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“This type of nonsense is why ACT! for America’s grassroots have been diligently working at (and succeeding) passing refugee resettlement legislation at the state level. And why we are ramping up our efforts at the federal level as well. Be sure to sign up for action alert e-mails so you can learn how to most effectively take action on this and other issues.”



Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky -- who later admitted in court that they'd attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists' fingerprints.

"We are currently supporting dozens of current counter-terrorism investigations like that," FBI Agent Gregory Carl, director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC), said in an ABC News interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Nightline".

"I wouldn't be surprised if there were many more than that," said House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul. "And these are trained terrorists in the art of bombmaking that are inside the United States; and quite frankly, from a homeland security perspective, that really concerns me."

As a result of the Kentucky case, the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News – even for many who had heroically helped U.S. forces as interpreters and intelligence assets. One Iraqi who had aided American troops was assassinated before his refugee application could be processed, because of the immigration delays, two U.S. officials said. In 2011, fewer than 10,000 Iraqis were resettled as refugees in the U.S., half the number from the year before, State Department statistics show.

Suspect in Kentucky Discovered to Have Insurgent Past

An intelligence tip initially led the FBI to Waad Ramadan Alwan, 32, in 2009. The Iraqi had claimed to be a refugee who faced persecution back home -- a story that shattered when the FBI found his fingerprints on a cordless phone base that U.S. soldiers dug up in a gravel pile south of Bayji, Iraq on Sept. 1, 2005. The phone base had been wired to unexploded bombs buried in a nearby road.

An ABC News investigation of the flawed U.S. refugee screening system, which was overhauled two years ago, showed that Alwan was mistakenly allowed into the U.S. and resettled in the leafy southern town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, a city of 60,000 which is home to Western Kentucky University and near the Army's Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. Alwan and another Iraqi refugee, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 26, were resettled in Bowling Green even though both had been detained during the war by Iraqi authorities, according to federal prosecutors.

Most of the more than 70,000 Iraqi war refugees in the U.S. are law-abiding immigrants eager to start a new life in America, state and federal officials say.

But the FBI discovered that Alwan had been arrested in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2006 and confessed on video made of his interrogation then that he was an insurgent, according to the U.S. military and FBI, which obtained the tape a year into their Kentucky probe. In 2007, Alwan went through a border crossing to Syria and his fingerprints were entered into a biometric database maintained by U.S. military intelligence in Iraq, a Directorate of National Intelligence official said. Another U.S. official insisted that fingerprints of Iraqis were routinely collected and that Alwan's fingerprint file was not associated with the insurgency.

 

"How do they get into our community?"

 

 

In 2009 Alwan applied as a refugee and was allowed to move to Bowling Green, where he quit a job he briefly held and moved into public housing on Gordon Ave., across the street from a school bus stop, and collected public assistance payouts, federal officials told ABC News.

"How do you have somebody that we now know was a known actor in terrorism overseas, how does that person get into the United States? How do they get into our community?" wondered Bowling Green Police Chief Doug Hawkins, whose department assisted the FBI.

Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Peter Boogaard said in a statement that the U.S. government "continually improves and expands its procedures for vetting immigrants, refugees and visa applicants, and today [the] vetting process considers a far broader range of information than it did in past years."

"Our procedures continue to check applicants' names and fingerprints against records of individuals known to be security threats, including the terrorist watchlist, or of law enforcement concern... These checks are vital to advancing the U.S. government's twin goal of protecting the world's most vulnerable persons while ensuring U.S. national security and public safety," the statement said.

Last year, a Department of Homeland Security senior intelligence official testified in a House hearing that Alwan and Hammadi's names and fingerprints were checked by the FBI, DHS and the Defense Department during the vetting process in 2009 and "came in clean."

After the FBI received the intelligence tip later that year, a sting operation in Kentucky was mounted to bait Alwan with a scheme hatched by an undercover operative recruited by the FBI, who offered Alwan the opportunity to ship heavy arms to al Qaeda in Iraq. The FBI wanted to know if Alwan was part of a local terror cell -- a fear that grew when he tapped a relative also living in Bowling Green, Hammadi, to help out.

The FBI secretly taped Alwan bragging to the informant that he'd built a dozen or more bombs in Iraq and used a sniper rifle to kill American soldiers in the Bayji area north of Baghdad.

"He said that he had them 'for lunch and dinner,'" recalled FBI Louisville Supervisory Special Agent Tim Beam, "meaning that he had killed them."

