for plot

Feds say plan was to send cash, explosives to al-Qaida terrorists

By Brian Bennett Tribune Washington bureau

WASHINGTON – Before being granted refugee status in the U.S. and settling down in Bowling Green, Ky., Waad Ramadan Alwan was allegedly a sniper and skilled bomb maker targeting U.S. forces who bragged that his “lunch and dinner would be an American.”

Alwan is one of two Iraqi refugees who the Justice Department announced Tuesday had been charged for participating in an alleged plot to send cash, explosives and Stinger missiles to Iraq for use against Americans.

The men are among 56,000 Iraqis who took advantage of special programs to come to the U.S. for people who demonstrated they were in danger from militias in Iraq for their religious beliefs or because they were translators for U.S. government or media organizations.

Alwan was admitted into the U.S. even though his fingerprint was found in 2005 on an unexploded roadside bomb that was set to blow up a U.S. convoy in Iraq. The print was loaded into a Department of Defense database, but a search of that database was not then a part of the application process for refugee status in the U.S.

When asked how men who actively fought against the U.S. in Iraq could have been allowed in the country, a Department of Homeland Security official said the case demonstrates that there were “specific gaps” in refugee vetting procedures before 2010.

Since then, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, those information-sharing weaknesses have been identified and corrected.

Alwan, 30, and his cousin, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, were arrested in Kentucky on May 25, and a federal grand jury returned the 23-count indictment the next day.

Charges against Alwan include conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals abroad; attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaida in Iraq; and conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.

Hammadi was charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaida in Iraq and conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.

According to charging documents that were unsealed Tuesday, Alwan recruited Hammadi to assist him.

Over the course of a long undercover investigation, Alwan and Hammadi allegedly picked up weapons provided by an FBI informant, at least some of them made inoperable by the FBI, and delivered them to a location believing they would be shipped to al-Qaida in Iraq.

There are no indications in the charging documents that Alwan or Hammadi had made plans to attack targets in the U.S.

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