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Alleged Al-Qaeda leader arrested in Arizona living in US since possibly 2008

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Released)
February 03, 2020

The suspected leader of an Al-Qaeda group in Al-Fallujah, Iraq was found in Phoenix, Ariz. on Thursday and arrested on charges in connection to the 2006 murders of two Iraqi police officers.

Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri, 42, who was described as a resident in the Phoenix area, appeared before a federal magistrate judge on Friday and now faces extradition to Iraq, according to a Department of Justice press release.

“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,” according the DOJ’s statement.

The Iraqi government requested Ahmed be arrested and then extradited to the U.S., based on its treaty obligations to the country.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Z. Boyle, who presided over the case, issued a warrant for Ahmed on Jan. 29, 2020. Ahmed was reportedly arrested the following day.

The charges against Ahmed are allegations and his case will proceed before Boyle. If the court certifies an extradition request for Ahmed, the decision will go along to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to determine whether or not to surrender Ahmed to the Iraqi government.

The FBI Phoenix Field Office, The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Phoenix Field Office and the U.S. Marshals Service helped in the arrest. The extradition case will be handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

Ahmed entered the U.S. in January of 2008, claiming refugee status, according to the Associated Press. He had been in the U.S. for more than a decade and had recently married and had a child.

Jabir Algarawi, a board member of the Phoenix-based refugee organization Refugees and Immigrants Community for Empowerment, said he met Ahmed in 2010.

“He said he had 20 bullets in his body,” Algawari said. “He said he had been shot 20 times in the face and arms and legs.”

Algawari said he was “very shocked” to learn of the charges against Ahmed. Algawari indicated Ahmed had not shown signs of extremism in the time he had known the man.

“He’s not religious. He was always out partying, drinking. He does not seem to me to be a person with an extremist background,” Algawari said of Ahmed.

Ahmed reportedly became a driving instructor and started a driving school after coming to the U.S.

Omar Muhialdin, the owner of a Middle Eastern restaurant near Ahmed’s driving school, said it was hard to believe the allegations one of his regular customers belonged to a terrorist group.

“Ali drinks a lot. Ali likes to dance. He’s not religious,” Muhialdin said, echoing Algawari’s earlier skepticism of Ahmed’s reported religious fundamentalism.