Mohanad Shareef Hammadi

Back to Database
Vetting Year
Time from U.S. Entry to Discovery
1 year, 7 months
National Security Crime Type
Nationality of Perpetrator
Immigration Status Type
Refugee classification
Agency Responsible for Failure
USCIS for Refugee classification
Opportunities Missed
Nation(s) Vetting Occurred
Arresting Agency
Criminal Charges
Material support to terrorists and to al-Qaeda in Iraq, conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles.
Case Outcome
Convicted 08/2012 for material support for terrorism
Case Summary

Iraqi national Mohanad Shareef Hammadi entered the United States in July 2009 on a refugee visa he obtained as a result of his March 1, 2009, application in a refugee camp in Syria. As part of the process, he underwent security screening for past involvement in violent, anti-American jihadist groups.

But that security screening failed to uncover that Hammadi had participated in approximately 10 bombing attacks on American troops and convoys in at least two different terrorist cells in Iraq, including one for al-Qaeda, before Iraqi forces arrested him for one of the attacks. He later told undercover FBI informants that he bribed his way out of jail and fled to Syria, where he claimed to be a regular war refugee in applying for a U.S. immigration visa, court records show. Hammadi admitted at one point to being a member of the “Tandheem”, a common insider euphemism for al Qaeda in Iraq.

Instead of a refugee application denial based on discovery of all this, the USCIS green light enabled Hammadi to enter the United States and settle in Las Vegas with the help of Catholic Charities and then, on his friend Waad Ramadan Alwan’s recommendation, in Bowling Green, Ky., to work in local poultry factories. About a year later, in December 2010, Hammadi attempted to paper over his terrorist past again in an application for a green card. But by the next month, the FBI was already onto his terrorist past, and security vetting became unnecessary.

In January 2011, his friend Alwan, who was by then deeply engaged in what he believed was a weapons-supply operation to al Qaeda, recruited Hammadi and presented him to the undercover FBI informant – truthfully – as a battle-tested jihadist insurgent who was eager to continue helping the movement from the United States.

In what became known as the “Bowling Green, Ky.” terrorism plot, Hammadi and Alwan in 2011 shipped on tractor-trailer trucks what they believed were hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of weapons, such as plastic explosives, machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades to al-Qaeda, but which were in reality inert props in an expansive FBI undercover operation. At one point, Hammadi responded with enthusiasm to a suggestion that they ship surface-to-air missiles to al-Qaeda, “given that one of his terrorist cells in Iraq had acquired 11 of them” and did so on two occasions, prosecutors alleged.

Additionally, Hammadi and Alwan plotted to murder a U.S. Army captain they both knew from their time fighting in Iraq.

In January 2013, a federal judge sentenced Hammadi to life in prison on charges of conspiring to kill Americans abroad, shipping weapons to al Qaeda, and immigration fraud.