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Tag: Iraq

Wife of Slain Journalist Sues FBI for Confidential Records about His Murder

Slain journalist Steven Vincent.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The wife of a journalist who was beaten and shot dead in Iraq in 2015 won’t rest until she gets justice.

But first, Lisa Ramaci needs classified documents from the FBI to go after Iranian officials she believes are behind the death of Steven Vincent, a 49-year-old freelance reporter.

Ramaci has sued the FBI for those documents, saying the bureau has refused to release more than 100 pages of documents, the New York Post reports

Ramadi has filed a civil lawsuit against Iran, its central bank and its national oil company.

Vincent was captured, beaten and shot dead by local police in Iraq a few days after he published an article about Iranian-sponsored radicals.

FBI’s George Piro, Chief Interrogator of Saddam Hussein, Named AD of International Operations

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

George Piro, the Beirut-born Assyrian-American  FBI agent who was the team leaders and lead interrogator of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, has been named assistant director of the International Operations Division at FBI headquarters. His most recent assignment was head of the Miami field office.

Piro joined the FBI in 1999, and was first assigned to the Phoenix Division, where he worked international terrorism cases.

During his FBI career,  Mr. Piro has held leadership positions in the Counterterrorism Division, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, the Washington Field Office and as a member of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.

ICE Recently Arrested Nearly 200 Iraqi Immigrants Who Face Grave Dangers Returning Home

ICE agents, via ICE.

ICE agents, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ICE arrested 114 Iraqi immigrants with criminal records in metro Detroit over the weekend, stoking concerns that the detainees will face hostility and even death by returning to their former country.

The mass detainment that targeted the U.S.’ largest population of Chaldeans, who are Iraqi Christians, contradicts President Trump’s previous pledge to protect Christians from hostility in the Middle East.

In March 2016, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that ISIS was committing “genocide” against Christians in Iraq.

But ICE defended the arrests of Iraqi immigrants, claiming they have criminal pasts and pose security threats.

“The operation in this region was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested,” Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Detroit, said in a statement. “The vast majority of those arrested in the Detroit metropolitan area have very serious felony convictions, multiple felony convictions in many cases. I applaud the efforts of the law enforcement personnel who, day in and day out, put their lives on the line to protect this community.”

ICE also arrested 85 other Iraqi nationals outside of Michigan, according to the immigration enforcement agency.

In all, 1,444 Iraqi nationals have received final orders for removal.

The “overwhelming majority” of the 1999 Iraqi immigrants recently detained nationwide “had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses,” ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls told the Detroit Free Press

Attorneys are scrambling to fight for the immigrants to prevent their removal.

ICE insisted the detainees “pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”

“These arrests are consistent with the routine, targeted enforcement action carried out by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations on a daily basis. All enforcement activities are conducted with the same level of professionalism and respect that ICE officers exhibit every day.”

ICE Detains Dozens of Chaldeans in Metro Detroit, Leading to Standoff with Protesters

ice-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ICE agents arrested dozens of Chaldeans in metro Detroit on Sunday, leading to a standoff with protesters.

Witnesses and immigration advocates said roughly 40 Chaldeans Christians, most of whom have a criminal record, were detained.

If they are sent back to Iraq, it “is like a death sentence,” Martin Manna, an Iraqi-American Christian advocate who is president of the Chaldean Community Foundation based in Sterling Heights, told the Detroit Free Press.  

On Sunday night, dozens of protesters briefly blocked the bus where the detainees were placed.

Metro Detroit is home to the second largest Chaldean population in the U.S.

ICE declined to comment on specifics of the arrests.

“ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending removable aliens,” spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement Sunday evening.

“The focus of these targeted enforcement operations is consistent with the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis.”

FBI Arrests Iraqi Refugees Who Failed to Disclose Brother’s Involvement in Kidnapping of American

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Iraqi refugees living in Northern Virginia were arrested by the FBI after failing to disclose their brother’s involvement in a 2004 kidnapping of an American contractor in Iraq, the New York Times reports. 

The refugees, Yousif Al Mashhandani, 35, of Vienna, Va., and Adil Hasan, 38, of Burke, Va. admitted they didn’t make the disclosure when applying for citizenship, according to a criminal complaint. They were charged with visa fraud.

