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Iraqi Refugee In U.S. Accused Of Committing Murder For ISIS

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office shows Omar Ameen, who had been living in California as a refugee and was arrested Wednesday on a warrant alleging he killed an Iraqi policeman while fighting for the Islamic State.
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office shows Omar Ameen, who had been living in California as a refugee and was arrested Wednesday on a warrant alleging he killed an Iraqi policeman while fighting for the Islamic State.

A 45-year-old Iraqi national who was granted refugee status in the U.S. is accused of having fought for ISIS and al-Qaida and is now facing extradition to Iraq on a murder charge.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Omar Ameen at his home in Sacramento on Wednesday. Ameen is charged in the 2014 death of an Iraqi police officer in his hometown, Rawah, just after it fell to the Islamic State.

Federal prosecutors say Ameen fled Iraq after the killing and lied about his background to gain entry to the U.S. as a refugee, claiming he had been persecuted in his home country.

An arrest warrant was filed in May in Iraq, where Ameen is expected to face trial. On Tuesday a federal judge in Sacramento issued a warrant based on the extradition request.

Court documents state that on June 22, 2014, a day after ISIS militants seized Rawah, Ameen rode into town in a caravan of ISIS vehicles.

They rode up to the house of the Iraqi police officer and allegedly opened fire. Prosecutors say Ameen killed the man, shooting him as he lay on the ground.

"A brutal and premeditated murder," is how they describe the alleged killing.

Witnesses told FBI investigators that it was common knowledge in Rawah that Ameen had long been involved with al-Qaida in Iraq, or AQI, and ISIS.

Ameen also is accused of committing other acts of violence on behalf of the terrorist groups, including planting improvised explosive devices. Prosecutors said that he "is not known to have ever renounced his membership in either group."

Late last year, Iraq recaptured Rawah, the last remaining Iraqi town under ISIS control. Iraqi forces triumphantly raised Iraqi flags over buildings, signaling an end to the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate, according to Reuters.

But two reports released this week by the United Nations and the U.S. government indicate there could be as many as 30,000 ISIS fighters remaining in Iraq and Syria, roughly equally distributed in half between the two countries.

Ameen is being held in U.S. custody as a flight risk and danger to the community, according to The Sacramento Bee. The next hearing in his extradition case is set for Monday.

The newspaper notes that Ameen's attorneys said Wednesday they had only learned of the case minutes before his court appearance. An Arabic interpreter was brought in to help Ameen follow the proceedings.

The Bee says defense attorney Douglas Beevers told the judge that Ameen was "aware of the basic nature of the charges," but that the attorneys had not been able to discuss the case with their client for any meaningful length of time.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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