These refugees lied to escape Iraq a decade ago. Now, the U.S. might send them back.
There are eleven, two Iraqi brothers stranded in a refugee camp in Jordan have made a fatal choice, they thought there really was no other option.
Determined not to return to a country where they thought they would kill them, they have obscured their relationship with a third brother, accused of links to terrorism and ultimately linked to the abduction of a contractor from the United States and others in Iraq.
The brothers, with their wives and children, were admitted to the United States. During the last decade, a life was constructed in Fairfax, Virginia, by finding work and making friends, doing picnics and visiting the zoo. Each brother has two children born in the United States.
Now 35-year-old Yousif al-Mashhadani, his brother Adil Hasan, 39, and wife of Ibrahim Hasan Enas, 32, were sentenced in a federal court in Alexandria to fraud charges. With three people at risk of expulsion, friends and supporters say a good family is being torn apart and asks to be allowed to stay in the country.
“Justice supports compassion in this case,” said Marie Monsen, who has worked with refugees as a church volunteer, wrote in a letter to the court.
Federal prosecutors said they were following the case in the hope of catching Majid al-Mashhadani, who according to the government participated in the abduction and had been released from prison in Iraq after only a few years.
However, the authorities have given no indication that the three refugees have provided useful information on Majid’s crime or death.
“I’m not sure how anything has been done,” said Ibrahim’s lawyer, Lana Manitta. “I do not think they’re any closer to getting the answers they need.”
[Iraqi refugees in Virginia accused of hiding links with a kidnapper to enter the United States]
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema last month sentenced the brothers to only three months in prison for their crimes, but acknowledged that they would be transferred immediately to immigration custody.
“This is a tragic case,” he told the court. “However, the law is what it is.”
He wondered why Ibrahim, who has not been convicted, was targeted. She was heavily persecuted to encourage her husband and her brother to give information about the abduction and torture of a US citizen, “said Deputy Attorney General Gordon Kromberg.
He said he was also an “accomplice” in the decision to lie before a UN agency.
The brothers and their families have fled Iraq in 2006, when sectarian violence in the country was at its height.
When the family arrived in Jordan, Ibrahim was pregnant with his first child. She and her sister, Rashad, wife of Yousif al-Mashhadani, both had their first child in the refugee camp.
Upon pleading guilty, Hasan explained his fear of being sent back to Iraq.
“I am Sunni, and they will kill me for Sunnis because I was working in the Green Zone,” he said. “The Shiites are going to kill me because I’m a Sunni.”
The two brothers had worked for an anti-corruption agency with US support. In Iraq at the time known as the Commission on Public Integrity. Dozens of his colleagues were killed because of the investigations being carried out.
In court, Hasan said he personally knew 56 people who died. According to court documents, 65 members of the supervisory agency were killed.
Arthur Brennan, who worked on corruption in Iraq at the State Department in 2007, wrote to the judge that the Iraqis were involved in law enforcement at the time were “in an extremely dangerous situation.”