The Times wrote:

The F.B.I. said it had learned the brothers withheld the information when Mr. Mashhandani was fingerprinted as part of the citizenship process. When those fingerprints were analyzed in 2013, they matched those on a document seized by American commandos during the rescue of the contractor, Roy Hallums, in 2005.

The arrests come as President Trump is seeking to bar visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Iraq was originally among the countries but was later removed from the ban, which is being challenged by federal courts. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that the United States needs to strengthen its borders to protect itself from terrorism.

As part of an investigation into the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, F.B.I. agents interviewed Majid Al Mashhandani, the brother of Mr. Mashhandani and Mr. Hasan, in 2005. He admitted taking part in the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, who was held for 311 days in an underground bunker with other hostages south of Baghdad.

Paul Abbate, Head of FBI’s Washington Field Office, Going to Headquarters

Paul Abbate

Paul Abbate

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Paul Abbate, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, is moving several blocks over to headquarters.

Abbate, who was assigned to the Washington field office in September 2015, will assume the new post of executive assistant Director for the Criminal Cyber Response and Service Branch at headquarters after  the presidential inauguration in January.

Abbate jointed the FBI in March 1996 and was assigned to the New York City Field Office, where he worked in the Criminal Division and served as a member of the SWAT team.

In December 2003, Abbate transferred to the Counterterrorism Division as a supervisory special agent in the Iraq Unit, overseeing FBI counterterrorism operations and personnel deployments in Iraq. In October 2005, Abbate deployed to Iraq, serving as senior FBI liaison officer to the U.S. Department of Defense and leading a group of FBI personnel conducting counterterrorism operations in theater, according to the FBI.

From February 2006 to December 2009, he served as a supervisory special agent within the Newark Division’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and in February 2008, he headed to Afghanistan to serve as FBI deputy on-scene commander.

In December 2009, Abbate returned to the Counterterrorism Division as assistant section chief.

In July 2010, Abbate he served as assistant special agent in charge for counterterrorism matters in Los Angeles, and the following year, he returned to the Counterterrorism Division, where he served as section chief.  In 2012,  he was named special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Counterterrorism Division. During that time, he also served as the FBI on-scene commander in Libya.

From October 2013 to September 2015, Abbate headed up the FBI Detroit Division.

College Student, Iraqi Refugee Removed from Plan for Using Traditional Arabic Greeting

Southwest Airlines plane.

Southwest Airlines plane.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A college student and refugee who fled Iraq after his father was killed by Saddam Hussein, was pulled from a Southwest flight and questioned by the FBI for using a traditional Arabic greeting, The Daily Californian reports. 

Khairuldeen Mahkzoomi was on a flight from Los Angeles to Oakland when it was reported that he said the phrase, “inshallah,” meaning “if God is willing,” to his uncle over the phone.

A passenger reported hearing Mahkzoomi say the word “shahid,” which means martyr.

Mahkzoomi was removed from the plane and interrogated by the FBI.

“The way they searched me and the dogs, the officers, people were watching me and the humiliation made me so afraid because it brought all of these memories back to me,” Mahkzoomi told the Daily Californian. “I escaped Iraq because of the war, because of Saddam and what he did to my father.”

The airline company responded: “We regret any less than positive experience on board our aircraft. … Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.”

Wife of Dead ISIS Commander Charged in Death of 26-Year-Old U.S. Aid Worker

Kayla Mueller, a U.S. aid worker who was killed.

Kayla Mueller, a U.S. aid worker who was killed.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The wife of a dead ISIS commander was charged Monday after the Justice Department alleged she was part of a plot that resulted in the death of a 26-year-old U.S. aid worker who was kidnapped by ISIS in Syria, the Daily Beast reports. 

The ISIS widow, known as Umm Sayyaf, is expected to be charged by Iraqi officials, so she may never end up in a U.S. court. But the official said the charges were “an insurance policy” in case she isn’t charged in Iraq or in case she escapes prison.

What remains unclear is how 26-year-old aid worker, Kayla Mueller, died after being kidnapped by ISIS.

The charges allege that Sayyaf was a sex slave held against her will.

Sayyaf’s husband was killed, and she was taken custody and interrogated in Iraq.

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