By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – An Iraqi refugee initially accused of committing murder for the Islamic State terrorist group before coming to the United States may be deported because he lied about his immigration papers, ruled on Tuesday a federal judge.
Deputy Chief Immigration Judge Tara Naselow-Nahas ruled that Omar Abdulsattar Ameen lied when he was filling out his refugee claim to enter the United States. Among other things, she found out that he was not telling the truth when he said he had never interacted with, known or involved various terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq.
But she rejected other allegations, including that he supported, participated in terrorist activities, participated in attacks on another person or claimed that he was a member of such a group.
Naselow-Nahas discovered that Ameen had interacted with a cousin “who is clearly a member of an armed terrorist group”. She also found that the government proved he lied when he said his father was fatally shot and his brother was kidnapped.
He should be deported to Iraq, or if there is not in his last home in Turkey, the judge said, based on the government’s recommendation.
Ameen’s lawyers say he faces execution if returned to Iraq. Another federal judge in Sacramento refused in April to allow his extradition. U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan said cell phone evidence showed Ameen was in Turkey at the time of the 2014 murder.
Federal authorities have tried since 2018 to return Ameen to Iraq under a treaty with that nation, and he was quickly seized by immigration authorities after Brennan’s decision. Ameen will continue to fight the deportation, and he will seek bail, his lawyer, Siobhan Waldron, said.
He can now object that he is in too much danger to be expelled, even if he has been deemed eligible. He will appear before Naselow-Nahas for a week of hearings scheduled for late January and early February, and if it rules against him, he can seek a review by the Board of Immigration Appeals and then by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. .
“The fight is far from over,” said Waldron. She argued that “this is all based on unfounded rumors.”
FBI investigators have testified in days of intermittent hearings spanning several months that Ameen told inconsistent stories during questioning and that close family members also had ties to terrorist groups. Ameen argued that he felt pressured during the interviews out of fear for his family.
Federal prosecutors said he returned to Iraq the same month and killed a policeman in the city of Rawah after he fell into the hands of the Islamic State group. Ameen arrived in the United States five months later to be resettled as a refugee in the Sacramento, California area.
The Iraqi government said Ameen was part of an Islamic State four-vehicle caravan that opened fire on the Rawah policeman’s house. Iraqi documents indicate that Ameen then fired a fatal blow in the chest of Ihsan Abdulhafiz Jasim while he was lying on the ground. ISIS then claimed responsibility for the murder on social media.
The Department of Homeland Security alleged that Ameen kept his membership in two terrorist groups a secret when he applied for refugee status, and again when he subsequently applied for a green card.
Ameen fled to Turkey in 2012. He was granted refugee status in the United States in June 2014 on the grounds that he was a victim of terrorism.
Brennan said in April that cellphone recordings showed “Ameen was in Turkey, not Iraq, on the day of the murder.” The judge noted that Ameen had passed a lie detection test and said he had “serious doubts” about the reliability of the witnesses who placed Ameen in Iraq at the time of the murder.
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