Three Iraqi invaders pretending to be refugees living in Northern Virginia have been arrested and charged with fraud and lying on their asylum applications used to enter the United States—with one being implicated to a terrorist plot in which an American citizen was held hostage.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, Yousif Al Mashhandani (“Yousif”), 35, of Vienna, and Adil Hasan, 38, of Burke, who are full biological brothers, and Enas Ibrahim, 32, also of Burke, who is Hasan’s wife, were all arrested earlier this week.
Each are charged with attempting to obtain naturalization contrary to law, the statement said.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on Nov. 1, 2004, a United States citizen, identified as R.H., was kidnapped in Iraq and held with other hostages for months in horrible conditions in an underground bunker.
After a raid in 2005 freed the hostages, authorities detained Majid Al Mashhadani (“Majid”), who is a full biological brother of Yousif and Adil Hasan, and he admitted his complicity in the kidnapping of R.H.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Yousif was admitted into the United States as a refugee in 2008. In May 2013, Yousif resided in Vienna and applied for naturalization as a United States citizen.
In connection with Yousif’s applications for citizenship, his fingerprints were taken.
According to an FBI fingerprint specialist, analysis conducted in November 2013 determined that Yousif’s fingerprints match those found on a document at the underground bunker where forces rescued R.H. and others in Iraq in 2005. This implicates Yousif as having been physically present at the underground torture chamber where the American citizen was held.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Yousif, Hasan, and Ibrahim applied for asylum in the U.S., became lawful permanent residents, and have applied to naturalize and become citizens.
On various applications and forms throughout their respective immigration processes, each has provided an extensive list of family members and information of their respective family trees; however, none ever listed any reference to Majid.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on March 4, 2016, FBI agents interviewed Yousif, Hasan, and Ibrahim.
When FBI agents asked Yousif why he failed to include reference to Majid on the family tree form, Yousif said he omitted reference to Majid because, when he was a refugee, he was told by others applying for refugee status that he would not be allowed into the United States if any immediate family members had a criminal background.
Hasan admitted to FBI agents that Majid was his brother, and Hasan and Ibrahim each admitted they discussed not including Majid’s name on their applications for refugee status because their connection to Majid might delay their ability to gain such status.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, to justify his application for refugee status, Yousif reported that in 2006, while working as an anti-corruption investigator for the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity in Iraq, he started receiving threats from a Shiite militia known as the “Al Mahdi Militia,” in order to coerce Yousif to drop a particular corruption investigation.
Yousif said that in May 2006 Adil was kidnapped by the Al Mahdi Militia, and only released after Yousif arranged to drop the investigation in question and helped pay a large ransom.
Yousif said that after Adil was released, he reopened the corruption investigation, only to flee to Jordon in October 2006 after his parents’ house was burned down.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, to justify his application for refugee status, Hasan provided sworn testimony that, in 2006, he had been kidnapped and tortured by members of the Al Mahdi Army and held for nearly a month. Hasan said he was released upon the payment of a ransom of $20,000.
In an interview by FBI agents in April 2016, Hasan said he was threatened in Iraq on two occasions, but made no mention of being kidnapped, held hostage, and tortured for nearly a month.
In a subsequent interview in October 2016, FBI agents confronted Hasan about the discrepancy in his stories and Hasan admitted to making false statements and creating his persecution story.
Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.