FBI : Iraqi in Ky. terror case bragged about past

February 27, 2012 - 1:35 PM
US Terrorism Charges Iraqis

FILE - In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, an Iraqi living as a refugee in Bowling Green, Ky., is shown. The FBI says Shareef Hammadi, an Iraqi national living in Kentucky, bragged about doing "two to three operations a day in Baghdad" while allegedly plotting with an informant to ship weapons and money to Al-Qaida in his home country. In a search warrant application, the FBI quoted 24-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi as saying he didn't know how many explosives he placed in Iraq because "By God I didn't count them." The search warrant, filed ahead of trial in federal court in Bowling Green, details recorded conversations between Hammadi, Waad Ramadan Alwan and an unidentified confidential source. Hammadi's trial is scheduled for July 30. Alwan pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in December. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service via The Courier-Journal)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An Iraqi man who settled in Kentucky as a refugee boasted about having been an insurgent in Baghdad as he plotted with a confidential informant to ship weapons and money to Al-Qaida in his home country, the FBI said in a search warrant application obtained Monday.

FBI Special Agent Chris Faber quoted 24-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi as saying he didn't know how many explosives he had placed in Iraq because "By God I didn't count them."

"I mean, I used to do two or three operations a day in Baghdad and I used to do every day in my neighborhood," Hammadi said.

The search warrant, approved Jan. 25 and obtained by The Associated Press as a public record, gives details of recorded conversations between Hammadi, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan and the confidential source from late 2009 through early summer 2011 in Bowling Green.

Hammadi faces 12 charges, including perjury and attempting to send material support to a known terrorist organization. His trial is scheduled for July 30. Alwan pleaded guilty to 23 terrorism-related charges in December and is to be sentenced April 3.

The warrant also detailed how Hammadi and Alwan acquired what they thought were working weapons, including rocket propelled grenade launchers, C4 explosives and Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, and allegedly plotted to ship those and financial aid to Al-Qaida in Iraq. The FBI said all the weapons were rendered inoperable.

Prosecutors sought the warrant to seize and search four cell phones from Hammadi because records show that he made international phone calls on them. The warrant does not reveal what agents found on the phones.

Prosecutors say Hammadi lied to gain refugee status and enter the United States. Prosecutors said Alwan took part in insurgent activities in Iraq, including planting improvised explosive devices targeting U.S. troops.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Louisville, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on the details of the warrant.

An FBI informant, whose identity remains secret, met with Alwan for nearly 18 months and Hammadi for about five months. Faber wrote in the warrant application that agents first placed an informant with Alwan in August 2010, about 11 months after the investigation started.

Alwan recruited Hammadi from Las Vegas in January 2011 to assist in shipping money and weapons to Al-Qaida, Faber wrote.

During multiple meetings, Faber wrote, the three men discussed sending cash to insurgents in amounts ranging from $200,000 to $600,000 at a time, without triggering the suspicion of federal officials.

Faber said Hammadi and Alwan were recorded at an FBI-rented storage facility in February preparing two rocket propelled grenade launchers, two machine guns, two sniper rifles and two cases of C4 plastic explosives for shipment to Iraq.

On Feb. 16, the informant met with Alwan and Hammadi and talked about "Hajji," a fictitious person the informant said was heading the operation. The informant told Hammadi that if he ever got into trouble, Hajji would help.

"No, no, thank God all is normal," Hammadi replied.

The two men then discussed the Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, called Strelas. Hammadi questioned why the weapons weren't sent sooner. The informant cited the size of the weapon, but said arrangements had been made to send them now, Faber wrote.

"They're long, very long," said Hammadi, who noted insurgents he worked with in Iraq "had 11 of them," Faber wrote.

Over the next three months, Hammadi and Alwan delivered more inert weapons, including hand grenades and explosives, from an FBI-run storage facility to the tractor-trailer, Faber wrote. The FBI arrested the pair as they delivered three machine guns, three rocket-propelled grenade launchers and two cases of C4 plastic explosives to the tractor-trailer on May 25, Faber wrote.

Faber said after being arrested, Hammadi admitted to taking part in the plot and to participating in an insurgent cell in Iraq that attacked coalition troops.

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Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere is on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP