Adnan Fazeli went to the Islamic State to wage his jihad. What if he had decided to wage it right there in Portland, Maine? What’s to stop the next jihadi refugee that Catholic Charities brings to Portland from deciding to do just that?
“Documents: Freeport man died fighting for Islamic State,” by Scott Dolan and Megan Doyle, Portland Press Herald, August 16, 2016:
An Iranian man who came to Maine as a refugee in 2009 became radicalized in his Islamic faith while living here and was fighting for the Islamic State when he was killed last year in Lebanon, according to newly unsealed federal court documents.
Adnan Fazeli, 38, most recently of Freeport, came under investigation by the FBI for his connection to the terrorist group shortly after he left his job at Dubai Auto in Portland to fly to Turkey on Aug. 13, 2013, and never returned.
Fazeli, who also went by the names Abu Nawaf and Abu Abdullah Al-Ahwazi, was killed on Jan. 23, 2015, in a battle near Ras Baalbek in Lebanon as part of an Islamic State attack force of about 150 that was thwarted by the Lebanese army.
Those details, which were never revealed publicly before, were contained in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland last Oct. 27 by Maine State Police Detective George Loder, who was acting as a member of an FBI task force investigating whether other people were aware of Fazeli’s plans to fight for the Islamic State, helped him travel to the Iraq-Syria-Lebanon area or supported his efforts there. The affidavit remained under seal during the investigation, which ended with no criminal charges.
The affidavit gives the accounts of four anonymous informants for the FBI who described how Fazeli’s behavior began to change about a year after he came to the Portland area through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services. They told the FBI that Fazeli frequently watched hours of Islamic videos online, grew a beard and began making anti-American remarks while at an Iraqi market in Portland.
While the informants are not named in the affidavit, Fazeli’s nephew, Ebrahim Fazeli, told the Portland Press Herald on Monday that he informed the FBI about his uncle after Adnan Fazeli called the family from Turkey. The affidavit describes one of the informants as a close relative of Fazeli’s.
“Fazeli’s change in behavior alienated him from many of his Shia and moderate Sunni friends in the area. However, there were a few local Sunnis who supported his fervor and treated him with a great deal of respect. Fazeli started holding occasional religious meetings at his home in Freeport,” Loder said in the affidavit, describing what one informant had said.
Ebrahim Fazeli, 25, said the family was unaware of his uncle’s plans to leave the United States. His uncle had become more religious and grew a substantial beard, but the nephew said no one realized he had become radicalized.
“That wasn’t enough for me to think an educated, smart guy has it in him to join an insane group of people,” said Ebrahim Fazeli, who lives in the Greater Portland area….
Fazeli initially came to the United States as a refugee in 2009, but did not adapt well. He told one informant that he hated Iran because the government was anti-Sunni and felt the United States had done nothing to help. Although Fazeli was raised a Shia Muslim, his family was not devout, one of the informants said. His behavior began to change while in the U.S., and he converted to Wahhabism, an austere form of Sunni Islam….
While Fazeli was abroad, he continued to communicate by Skype chats with at least one of the informants, who later shared videos of the chats with FBI investigators. In one video, Fazeli said that he and his Islamic State allies could kill 1,000 enemies for every 10 of their own killed. In another video, he wore a khaki camouflage military uniform and inquired whether any U.S. government authorities had begun asking questions about him….
Fazeli’s relative called the FBI on Jan. 26, 2015, to report that Fazeli had been killed, according to the affidavit. The same relative emailed a copy of a news article in Arabic from the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar to the FBI on Jan. 28, 2015, that describes how “tens” of ISIS fighters were killed in a clash in Ras Baalbek, a Lebanese Christian town near the Syrian border threatened by both the Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria. The article listed one of the dead as Abu Abdullah Al-Ahwazi, Fazeli’s other name….
Jalali said Fazeli self-identified as Arab, not Iranian, because he came from the southern and western part of Iran. In Maine, he mingled primarily with Iraqis.
“He talked about enjoying religious freedom here. That’s why I am so shocked,” Jalali said. “He praised this society for its openness.
“How he could go through that transformation, that’s a mystery. That’s quite heartbreaking. It reminds us of the power of social media, brainwashing bright, educated men and turn them into fighters or killers.”…