Bond Hearing Held for Sacramento Resident Facing Possible Deportation


By Catherine Potente and Michele Chadwick

LOS ANGELES, CA–A bond hearing was held this week for Omar Ameen, a man facing deportation to Iraq and possible torture upon arrival—the hearing will continue throughout the week for Ameen, who’s been in custody, from jails to ICE holding centers, for about four years.

The bond hearing was court ordered to shift the burden from Ameen needing to prove that he is not a flight risk to the government needing to prove that the defendant is a danger and flight risk.

Ameen has a series of wins in federal court against the U.S., which is adamant about sending him to Iraq. A recent judge ruling found he cannot be deported right now.

Ameen’s defense has suggested the U.S. is hiding the reasons why it is pursuing Ameen, whose family is in Sacramento.

“I am truly stunned by what I am seeing in this case. I have never seen a situation like this in which the Government is so committed to ignoring anything that contradicts its flimsy case. DHS (Dept. of Health Services) in every way simply ignores that Omar was exonerated by the District Court in Sacramento,” said Assistant Federal Defender Rachelle Barbour about the case this past years.

“And they try to pretend that he was never falsely accused of the murder by the very witnesses that they cite in their documents.  It’s a real sleight of hand by the Government, to try to distract from Omar’s exoneration by simply pretending it didn’t happen,” added Barbour.

“DHS clearly stated its intention to try to fix the massive factual problems in this case by calling FBI Special Agents and others as witnesses to tell a heavily abridged story.  They certainly are not planning to call any of the supremely flawed and incredible Iraqi witnesses that story rests upon,” Barbour said.

Ameen’s immigration attorney told the court last year at another hearing that Ameen “never interacted with or knew any members of El Qaeda in Iraq” or similar groups, as charged by the government, “never” committed or helped anyone commit any crime, “never” engaged in or conspired or incited sabotage, kidnapping, hijacking or other forms of terrorism, among the 11 counts Ameen is charged with, including that he lied to enter the U.S. in 2014.

She suggested that Biden Administration officials have said they are going to “limit ICE targets and detainees” but “ICE is doing as it pleases. There is no accountability. We must hold ICE accountable. He faces torture and death (if he is deported) We will aggressively fight for him.”

The attorneys for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called Lieutenant Adrian Medina, an intelligence officer for the United States Navy, as their first witness of the day.

Lieutenant Medina stated his job is to gather and process information from multiple sources that can be validated and evaluated to make sure that it is factually correct. The witness continued to state that his testimony was based on finished product intelligence, data that has been evaluated as factual.

The witness first became aware of the Ameen family in 2005, he said, adding the Ameen family has accumulated wealth and power over business and operations in the Al Anbar region of Iraq after Ameen’s father swore allegiance to the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq at the time. 

Lieutenant Medina testified that Ameen’s father was the “first tribal leader in Al Anbar to declare his allegiance.” However, Medina was unable to give a specific name of the sub tribe that he was the leader of. He also testified that all of Ameen’s sons swore allegiance after their father did.

Medina could not confirm nor deny if anyone observed Omar Ameen swearing allegiance and Medina was unable to discuss any actions that represented this allegiance.

Medina stated that the family shifted their allegiance to ISIS when ISIS moved to Iraq and eastern Syria. The witness noted that Ameen’s family members held powerful positions within ISIS, contributing to why Ameen was able to travel in and out of Iraq.

“The likelihood of anybody being able to travel in and out of Iraq or Syria into Turkey was nonexistent unless you were a high-level ISIS member,” stated Medina.

In 2015, the witness said he learned that Ameen had disappeared because he died. This seemed odd to Medina because Ameen was still communicating with his family members, leading the witness to believe there was something bigger happening.

When DHS attorneys inquired if Lieutenant Medina had specific evidence of Ameen’s involvement in ISIS, the lieutenant expressed his frustration, stating, “Yes and unfortunately that’s something that’s frustrating to me, man. I have a huge amount of information, but due to classification it wasn’t able to be presented and it’s without reasonable doubt the information that I have because it’s validated so many times to ensure the accuracy.”

Medina testified that he believes Ameen has the resources and contacts to be dangerous and stated that he was scared to testify, fearing the safety of his own family.

During further questioning, Medina testified that he was unable to observe the male family members of the Ameen family because “they were in hiding… we knew that ’cause we were looking for them. They weren’t staying at their normal house. They were hiding out at the farms.”

When asked if the Navy was tracking the Ameen family currently, Lieutenant Medina said he could not confirm or deny who was tracking them and he could not confirm if they were currently free or in custody.

When questioned about how he observed Omar Ameen, during the period that Medina was in Iraq and Ameen was not, Medina was unable to answer because those means are classified.

However, Lieutenant Medina did discuss observing Omar Ameen’s Facebook page. When questioned further, Medina discussed how Ameen had friends on Facebook that were ISIS members.

He said, “When conducting analysis on all the reporting, I need to validate that he is in fact a member of ISIS. I can look at who’s left comments on his Facebook and look into them. If they happen to be ISIS then that helps support the information that he was with other members of ISIS. It helps corroborate information that we have by showing other links.”

NorCal Resist organizer and attorney Autumn Gonzalez in Sacramento told THE VANGUARD that the “nonsensical” immigration system is a large part of the problem.

“Omar’s case highlights how nonsensical and prone to error our immigration system is. When families are separated, and parents taken from their children in this way, extreme financial and emotional stress is placed on immigrant families. Families that have already had to flee their homelands to find safety are being subjected to trauma by the country that was supposed to be a safe haven.

“We’re calling on the Biden administration to end immigration detention—in public or private facilities—and, of course, to return Omar to his family immediately,” Gonzalez said.

About The Author

Michele is a senior at UC Santa Barbara from Los Angles County.

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