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How Did an Al Qaeda Leader in Iraq Become an American Citizen Living in Phoenix?

AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

In January the FBI arrested Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri in Phoenix, Arizona after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Al-Nouri was an Al Qaeda leader in Iraq and was on the run for the murder of Iraqi police officers in Al-Fallujah. 

"According to the information provided by the Government of Iraq in support of its extradition request, Ahmed served as the leader of a group of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Al-Fallujah, Iraq, which planned operations targeting Iraqi police.  Ahmed and other members of the Al-Qaeda group allegedly shot and killed a first lieutenant in the Fallujah Police Directorate and a police officer in the Fallujah Police Directorate, on or about June 1, 2006, and October 3, 2006, respectively," the Department of Justice released in a statement. 

Despite his fugitive status and role as a leader for Al Qaeda, Al-Nouri was admitted to the United States in 2008 as a refugee. He then went on to become an American citizen. Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst want to know why. 

"Please explain the vetting process through which Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri received a refugee visa. Was Ahmed Al-Nouri ever subjected to additional screening associated with the refugee visa application? Was Ahmed Al-Nouri vetted through the Visa Security Program and was a Security Advisory Opinion ever requested and/or issued?" Grassley and Ernst wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week. "Did Ahmed Al-Nouri ever apply for any other U.S. visa before being granted a refugee visa? Did Ahmed Al-Nouri apply for visas using any aliases?"

The Senators also want to know when Al-Nouri came to the attention of the FBI, considering he lived in the United States for more than a decade. 

The Iraqi government is requesting he be extradited in order to stand trial for murder. 

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