Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Terrorism: Iraqi National Pleads Guilty to 12-Count Terrorism Indictment in Kentucky

U.S. Department of Justice 
Office of Public Affairs

LOUISVILLE, KY—Iraqi citizen Mohanad Shareef Hammadi pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges today in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky before Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell, announced Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky; and Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division.

Hammadi, 24, a former resident of Iraq, pleaded guilty to all counts of a 12-count superseding indictment. The superseding indictment charged him with five counts of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and four counts of attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The superseding indictment also charged him with one count of conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles and with two counts of making false statements in immigration matters. Hammadi was first indicted on May 26, 2011 and was subsequently charged in a superseding indictment returned on Feb. 15, 2012 by a federal grand jury meeting in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Hammadi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison under the sentencing guidelines and a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. Hammadi’s sentencing is scheduled for December 5, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green before Senior Judge Russell at 11:30 a.m.

Hammadi’s co-defendant, Waad Ramadan Alwan, pleaded guilty to all counts of the 23-count indictment on December 16, 2011, before Senior Judge Russell in Bowling Green. Alwan was 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 improvised explosive devices (IEDs); attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to AQI; as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles.

Hammadi and Alwan were both arrested on May 25, 2011, in Bowling Green on criminal complaints. Both defendants were closely monitored by federal law enforcement authorities in the months leading up to their arrests. Neither was charged with plotting attacks within the United States.

“Today’s guilty plea is another testament to the effectiveness of the intelligence and law enforcement communities in bringing terrorists to justice and preventing them from harming the American people,” said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “I applaud all those responsible for this successful outcome.”

“In open court today, Mohanad Hammadi admitted to engaging in terrorist activities here in the United States. He admitted that he tried to send numerous weapons from Kentucky to Iraq to be used against American soldiers,” said U.S. Attorney Hale. “Bringing Hammadi to justice is the result of a comprehensive law enforcement effort. The FBI agents of the Louisville Division, along with the federal and local law enforcement members of the Joint Terrorism Task Forces here in Kentucky, including the Bowling Green Police Department, and our many other partners, are to be commended. Their collaborative law enforcement effort successfully thwarted the ongoing intentions of an experienced terrorist. The guilty plea today sends a strong message to anyone who would attempt similar crimes that they will face the same determined law enforcement and prosecution efforts.”

“Protecting the United States from terrorist attacks remains the FBI’s top priority,” said Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Kentucky. “Using our growing suite of investigative and intelligence capabilities, FBI agents and analysts assigned to our Bowling Green office were able to neutralize a potential threat. Our local Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised of FBI agents and other local, state, and federal agencies from across the commonwealth, remains committed to dismantling extremist networks and cutting off financing and other forms of support provided by terrorist sympathizers, whether they are operating in Kentucky or worldwide.”

According to the charging documents, Hammadi entered the United States in July 2009 and, after first residing in Las Vegas, moved to Bowling Green. Alwan entered the United States in April 2009 and has lived in Bowling Green since his arrival.

According to court documents in this case, the Bowling Green office of the FBI’s Louisville Division initiated an investigation of Waad Ramadan Alwan, which, beginning in 2010, utilized a confidential human source (CHS). The CHS met with Alwan and recorded their meetings and conversations beginning in August 2010. The CHS represented to Alwan that he was working with a group to ship money and weapons to Mujahadeen in Iraq. Mujahadeen generally refers to Muslim fighters or warriors engaged in jihad. From September 2010 to January 2011, Alwan participated in deliveries of weapons and money that he believed were destined for terrorists in Iraq.

In January 2011, Alwan recruited Hammadi, a fellow Iraqi national living in Bowling Green, to assist in these material support operations. Beginning in January 2011, and continuing until his arrest in late May 2011, Hammadi participated with Alwan in money and weapons deliveries that he believed were destined for terrorists in Iraq, including AQI. Hammadi also detailed to the CHS his prior activities as an insurgent in Iraq, including his prior participation in IED attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. After his arrest on May 25, 2011, Hammadi admitted to his participation in the purported material support operations involving weapons and money that occurred between January and May, 2011. Hammadi also admitted his involvement in insurgent activities while living in Iraq, including his membership in an insurgent group and his participation in various attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.

None of the weapons, including Stinger missiles, nor any of the money delivered by Alwan or Hammadi in connection with the CHS in the United States were provided to AQI, but instead were carefully controlled by law enforcement as part of the undercover operation.

This case is being investigated by the Louisville Division of the FBI. Assisting in the investigation were members of the Louisville and Lexington Joint Terrorism Task Forces, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Bowling Green Police Department.

The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Larry Schneider from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Bennett and Bryan Calhoun from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky.