ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two Iraqi refugees living in Northern Virginia were arrested Tuesday morning and charged, along with another individual, with immigration fraud. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Yousif Al Mashhandani (“Yousif”), 35, of Vienna, and Adil Hasan, 38, of Burke, who are full biological brothers, and Enas Ibrahim, 32, also of Burke, who is the wife of Hasan, are all charged with attempting to obtain naturalization contrary to law.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, on Nov. 1, 2004, a U.S. citizen, identified as R.H., was kidnapped in Iraq and held with other hostages for months in horrible conditions in an underground bunker. In 2005, a raid freed the hostages, and authorities detained Majid Al Mashhadani (“Majid”), who is a full biological brother of Yousif and Adil Hasan, and he admitted his complicity in the kidnapping of R.H.
Yousif was admitted into the United States as a refugee in 2008. In May 2013, Yousif resided in Vienna and applied for naturalization as a U.S. citizen. In connection with Yousif’s applications for citizenship, his fingerprints were taken. According to an FBI fingerprint specialist, analysis conducted in November 2013 determined that Yousif’s fingerprints matched those found on a document at the underground bunker where forces rescued R.H. and others in Iraq in 2005.
Yousif, Hasan and Ibrahim are lawful permanent residents and have applied to naturalize and become U.S. citizens. On various applications and forms throughout their respective immigration processes, each has provided an extensive list of family members and information of their respective family trees; however, none ever listed any reference to Majid.
On March 4, 2016, FBI agents interviewed Yousif, Hasan and Ibrahim. When FBI agents asked Yousif why he failed to include reference to Majid on the family tree form, Yousif said he omitted reference to Majid because, when he was a refugee, he was told by others applying for refugee status that he would not be allowed into the United States if any immediate family members had a criminal background. Hasan admitted to FBI agents that Majid was his brother, and Hasan and Ibrahim each admitted they discussed not including Majid’s name on their applications for refugee status because their connection to Majid might delay their ability to gain such status.
To justify his application for refugee status, Yousif reported that in 2006, while working as an anti-corruption investigator for the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity in Iraq, he started receiving threats from a Shiite militia known as the "Al Mahdi Militia," in order to coerce Yousif to drop a particular corruption investigation. Yousif said that in May 2006 Adil was kidnapped by the Al Mahdi Militia, and only released after Yousif arranged to drop the investigation in question and helped pay a large ransom. Yousif said that after Adil was released, he reopened the corruption investigation, only to flee to Jordon in October 2006 after his parents’ house was burned down.
To justify his application for refugee status, Hasan provided sworn testimony that, in 2006, he had been kidnapped and tortured by members of the Al Mahdi Army and held for nearly a month. Hasan said he was released upon the payment of a ransom of $20,000. In an interview by FBI agents in April 2016, Hasan said he was threatened in Iraq on two occasions, but made no mention of being kidnapped, held hostage and tortured for nearly a month. In a subsequent interview in October 2016, FBI agents confronted Hasan about the discrepancy in his stories and Hasan admitted to making false statements and creating his persecution story.
Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.