The real story behind the Bowling Green terrorists

This week, in trying to justify the travel ban the US government recently implemented, one of President Donald Trump’s top White House advisers referred to the “Bowling Green Massacre” — a terror attack that never happened.

During an interview with MSNBC, Kellyanne Conway described two Iraqi refugees coming to the US, becoming radicalized, and masterminding an attack.

Conway admitted Friday that she erred in referring to the nonexistent attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that she said was one of the catalysts for Trump’s executive order temporarily barring entry to the US by nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries.

She clarified that she was referring to an incident involving two Iraqi refugees in Kentucky.

In that case, the two Iraqi nationals were indicted on federal terrorism charges accusing them, in part, of providing material support to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

The Iraqi nationals were Waad Ramadan Alwan, who was 30 at the time of his indictment in 2011, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, who was then 23.

The FBI launched its investigation into Alwan in 2009, the year he entered the US. He bragged to an FBI source in 2010 about how he’d “f — ked up” US Hummers in Iraq with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and expressed an interest in providing support to terrorists in Iraq. He eventually recruited his friend Hammadi into his scheme to ship money and weapons (including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, Stinger missiles, and C4 plastic explosives) to terrorists in Iraq.

The operation was a sting operation — the FBI’s source convinced Alwan and Hammadi that the money and weapons were actually going to terrorists abroad, but they were not.

Alwan and Hammadi entered the US as refugees. They lied about their terrorism ties.

After they were arrested, they admitted to using IEDs against US soldiers in Iraq and attempting to send money and weapons to Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terror group that later morphed into ISIS, according to the Department of Justice.

Alwan was charged with conspiracy to kill US nationals abroad, distributing information on the manufacture and use of IEDs, attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to Al Qaeda in Iraq (the group that later morphed into ISIS), and conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles, according to the FBI.

Hammadi was charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to Al Qaeda in Iraq, conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles, and making a false statement on an immigration application.

Alwan was sentenced to 40 years in prison and Hammadi was sentenced to life. Both pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

At the time of their sentencing, David Hale, the US Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, called Alwan and Hammadi “experienced terrorists who willingly and enthusiastically participated in what they believed were insurgent support operations designed to harm American soldiers in Iraq.”

But while Conway used their arrests to explain why Trump’s temporary travel ban is necessary to keep Americans safe, neither Alwan nor Hammadi were charged with plotting attacks in the US.

Hale also noted after Alwan and Hammadi were arrested that it was “not an indictment against a particular religious community or religion.”

Bryan Logan contributed to this report.

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