Audio of Lisa Autry's report on Tuesday's sentencing of Alwan and Hammadi
Two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green who admitted sending weapons and money to Al-Qaeda in Iraq were sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green. Both Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanned Shareef Hamaddi admitted taking part in insurgent activities in Iraq prior to arriving in the U.S. in 2009. Federal authorities found Alwan's fingerprint on an unexploded bomb in Iraq and launched an investigation.
The Iraqi men were arrested in 2011 after they agreed to help a government informant load cash and weapons into a tractor-trailer they were told was destined for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Over the course of five hours, each man separately received his punishment. First to enter the courtroom was the 31-year-old Alwan. Wearing prison orange, he sat next to his interpreter, and appeared unmoved by the piercing stares from the courtroom audience. Justice Department Attorney Larry Schneider said Alwan was interested in becoming the leader of a terrorist cell in the U.S. and that he recruited Hammadi, describing him as "worth his weight in gold," and as an "experienced" insurgent.
A federal judge sentenced one Iraqi man accused of entering into a terrorist plot in Bowling Green to a life sentence in prison, with a second man given a 40 year sentence.
Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi appeared at the William H. Natcher federal courthouse in Bowling Green Tuesday to receive sentencing for a serious of charges related to a plot to send weapons, explosives, and money to Al-Qaida in Iraq.
The 30-year-old Alwan was given 40 years in prison for his role in the plot. He could have received a life sentence, but Judge Thomas B. Russell went along with the recommendation of prosecutors to give a lesser sentence since Alwan cooperated in the case.
Hammadi received a life sentence. The two were arrested in Warren County in 2009.
Both men had previously pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, and conspiracy to send Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Iraq. Alwan and Hammadi also pleaded to making false statements when they applied for admission to the United States as refugees.
The terrorist plot was actually a government sting operation. This led the Iraqis' lawyers to claim they were victims of entrapment.
Join WKU Public Radio Wednesday during Morning Edition for recaps of the sentencing handed down Tuesday in Bowling Green's federal court.
Hoping to avoid a life sentence in prison, one of two Bowling Green Iraqi refugees set to be sentenced Tuesday for attempting to send weapons and cash to al-Qaeda in Iraq is alleging he was entrapped in a U.S. government scheme.
The Louisville Courier-Journal is reporting a lawyer for Mohanad Shareef Hammadi cites a study of more than 500 terrorism prosecutions since 9/11 that found an FBI informant led more than one-third of the plots and provided all the necessary weapons, money and transportation.
In a sentencing memorandum, Hammadi's court appointed lawyer James Earhart says his client was unemployed and had no money, weapons of means of transporting them when he was recruited by a confidential government informant.
Bowling Green police are investigating after an unidentified man robbed Service One Credit Union on the 31-W Bypass in the city Friday afternoon and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Police say the man waited in line behind at least one other customer. When he got to the teller window, he implied he had a gun, demanded money and walked out of the credit union with the cash just before 3 p.m.
He was last seen on foot running south on the bypass.
The suspect is described as a white male in his mid-40s, unshaven and wearing a gray pullover hooded sweatshirt, a blue knit cap and black sunglasses. Police say they do not have any suspects at this time.
This is the second bank robbery this month in Bowling Green. The First Security Bank on Chestnut Street was robbed January 3rd. No arrest has been made in that case.
Bowling Green police have arrested a man for the June robbery of American Bank & Trust on Fairview Avenue who also could be responsible for multiple bank robberies in south central Kentucky and northern Tennessee.
Forty-seven-year-old Steven Paul Harston was arrested Wednesday afternoon on Shive Lane without incident and lodged in the Warren County Regional Jail.
In a written release, Officer Ronnie Ward said BGPD along with the FBI conducted an extensive investigation into other area bank robberies and consider Harston a strong suspect. Their investigation is continuing but they expect other charges to be lodged soon.