Elizabeth Fries, Special Agent in Charge FBI Kentucky
David Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky
Kentuckiana Muslims at prayer during Ramadan
Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan (Source: US Marshals Service)
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A warning from the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office about possible backlash to the Muslim community after two Iraqi refugees allegedly tried to help Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Authorities say the two men were living in Bowling Green, Kentucky and are now charged with terrorism plotting. The FBI says they've had their eye on the two men since 2009. Officials say the alleged plots were never actually carried out and there were no plans for attacks in the U.S.
"This is an indictment that charges two individuals," said U.S. Attorney David Hale. "It does not indict a religious community or a religious faith."
The U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI made it clear Tuesday, that the arrest and indictment against 23-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan were not a reflection of Muslims in Kentucky or the United States.
Of the 23 charges in the indictment, Alwan is accused of conspiring to kill Americans living abroad. And both men are accused of providing material support to terrorists.
Dr. G.A. Shareef, a Muslim living in Louisville, spoke out to let people know that a vast majority of Muslims here in Kentucky do not support terrorism.
"Islam is a peaceful religion, Islam means peace," said Dr. Shareef. "Violence is prohibited especially revenge violence."
Because of Tuesday's announcement those involved in the investigation raised concerns about possible backlash in the Muslim community.
"Post 9-11, there were a number of civil rights violations attacks on our Muslim community," said FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Fries. "While this is Kentucky and I think people are generally more kind, there is concerns about retaliation against anyone within the community."
According to the Kentucky Office of Refugees, since 2007 there are well over 1,000 refugees from Iraq living in Kentucky. More than 700 live in Louisville and more than 250 in Bowling Green. Both Alwan and Hammadi moved to Bowling Green in 2009. It's still not known why they chose Kentucky.
While the two men are in the hands of U.S. Marshals, the FBI wants to send out a warning.
"Certainly we have jurisdiction in the civil rights arena and will very vigorously pursue anyone who targets the Muslim community in response to these indictments," said Fries.
A refugee can become a permanent resident of the U.S. and they are offered services including housing assistance, medical care, help with finding a job and are taught English.
If Alwan and Hammadi are convicted, they will serve out their sentence here in the United States. Once they do that, they could be deported back to Iraq.
Homeland Security said the men slipped through the cracks in the screening process when coming to America.
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