What an interesting day for the question of how to address cases involving participation in the insurgency in Iraq.
Earlier today we learned that Ali Musa Daqduq, the last American military detainee in Iraq (who is believed to have orchestrated the capture, torture, and murder of a group of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq), was turned over to Iraqi authorities to face prosecution at their hands rather than being removed to face prosecution in U.S. custody.
Now comes news that another individual alleged to have been involved in insurgent attacks on US troops—Waad Ramadan Alwan, who was arrested in Kentucky, but had been in Iraq previously—has pled guilty to a host of charges. The plea agreement is attached, and the press release follows below:
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Iraqi citizen Waad Ramadan Alwan pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges today in U.S. District Court 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 Elizabeth A. Fries, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division.
Alwan, 30, a former resident of Iraq, pleaded guilty to all counts of a 23-count indictment charging him 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 al-Qaeda in Iraq; as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles. Alwan was indicted by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green, Ky., on May 26, 2011.
Alwan faces a maximum sentence of life in prison under the sentencing guidelines and a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for April 3, 2012, at noon in federal court in Bowling Green before Judge Russell.
Alwan’s co-defendant, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 24, is charged in the same indictment with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaeda in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles. Hammadi has entered a plea of not guilty to all charges and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. A trial date for him has not been scheduled. Hammadi and Alwan were first arrested on criminal complaints on May 25, 2011.
“The successful investigation, arrest, interrogation and prosecution of Mr. Alwan demonstrates the effectiveness of our intelligence and law enforcement authorities in bringing terrorists to justice and preventing them from harming the American people,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “I applaud all the dedicated professionals in the law enforcement and intelligence communities who are responsible for this successful outcome.”
According to the plea agreement and other court documents filed in this case, from about 2003 through 2006, Alwan knowingly conspired to kill U.S. nationals in Iraq. During this period, Alwan was in Iraq where he conspired with others to plant and detonate numerous IEDs against U.S. troops in Iraq. For instance, Alwan admitted that he and his co-conspirators planted an IED in a road near the Salah ad Din province in Iraq in an attempt to kill U.S. troops that traveled on this particular road. In addition, the FBI found two latent fingerprints belonging to Alwan on a component of a separate IED that was recovered by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2005.
Alwan also admitted today that from about October 2010 through May 2011, he knowingly taught and demonstrated to another individual in Kentucky how to manufacture and use an IED. Specifically, Alwan drew diagrams of different types of IEDs and also provided detailed oral instructions on how to manufacture and use those IEDs. He provided these diagrams with the intent that they be used to train others in the construction and use of such IEDs for the purpose of killing U.S. nationals overseas, including officers and employees of the United States.
In addition, Alwan admitted that from about September 2010 through May 2011, while in Kentucky, he knowingly attempted to provide material support and resources to terrorists and to al-Qaeda in Iraq, including money, weapons, and expert advice and assistance. On multiple occasions, for example, Alwan transferred money believing it would be provided to al-Qaeda in Iraq for the purpose of murdering U.S. employees or U.S. nationals overseas. In addition, he also transferred Stinger surface-to-air missile launcher systems, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, C4 plastic explosives, grenades, machine guns and sniper rifles, believing these items would be provided to al-Qaeda in Iraq for the purpose of murdering of U.S. employees or U.S. nationals overseas.
Finally, Alwan admitted that on March 16, 2011, while in Kentucky, he conspired with another individual to transfer, receive, possess and export two Stinger surface-to-air missile launcher systems.
Neither the bomb-making instructions, nor the Stinger missiles nor the other weapons or money transferred by Alwan while in Kentucky were actually provided to al-Qaeda in Iraq, but instead were carefully controlled by law enforcement as part of an undercover operation.
“Today in open court, Waad Alwan admitted to engaging in terrorist activities both here in the United States and in Iraq. He acknowledged he had built and placed numerous improvised explosive devices (IEDs) aimed at killing and injuring American soldiers in Iraq, and 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 Alwan to justice is the result of a comprehensive effort by many in our law enforcement and intelligence communities. 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 and our many other partners are to be commended. Their collaborative 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.”
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.
This prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mike Bennett and Bryan Calhoun from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Larry Schneider from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.