Alwan even sketched out IED designs, which the FBI provided to ABC News, that U.S. bomb experts had quickly determined clearly demonstrated his expertise.

 

 

'Needle in a Haystack' Fingerprint Match Found on Iraq Bomb Parts, White House Briefed

The case drew attention at the highest levels of government, FBI officials told ABC News, when TEDAC forensic investigators tasked with finding IEDs from Bayji dating back to 2005 pulled 170 case boxes and, incredibly, found several of Alwan's fingerprints on a Senao-brand remote cordless base station. A U.S. military Significant Action report on Sept. 1, 2005 said the remote-controlled trigger had been attached to "three homemade-explosive artillery rounds concealed by gravel with protruding wires."

"There were two fingerprints, developed on the top of the base station," Katie Suchma, an FBI supervisory physical scientist at TEDAC who helped locate the evidence, told ABC News at the center's IED examination lab. "The whole team was ecstatic because it was like finding a needle in a haystack."

"This was the type of bomb he's talking about when he drew those pictures," added FBI electronics expert Stephen Mallow.

Word was sent back to the FBI in Louisville.

"It was a surreal moment, it was a real game changer, so to speak, for the case," FBI agent Beam told ABC News. "Now you have solidified proof that he was involved in actual attacks against U.S. soldiers."

Worse, prosecutors later revealed at Hammadi's sentencing hearing that he and Alwan had been caught on an FBI surveillance tape talking about using a bomb to assassinate an Army captain they'd known in Bayji, who was now back home – and to possibly attack other homeland targets.

"Many things should take place and it should be huge," Hammadi told Alwan in an FBI-recorded conversation, which a prosecutor read at Hammadi's sentencing last year.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller briefed President Obama in early 2011 as agents and Louisville federal prosecutors weighed whether to arrest Alwan and Hammadi or continue arranging phony arms shipments to Iraq that the pair could assist with, consisting of machine guns, explosives and even Stinger missiles the FBI had secretly rendered inoperable and which never left the U.S.

But agents soon determined there were no other co-conspirators. An FBI SWAT team collared the terrorists in a truck south of Bowling Green in late May 2011, only weeks after al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan and Obama had visited nearby Fort Campbell to thank the SEALs and Army Nightstalker pilots for their successful mission. The Kentucky al Qaeda case drew little attention as the nation celebrated Bin Laden's death.

 

 

Suspects Linked to Attack That Killed 4 US Soldiers

Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers who had served in Bayji in 2005 saw news reports about the two arrests, and Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Hedetniemi called the FBI to alert them to an Aug. 9, 2005, IED attack that killed four of their troopers in a humvee patrolling south of the town. The U.S. attorney's office in Louisville eventually placed the surviving soldiers in its victim notification system for the case, even though it couldn't be conclusively proven that Alwan and Hammadi had killed the Guardsmen.

The four Pennsylvania soldiers killed that day were Pfc. Nathaniel DeTample, 19, Spec. Gennaro Pellegrini, 31, Spec. Francis J. Straub Jr., 24, and Spec. John Kulick, 35.

"It was a somber moment for the platoon, we had a great deal of love and respect for those guys and it hit us pretty hard," Hedetniemi said in an interview in the Guard's armory near Philadelphia. "I think that these two individuals are innately evil to be able to act as a terrorist and attack and kill American soldiers, then have the balls to come over to the United States and try to do the same exact thing here in our homeland."

Confronted with all the evidence against them, Alwan and Hammadi agreed to plead guilty to supporting terrorism and admitted their al Qaeda-Iraq past. Alwan cooperated and received 40 years, while Hammadi received a life term which he is appealing. A hearing for Hammadi's appeal took place Tuesday in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio.

"We need to take this as a case study and draw the right lessons from it, and not just high-five over this," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, who headed the military's Joint IED Defeat Organization until last May. "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?"

Barbero is credited with leveraging the Kentucky case to help the FBI get funding to create a new state of the art fingerprint lab focused solely on its IED repository in a huge warehouse outside Washington. The new FBI lab assists counterterrorism investigations of suspected bombmakers and IED emplacers and looks for latent prints on 100,000 IED remnants collected over the past decade by the military and stored in the vast TEDAC warehouse.

The only man in the Humvee to survive the 2005 IED bombing in Bayji, Daniel South, who is now an Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Texas, said he was stunned to learn al Qaeda-Iraq insurgents were living in Kentucky -- but he's glad they were finally brought to justice for attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.

"I kind of wish that we had smoked [Alwan] when it happened, but we didn't have that opportunity so I guess this is second best," South told ABC News.

