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Human Rights Violators
12/20/2016

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Bosnian national arrested for fraudulently obtaining citizenship

Man allegedly lied to federal authorities about his involvement in human rights atrocities during Balkans conflict

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A resident of Crown Point, Indiana, was arrested Monday near Kalamazoo, Michigan, by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) after being indicted on a felony charge of having fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship after he emigrated from Bosnia-Herzegovina to the United States.

The charges resulted from an investigation by HSI and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC).

The indictment alleges that Alexander Kneginich, 56, told a series of lies to U.S. immigration authorities in the course of obtaining authority to enter the United States that enabled him to subsequently get permanent-resident status and ultimately attain U.S. citizenship.  The indictment further charges that Kneginich knowingly failed to disclose in his applications for status in the United States  that he had served in Bosnian Serb Army units during the Balkans conflict of the early 1990s; that he knowingly failed to disclose in those applications that he had been charged, jailed and tried in Bosnia for the 1994 murders of two Muslim civilians; and that he falsely stated that he had never lied to U.S. immigration authorities to obtain immigration benefits.

“Cases where people lie about their past in order to cheat the nation’s immigration system are among HSI’s highest investigative priorities,” said Steve Francis, acting special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. “As an agency, these cases take particular precedence when the individual’s past may include human-rights violations.”

“For persons who immigrate into the United States, citizenship is the brass ring,” stated U.S. Attorney Pat Miles of the Western District of Michigan. “This office will zealously pursue any case where that prized status appears to have been obtained through fraud and deceit.”

HSI investigated the case with the assistance of officials in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Trial Attorney Jamie Perry of DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank of the Western District of Michigan are prosecuting the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance in this matter.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact HSI by calling the toll-free tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199.  They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov or complete ICE's online tip form.

Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 375 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders for and physically removed more than 815 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 140 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,735 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries. Over the last four years, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,350 lookouts for individuals from more than 111 countries and stopped 194 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the United States.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/27/2016