U.S. Refugee Arrested on Allegations That He Committed Murder in Iraq as Member of ISIS

Eliza Grinberg's picture

On August 15, 2018 (updated on Aug. 16), the Sacramento Bee reported that an Iraqi man who was residing in the Sacramento, California, after being granted refugee status, was arrested by FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents on charges that he killed an Iraqi police officer in 2014 as a member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) [link].1

Abdulsatter Ameen, now 45 years of age, arrived in Turkey from Iraq in 2012. He applied for refugee status in 2012. In his application, he claimed that his father had been killed in retaliation for his cooperation with U.S. forces. However, Federal authorities allege that this was a lie, stating in court documents that his father actually died of a cerebral clot in 2010. Furthermore, court documents allege that Ameen deliberately omitted his terrorist activities.

On June 5, 2014, Ameen was approved to come to the United States as a refugee. However, court documents state that he first returned to Iraq, where he personally killed an Iraqi police officer as part of an ISIS operation. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to the United States, where he was admitted in refugee status.

In February 2016, Ameen was interviewed by federal agents. In that interview, court documents recount that he stated that he had never killed anyone, used weapons against anyone, or belonged to violent group.

However, the court documents detail Ameen's alleged extensive terroristic associations and acts, asserting that he was a member of al-Qaeda in Iraq since at least 2004, prior to fighting for ISIS. They added that “he is not known to have ever renounced his membership in either group.” They state that as a member of both al-Qaeda in Ira and ISIS, he engaged in many violent terroristic activities in addition to killing the Iraqi police officer in 2014, including other acts of murder and planting improvised explosive devises (IEDs).

The Iraqi Government is seeking the extradition of Ameen so he can stand trial in Iraq on murder charges. If extradited, Ameen would face the death penalty in Iraq if he is convicted.

It is important to note that the allegations in the court documents are still just that. However, if substantiated, the admission of Ameen as a refugee would represent one of the most serious breaches of the U.S. refugee system to date, and calls for answers to serious questions regarding how he was able to successfully conceal his identity and how something like this can be prevented from happening again.


  1. Stanton, Sam, Darrell Smith, and Julia Sclafani. “Suspected ISIS member arrested in Sacramento County, allegedly committed 'most heinous crimes.'” The Sacramento Bee. Aug. 16, 2018. https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article216764535.html
U.S. Refugee Arrested on Allegations That He Committed Murder in Iraq as Member of ISIS