[source]

 

SEATTLE -- A pair of teenage girls attacked a woman who is nine-months pregnant and stole her cellphone as she walked home last Tuesday in North Seattle, according to the Seattle Police Department.

The victim left a store on the corner of Northeast Northgate Way and Roosevelt Way Northeast shortly after 6 p.m. and noticed two girls between the ages of 13 and 15 wearing burkas follow her.

According to the police report for the incident, the girls caught up to the victim near Northeast 113th Street and Pinehurst Way Northeast and asked to use her phone.

The victim told the girls they couldn't use her phone, but she would make a phone call for them.

When the phone call didn't work, the girls jumped the victim, knocking her to the ground, according to the report. The victim later told officers one of the girls held her while the other pried the phone out of her hand.

The girls ran off, and officers were unable to find them when they arrived.

[source]
 

 

Des Moines imam argues sexual exploitation charges violate religious freedom



Des Moines Register

Written by Grant Rodgers

An attorney for a Des Moines Islamic leader charged with sexual abuse and exploitation is asking a judge to drop two of the charges, arguing that they violate the man's religious freedom.

In a motion to dismiss filed last week in Polk County District Court, Des Moines defense attorney Angela Campbell argued that Nermin Spahic, 40, had never met the two women who accused him of sexual abuse before the day of a religious ceremony that led to his arrest. The motion also says that Spahic never claimed to offer "mental health services" or counseling.

Spahic faces one count of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. He was arrested in August after a 42-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter told police that Spahic sexually assaulted them during a religious ceremony.

Iowa law spells out that counselors and therapists are barred from "sexual conduct" with patients. But because Spahic never had a formal relationship with the two women, using his religious position to charge him should be unconstitutional, Campbell argued in the motion.

"The ceremony he was performing was not psychotherapy, nor was it counseling," the motion said. "The sexual exploitation charges are therefore necessarily based on his religious identity and the religious nature of his relationships to the accusers."

Additionally, there's no evidence that the two women were "emotionally dependent" upon Spahic, the motion said. Spahic will also argue he is not guilty on the sexual abuse charge at trial.

The woman on Aug. 12 called Spahic to her house in Johnston for help with her daughter, who reportedly suffered personal issues, including depression and drug use, police and court papers said. Spahic allegedly performed an Islamic ceremony that involved "chanting and rubbing the body with oil," court papers said.

In one section of the sealed minutes of evidence, prosecutors "inappropriately refer to Mr. Spahic as a 'Voodoo priest,'" according to the motion. At the time of his arrest Spahic served as the imam - a leader of Islamic prayer services - at the Des Moines Islamic and Cultural Center Bosniak on Lower Beaver Road.

Campbell also filed a motion for a judge to review mental health records of the two women. The mother told police investigating the alleged sexual abuse that her daughter had a "history of mental illness and deception," the motion said.

Spahic bonded out of the Polk County Jail after his arrest and is scheduled for trial on Dec. 2.

[source]

 

Foreign women who marry and move to a Muslim country can be trapped by culture and laws in which they have few rights. One American woman has a harrowing tale.

(Photo: Adam L. Linn)

Story Highlights

  • Sara Rogers spent four years trapped in Palestine until she escaped with her children in 2005
  • The State Department has said it has "very limited capability" in Gaza regarding kidnapped citizens

LONDON — Gunfire cracked all around Sara Rogers as she climbed to the roof of her high-rise home in Gaza. The year was 2005, and Israeli soldiers were fighting Palestinian gunmen to stop rocket attacks and destroy smuggling tunnels.

Rogers closed her eyes. "Just let one hit me in the head," she begged. "And make it quick."

It was not the months of violence of the Second Intifada that made the Italian-American college graduate ache for death. It was her virtual enslavement by one of the most feared families in the Middle East.

Days later, Rogers was in a taxi with her five children, praying her husband wouldn't catch her and their five children before she reached the Israeli border.

"It was the most relieved I have ever felt," she recalled of her escape to Israel. "Four years of hell was finally over."

Rogers is not the first Western woman to marry an Arab man and find out how few rights she had once removed to a Middle East country that abides by sharia, or Islamic law. But some are working to make her among the last.

Micah Thorner, director of post-convention support programs at the Hague, said such cases will be the subject of a gathering in Tunisia this month "to engage states that are based on sharia legal systems in dialogue with states that are party to the convention."

Thorner said the aim is to get sharia nations to agree on some principles for the resolution of parental disputes involving children. But many nations in the Middle East have not signed on to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international agreement protecting against detainment of children.

