One of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, Kellyanne Conway, is facing new questions after an interview Thursday night on MSNBC.
While defending Trump’s travel ban, she told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:
“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a 6-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. It didn’t get covered.”
But CNN reports Obama didn’t ban the Iraqui refugee program. The Department of Justice said they never planned an attack or to carry out a massacre.
Conway could have been referencing two Iraqis — Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi — who lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Both were granted refugee status and entered the United States in 2009.
They were arrested in May 2011 on a series of terrorism charges and were sentenced two years later after pleading guilty.
The two men, however, did not plan to commit an act of terrorism on US soil. Instead, they were trying to help get weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq. They were terrorists who should not have been allowed in the country, but they weren’t planning an attack in the United States. And they didn’t kill anyone in Bowling Green (or anywhere else in the US).
Some background on that case:
After arriving in the United States, the men were monitored by federal authorities. They told an FBI confidential informant that they wanted to provide weapons and explosives to al Qaeda in Iraq, court documents said.
An extensive undercover sting operation was launched, authorities said, and Alwan — who a Justice Department official once called “a really bad guy” — told an undercover agent he had been involved with “hundreds” of IEDs.
An indictment released at the time said the United States was able to locate Alwan’s fingerprints on an IED and on the base of a cordless phone used in an attack near Bayji, Iraq in the early 2000s. That the vetting process didn’t work and that these men were allowed into the country highlighted serious flaws in the refugee resettlement system and led to reforms of the vetting process.
As a result, Obama ordered that 57,000-58,000 Iraqi refugees recently allowed into the country be revetted, causing a massive backlog. So, while there was no specific ‘ban’ on Iraqi refugees coming into the country, there was a delay in allowing anymore in.