PHOENIX (AP) — An Iraqi man living in metro Phoenix is accused of leading an al-Qaida group that authorities say killed two police officers 14 years ago on the streets of Fallujah in attacks carried out by masked men.
Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri was arrested last week in Arizona as part of an extradition request made by the Iraqi government, which charged the 42-year-old with murder in the 2006 shooting deaths.
Court records unsealed Monday reveal details of the two attacks in which armed men who were wearing masks jumped out of cars, fired on the officers and fled.
In the first shooting, an attacker held a gun to a witness’ head, while another attacker who started to fire on a police officer experienced a malfunction with his gun. Another attacker then killed police Lt. Issam Ahmed Hussein. The witness later identified Ahmed, who wasn’t wearing a mask, as the group’s leader, according to court records.
Four months later, Iraqi authorities say Ahmed and other men fatally shot Officer Khalid Ibrahim Mohammad as the officer was sitting outside a store. A person who witnessed the shooting recognized Ahmed, whose mask had fallen off, as one of the assailants, according to court records.
“At this early stage we know little more than what is alleged in the the complaint, but even that is troubling,” Ahmed’s attorney, Jami Johnson, said in an email. “The charge appears to be based on events over 12 years old and to originate from Iraqi informants with nothing to lose and everything to gain by delivering the Trump administration a supposed ‘terrorist refugee’ in an election year.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix declined to describe Ahmed’s immigration status.
A court hearing for Ahmed is scheduled Tuesday in Phoenix.
The Arizona Republic has previously reported that Ahmed has been in the United States since January 2008 and ran an Arizona driving school.