"As the convention gains wider acceptance throughout the world, these types of situations are probably less likely to occur," Thorner said.

The ordeal of an American woman who was held captive with her child by her husband in Iran was chronicled in the 1991 book and film "Not Without My Daughter." And a French woman who escaped her Saudi prince husband has yet to be rejoined with her daughter despite a 2012 French court ruling ordering the husband to turn over the child.

The U.S. State Department does not keep records on its citizens who are kidnapped on foreign soil. Though it does try to put pressure on governments for an American's release, State has gone on record in the past that it has "very limited capability" in Gaza.

When such kidnappings do occur, it often appears as a surprise to women as it was to Rogers, a bright multicultural studies student from upstate New York.

Rogers was living with her mother in Las Cruces, a city on the Rio Grande in New Mexico, when she became enchanted by a soft-spoken Arab man working at the Middle Eastern cafe where she'd often study.

"I was the feminist, the rebel, everything you could imagine," she said. Hatem Abu Taha proposed to her three days after they met. They were married soon after.

"The morning after we wed, my husband got up to meet his friends," she recalled. "I was like, 'What? We're newlyweds.'"

"He just told me he was doing guy things and I could do woman things," she said in an interview at her home outside Boston.

Rogers worked as a nurse assistant but hoped for better. She completed a master's degree and was preparing to write a book. Her husband rarely worked. He spoke often of his native land.

The couple had three children and were expecting a fourth when Taha said it was time they traveled to the Middle East to visit his Palestinian relatives. It was 2001.

Taha's family lived in Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt from which Palestinian militants launched Qassam rockets into Israel.

Rogers was surprised to see that Taha's family appeared to be well off. They owned, he told her, Gaza's only cigarette patent. She was also not ready for what happened to her husband.

Taha was ultra-patriotic, she said, and passive to the will of his family who were hostile to the American in their home. After two weeks, Rogers said her kids were "breaking down." Her eldest son was suffering anxiety attacks. Her 2-year-old daughter had contracted dysentery.

When they arrived two weeks before, carpenters were building a third-floor addition to the family home. Taha told Rogers it was for his brother and his wife. But when the work was done, Taha told her the unit was where she would live.

Rogers was distressed and said she wanted the family to return home to the United States.

"He just laughed: 'You have no embassy here. You have no family. No one.' I was in shock," she said.

Her mother-in-law was the cruelest, she said, patrolling the downstairs so Rogers didn't escape. The children were called "Yehudi"(Jews) and bullied constantly at school. Her husband told her the children were his and that she was nothing but "a vessel."

"I did not exist as a person," she said.

There was worse to come. Rogers said Taha struck her and broke her jaw for not cleaning the refrigerator properly. And she was suspicious that her in-laws weren't just involved in cigarette trading.

They would have lengthy conversations with members of Hamas, the Palestinian terror group whose urban warfare tactics Rogers witnessed firsthand.

"The Palestinians would get inside a local school and start shooting from the windows," she said. "And the Israelis would just fire back. Then you'd see people holding up dead Palestinian kids."

When Rogers pleaded to move away from the perilous border with Israel, her father-in-law refused, claiming it would be an honor for them to be "martyred." It was soon clear the family was active in terror networks. Israeli aerial attacks were common.

"We could hear the helicopter coming a mile away: tick, tick, tick, tick," Rogers said. "Then it would drop the bomb."

Rogers' eldest son was injured by an Israeli tank shell. Her newborn son chewed holes in his feet because of the stress. One night, Taha and his nephew Yahya didn't return from a trip.

"On the BBC was a report that two Palestinians from Islamic Jihad had claimed an attack and a young man and his wife were dead," said Rogers. "My sister-in-law came up the stairs crying happily, saying that Yahya was now a martyr and in heaven. I had to get out."

On a trip to Gaza City to meet a family friend, Rogers slipped away while the men were at afternoon prayers. In her burka, she had heard that illegal taxis brought people from Gaza to Israel and pleaded with a local store owner to call her one.

"I asked the cab driver how long it took to Erez and he said half an hour. I said, 'If you can make it in 15 minutes, you can have every bit of gold I have.' He got me to the border."

Rogers said that speaking about her life in Palestine helps ease the pain. But it will be a long time until she recovers. "I try to take the positives from everything," she said. "I meet good people and everything makes me grateful."

"My kids are smart, funny, you'd never have guessed what they went through," she added. "I tell them that it was a bad thing but that it was given to them for a reason. They can make their lives count."

[source]

 

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