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The Outrageous Case of Omar Ameen

Ben Taub has written an exhaustive report on the case of Omar Ameen, an Iraqi refugee living in the U.S. who was falsely accused of a murder in Iraq that he could not have possibly committed. Taub’s report makes clear that Mr. Ameen has been railroaded by our government and that the so-called evidence against him is untrue, but it is still likely that he will be extradited back to Iraq where his life will be in danger:

On December 4th, some two dozen federal employees from the F.B.I., the D.H.S., the State Department, and the Justice Department filed into a courtroom in Sacramento for Ameen’s extradition hearing. Wittingly or not, they and their departments have been co-opted into a campaign to extradite an innocent man to almost certain death, in order to make a racist talking point appear to be slightly less of a fiction.

The key point in the story is that committing the crime would have been physically impossible for Mr. Ameen, who was residing in Turkey and in the middle of his refugee application process at the time. The victims’ parents have also stated that Ameen is innocent of the crime. Ameen is the victim of a false accusation that seems to have been spread by someone with a vendetta against his family, and that false accusation was then accepted at face value and reproduced by American and Iraqi officials. By all other accounts, Ameen has been a law-abiding refugee who fled Iraq because he was in fear for his life, and now he is about to be sent back because of outrageous lies.

The government is aware of evidence that provides Ameen with an alibi, but they have kept that evidence secret on spurious national security grounds:

“The government is vehement that we not disclose this fact on the public docket,” Galloway replied. He held his head in his hands. “I—I—I cannot believe this argument is being made. I just can’t. There’s nothing about that sentence that jeopardizes national security. It jeopardizes their case.”

Hemesath’s secret filing reveals that, “subsequent to the arrest of Ameen, the United States came into possession of potentially exculpatory alibi information.” The evidence, which appears to have been collected as part of a surveillance operation on an unwitting target, reveals that “an individual believed to have been co-located with Ameen in Turkey during the pertinent timeframe claims that Ameen never left Turkey.”

There is simply no way that Ameen could have done what he is accused of:

Barbour interviewed more witnesses in Brussels and Istanbul, then went to the immigration office in Mersin. Ameen and his Iraqi friends were required to sign in each Thursday; failure to do so would have put at risk not only their resettlement applications but their legal status in Turkey. The office provided her scans of Ameen’s sign-ins, narrowing the window of time to commit the murder to a logistical impossibility. “To win the literal lottery of life and then say, ‘Great, let me put all that at risk so I can travel more than six hundred miles across Syria and Iraq and kill a guy first’—it doesn’t make any sense,” a former C.I.A. officer, who spent years working in Iraq, told me. “At that point in time, to get through that many checkpoints in Syria, you’d have to have separate fixers for dealing with the Turks, the Free Syrian Army, various other rebel groups, and then ISIS—and that’s before you even get to Anbar, which is, you know, hostile. You’d have to bribe or shoot your way through certain fucking death a thousand times, there and back.”

There is very little time before the decision on Ameen’s extradition will be made:

Hemesath has asked Brennan to certify extradition immediately. He has given Barbour and Galloway until January 29th to present their final argument, after which he will issue his ruling. “I feel like we’re watching Omar’s murder in slow motion,” Galloway said.

The government’s treatment of Omar Ameen has already been a disgrace, and if they send him back to Iraq they are condemning an innocent man to death. It is horrifying to consider how easily this man’s life has been wrecked by false charges and inept investigators.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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