The Justice Department anounced on Wednesday that federal authorities have arrested an Iraqi national accused of being an ISIS member, who was living in Sacramento, California. The suspected terrorist entered the U.S. by lying on his application for refugee status.
What are the details?
Omar Ameen, 45, appeared before a federal magistrate judge on Wednesday. Ameen is a native of Rawah in Iraq's Anbar province. He and his family (he has 10 brothers) allegedly helped the local al-Qaeda affiliate, before he eventually joined the Islamic State. The detention memorandum describes Ameen as a “main local figure” in both terror groups.
Iraqi authorities contend that as a member of the Islamic State, Ameen killed Ihsan Abdulhafiz Jasim, an officer in the Rawah Police Department on June 22, 2014. Rawah had fallen to ISIS forces only a day before that incident. Multiple witnesses interviewed by Iraqi investigators testified to having seen Ameen during the attack, and confirmed that he was the one who killed Jasim.
He is also accused of “helping to plant improvised explosive devices.”
Slightly more than two weeks earlier, on June 5, 2014, Ameen's application for refugee status was approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He arrived in the U.S. on Nov. 4 of that year. The FBI has been monitoring Ameen since 2016 on suspicion of visa fraud.
These charges have not yet been proven in court. On Monday, he will have his second court date with a federal magistrate judge who will decide whether or not to extradite him to Iraq. If extradited, he could face the death penalty.
Ameen managed to hide his terror affiliation when he applied for refugee status. At the time of his application, he made up a story about how his father was killed and his brother was kidnapped by Shiite militants. This was not the case. He later applied for a U.S. green card.
Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the George Washington University Program on Extremism, told The New York Times that this was “one of the most serious cases” of failure in the refugee vetting system that he had seen, especially since “a lot of the information on him was readily available.”
The Iraqi arrest warrant was issued on May 16. On Tuesday, a U.S. magistrate judge issued a warrant to comply with the United States's extradition treaty with Iraq. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Sacramento was then deployed to arrest Ameen.