VAN NUYS, Calif. (KTXL) — An immigration judge is withholding Omar Ameen’s deportation due to the possibility that he’ll be tortured upon his return to Iraq.
Ameen was arrested in 2018 on charges of allegedly being a terrorist for ISIS and leading a four-vehicle convoy to murder an Iraqi police officer in 2014. According to a press release Monday, the judge rejected the federal government’s claims and ruled that Ameen was not in Iraq at the time of the alleged murder.
In the press release, the judge said: “Indeed, the unreliability of an Iraqi arrest warrant alone is demonstrated by the United States District Court’s order declining to certify Mr. Ameen’s extradition to Iraq, finding the evidence established, Mr. Ameen was not even in Iraq at the time the alleged murder was committed.”
On April 2021, a federal judge refused to allow Ameen to be extradited to Iraq after cell phone evidence showed he was in Turkey at the time of the murder. Ameen fled to Turkey in 2012 and was granted refugee status in the U.S. in 2014, 17 days after the alleged murder.
Prosecutors previously said Ameen returned to Iraq to kill the police officer.
FOX40 previously reported in 2018 that Ameen migrated to the U.S. claiming to be a refugee and being a victim of terrorism before settling in Sacramento. When asked on his I-485 application if he’d killed anyone, Ameen answered no.
In the press release, evidence shown in a federal court last Wednesday by federal prosecutors regarding Ameen’s involvement in the terrorist organization had “substantial deficiencies and is ultimately unpersuasive,” according to the judge.
Federal prosecutors argued that Ameen will likely be arrested upon deportation to Iraq but said that his attorneys didn’t prove that their government will torture him when he arrives, according to a press release.
Prosecutors also argued that Ameen was ineligible for withholding of removal from the country due to allegations of his involvement with the terrorist organization.
After his 2018 arrest, Ameen remained in the Sacramento County Main Jail until April 2021 when a judge extradited him of his charges, but he was quickly detained by ICE agents.
In May 2021, Sacramento City leaders pleaded for Ameen’s release from ICE custody, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg and several city council members.
“We are thrilled that the immigration judge found what we have been arguing all along – that the government does not have reliable evidence that Mr. Ameen has had any involvement in terrorism,” one of Ameen’s attorneys, Ilyce Shugall, said in a statement. “We are glad that she made the right decision to grant him protection so that he can remain in the United States safely. We will continue to pursue his immediate release from custody.”
“The federal government’s baseless targeting of Mr. Ameen to pursue a political agenda in its War on Terror has always been unacceptable. The immigration judge’s findings make it clear that Mr. Ameen’s continued detention in the name of national security is unwarranted and unjustifiable,” said Siobhan Waldron, another attorney for Ameen.
Prior to his 2018 arrest, Ameen was a student at American River College and an employee at a local body shop.
Ameen’s legal team is seeking his release with a pending habeas corpus petition and is scheduled for a hearing on the matter on April 13 in a federal court in San Francisco.