U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared in federal court records filed Tuesday that certain evidence in a terrorism case against two Iraqi refugees who had been living in Bowling Green would harm national security if disclosed publicly.
Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell to review evidence obtained through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. They also asked Russell not to turn over that information to defense attorneys representing Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, and to deny a defense motion to suppress that evidence.
Defense attorneys for the two men have asked the court to order the disclosure of evidence against the men obtained through FISA, to suppress that evidence from being used against the men and to hold an adversary hearing on the motion to suppress the evidence.
In his declaration to the court, Holder said the U.S. is submitting relevant classified documents to the court as part of a sealed exhibit so that Russell may review the documents “in camera,” which means in the privacy of his chambers, to determine the legality of evidence obtained through FISA and the means used to obtain that evidence.
“The FISA materials contain sensitive and classified information concerning the United States intelligence sources and methods and other information related to efforts of the United States to conduct counterterrorism investigations, including the manner and means by which those investigations are conducted,” Holder wrote. “As a result, the unauthorized disclosure of the information could harm the national security interests of the United States.”
It is not clear exactly what evidence the defense seeks or that the prosecution wants to withhold from public view. The classified materials were redacted from the 40-page prosecution motion.
FISA allows law enforcement roving wiretap authority and access to certain business records.
Alwan and Hammadi have pleaded not guilty to the charges in a 23-count federal indictment that accuses them of attempting to support terrorism in Iraq. Federal authorities arrested them May 25 in Bowling Green. A federal grand jury indicted both May 26. Alwan is charged in all 23 counts. Hammadi is charged in 10 counts.
Alwan is accused of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals overseas, conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals overseas, distributing information on how to manufacture and use improvised explosive devices, attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaida in Iraq, and conspiring to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al-Qaida in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess and export Stinger missiles.
In January, the FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center identified two latent fingerprints that belonged to Alwan in a component of an unexploded improvised explosive device that U.S. military personnel found in Bayji, Iraq, in September 2005, according to federal court records. Alwan worked in a power plant in Bayji at that time.
Alwan lived in public housing on Gordon Avenue with his wife and children and worked for a friend in a supermarket. Alwan entered the U.S. in April 2009 and settled in Bowling Green. By September of that year, the FBI was investigating him.
Hammadi lived in government-subsidized housing on Flanigan Court. He worked for Perdue Chicken until about two months before his arrest. Hammadi entered the country in July 2009 in Las Vegas and moved to Bowling Green in December 2009.