Alabama man who lied about Iraqi military record stripped of U.S. citizenship. He claimed to be victim of Saddam Hussein. He actually worked for him.

Published 5:35 pm Thursday, February 27, 2020

An Iraqi man who lied about being a victim of Saddam Hussein’s regime and was resettled in Alabama and granted U.S. Citizenship, had that stripped this week by a federal court. The man was, in fact, part of Hussein’s regime, not a victim of it.

United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama, announces that Colonel Saad Taha Ahmed Yousif al-Qaysy was sentenced to three years of probation and stripped of his United States citizenship after being convicted of lying to obtain his citizenship.

Ahmed was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1958. He earned a degree in electrical engineering in the early 1980s, and then was conscripted into the Iraqi Army in 1983 during the Iran-Iraq War. After his mandatory service was complete in 1985, Ahmed joined the Iraqi Army as a First Lieutenant in the al-Quds Reconnaissance Brigade. Thereafter, the Army sent Ahmed to a university in Yugoslavia to gain Serbian and Russian language skills.

After returning to Iraq, Ahmed rose up the ranks as an Iraqi Army officer. He served as a Captain in the 10th Armored Division during the Invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War, and as a Colonel during the 2003 Iraq War. Ahmed’s twenty-year military career ended when Coalition Forces disbanded the Iraqi Army on May 23, 2003. During his final two years in the Iraqi Army, Ahmed was assigned to two public hospitals as a senior military officer. This is significant because the Saddam Hussein regime used public hospitals at this time for dual purposes — treatment centers for the sick and injured, and torture sites for political prisoners and military deserters.

Following the dissolution of the Iraqi Army, Ahmed claimed that he worked for an American military contractor in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. However, the military contractor has no record of Ahmed. Furthermore, a letter of recommendation purportedly from Ahmed’s direct supervisor at the military contractor, which was later submitted to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, had been forged.

After Ahmed’s brother and nephew were killed in sectarian violence in 2006, Ahmed fled from the Baghdad region to northern Iraq and then to Giza, Egypt. While in Egypt, Ahmed and other former senior Iraqi military officers discussed the need to hide the true nature and extent of their military careers in order to be admitted as refugees into the United States.

In 2009, Ahmed applied for refugee status via the United States Refugee Admissions Program.

In his application, Ahmed falsely claimed that he only served in the Iraqi Army for a brief period in the 1980s as a conscript during the Iran-Iraq War. Ahmed’s refugee application was approved in January 2010, and he was admitted into the United States as a refugee fleeing the war in Iraq. Thereafter, Ahmed was approved for refugee resettlement and placed in Mobile, Alabama.

In 2011, Ahmed adjusted his status from refugee to legal permanent resident. Once again, Ahmed lied about the nature and extent of his military service, and falsely claimed that he was merely an electrical engineer working on a base in Baghdad from 1987 to 1991. Ahmed further claimed that his military service ended just prior to the Invasion of Kuwait, when, in fact, he was a Captain in the 10th Armored Division during the invasion.

Finally, in April 2015, Ahmed applied for United States citizenship. In his citizenship application, Ahmed perpetuated the false narrative that he was simply an electrical engineer forced to join the Iraqi Army during the Iran-Iraq War. Ahmed was officially sworn in as a United States citizen on July 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.

In November 2019, Ahmed pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Alabama to knowingly and intentionally procuring United States citizenship through fraudulent means, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a). By statute, being convicted of this offense results in the denaturalization of the defendant at the time of sentencing.

Following his sentencing and denaturalization on February 21, 2020, Ahmed was taken into custody by immigration officials. An Immigration Judge will now determine whether Ahmed will lose his status as a legal permanent resident, and whether he will be deported to Iraq.

This matter was investigated by FBI-Mobile’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Bodnar.