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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Iraqi native admits to lying about family ties to ISIS during Conn. naturalization proceeding

    An Iraqi native living in New Haven has pleaded guilty to making false statements about his brothers’ ties to ISIS during a citizenship interview.

    Mohamed Najm Kamash, also known as Mohamed Najm Mohamed Ali Kamash, appeared in court in Hartford on Monday and admitted to lying about whether or not he knew or was related to terrorists during a citizenship interview, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

    Kamash, born in Iraq in 199I, has lived in Connecticut since immigrating to the United States in 2014. He obtained lawful permanent resident status, known as a “green card,” in 2016, and applied for permanent residence in 2015, according to an affidavit.

    As part of that application, he signed forms and gave written statements under oath that stated he had no ties to terrorist organizations. He told the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that he had never known anyone involved with any insurgency groups or terrorist organizations.

    Messages exchanged on Facebook between Kamash and his brothers, however, showed otherwise, federal officials said.

    An FBI special agent wrote in an affidavit for Kamash that he believed Kamash lied on the forms he filled out for citizenship and in a subsequent interview and has ties to the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

    “I believe Kamash is associated with a terror organization through his family members, specifically through his brothers,” the agent wrote in the affidavit.  “And that that Kamash, while under oath, denied to USCIS that he was associated with a terror organization.”

    During his interviews, Kamash identified his two brothers as Ahmed Najm Mohammed Ali Kamash, known as Ahmed, and Ali Najm Mohammed Ali Kamash, known as Ali, court records show.

    Kamash told officials that his brother Ahmed was killed by a bomb while playing soccer in Iraq in 2015 or 2016. He also said he was not in contact with his brother Ali, who he said resides with his father in Iraq.

    He told the USCIS that he had never known anyone involved with any insurgency groups or terrorist organizations and “omitted any mention that Ahmed and Ali were affiliated with the ISIS terror group,” according to the affidavit.

    Investigators obtained a search warrant for Facebook messages changed between Kamash and his brothers, many of which Kamash deleted from his own history. In messages dated September 2014, Ahmed allegedly told Kamash that he “had joined the ISIS terrorist group and that they had given him a gun,” according to the affidavit.

    Amen then allegedly sent a photo of a pistol, magazine and bullets and in another message told his brother Ali that he had joined ISIS and that they gave him a pistol, the affidavit said.

    Ahmed also allegedly sent messages to Ali stating that he was in Ramadi, Iraq, which at the time was under ISIS control.

    Ahmed was killed in 2016, according to the affidavit, and investigators saw a photo Kamash posted as his profile photo of he and Ahmed.

    The FBI agent wrote in the affidavit that he his investigation showed that Ahmed “was killed in 2016 while fighting as an ISIS militant in (or near) then ISlS-occupied Ramadi, Iraq.”

    After his death, Kamash was part of a group message that investigators reviewed after obtaining a search warrant for Facebook messages. In that group chat, memorial photos and videos were posted for Ahmed, showing Ahmed “posing with or next to assault rifles, firing assault rifles, and posing with heavy machine guns,” the affidavit said.

    At the end of a memorial video, “the flag used by the ISIS terrorist group was displayed,” the agent wrote.

    Then, in March 2016, their other brother Ali allegedly messaged Kamash that “he intended to fight, as Ahmed had, on behalf of the ISIS terror organization,” court records show.

    “Kamash had knowledge of his brother Ali’s association with the ISIS terror organization as early as May 1, 2016,” the agent wrote.

    On Aug. 17, 2021, Kamash participated in a USCIS interview in Hartford for his pending Application of Naturalization. During the interview with a USCIS agent, Kamash “knowingly and falsely stated that he did not know anyone involved with a terrorist organization and that no member of his family was involved with a terrorist organization,” federal officials said.

    Kamash was arrested on a criminal complaint on May 5, 2022. The incident was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    Kamash pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal with an agreed upon sentence of zero to six months in prison. Without a deal, he faced up to five years in prison, according to federal officials.

    Kamash also faces a fine ranging from $500 to $ 9,500 and is subject to a supervised release term of one to three years, federal officials said. He has been released on a $250,000 bond pending his sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.

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