An Iranian man who came to Maine as a refugee in 2009 was fighting for the Islamic State group when he was killed last year in Lebanon, investigators said.

Details about Adnan Fazeli, 38, were revealed in newly unsealed court documents filed in federal court in Portland, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Fazeli, a Muslim who was most recently a Freeport resident, became radicalized while living in Maine, the newspaper reported. He came under FBI investigation for his connection to Islamic State shortly after leaving his job at a Portland auto dealer and flying to Turkey in August 2013. He never came back.

Fazeli died in battle in January 2015 as a member of an Islamic State force of about 150. The group was turned away by the Lebanese army.

The Press Herald reported that the details of Fazeli’s case were never revealed publicly before and were contained in an affidavit that was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland in October and unsealed on Monday.


In the affidavit, written by a state police detective on an FBI task force, four FBI informants described Fazeli’s changes about a year after he came to Maine through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services. The informants said Fazeli would watch Islamic videos on the internet for hours and began voicing anti-American sentiments.

Fazeli’s 25-year-old nephew Ebrahim Fazeli said his uncle was an “educated, smart guy” who had become more religious, but relatives didn’t realize he had become radicalized.

The family learned what Adnan Fazeli was up to when he contacted his wife from overseas, Ebrahim Fazeli said. Ebrahim Fazeli said that’s when he contacted authorities, because he feared for his aunt and the couple’s three children.

“I wanted to protect them from him,” Ebrahim Fazeli said. “It was very clear to me that they weren’t important to him.”

According to Freeport Police Chief Susan Nourse, a check of Freeport’s computer records this morning showed contact with Fazeli for “traffic warning, parking ticket, and visit to his home with a state agency.”

Maine leaders react


Some Maine Republicans have already pounced on the Press Herald report, using it to assail immigration policies.

Gov. Paul LePage Wednesday afternoon issued a statement on “the need to strengthen immigration policy in the United States.”

LePage’s office blamed the Fazeli situation on “inadequate vetting process, which must be addressed by Congress.”

“President Barack Obama’s immigration policies have been an utter failure and continue to jeopardize the safety of millions of Americans,” said LePage in a statement. “While the Supreme Court rejected the President’s overreach in his executive action to prevent deportation of millions of illegal immigrants, we must urge Congress to correct and enforce immigration policies to ensure they protect American citizens and reject those seeking to live in the United States who want to harm us or join our enemies.”

LePage is an ardent supporter of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump who has controversially called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants including subjecting visa applicants to a so-called values “test.”

“The screening process of immigrants has failed and will continue to place Americans at risk. We cannot afford to harbor radical Islamic sympathizers on our watch,” LePage stated. “We have an upcoming election, which is pivotal in addressing U.S. foreign policy and immigration laws and two presidential candidates who are on opposite sides of the fence. These policies are vital to the future of our nation and our state. The safety of Americans must come first.”


Maine 2nd District Congressman Bruce Poliquin, also a Republican, echoed LePage’s comments.

“We are seeing growing threats from radicalized individuals and groups around the world and here at home,” said Poliquin in a statement. “Still, the President and his liberal allies are ignoring the rightful concerns of millions of Americans and moving forward with a dangerous Middle East immigration and refugee policy.”

Poliquin added: “In Congress, I have repeatedly voted against the misguided refugee resettlement program which aims to bring tens of thousands of unknown individuals into the United States without proper safeguards in place. I am committed to ensuring that American families and communities are safe and that our national security is a priority for our federal government.”

Freeport lies outside of Poliquin’s district.

First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree responded this morning: “It’s terrible to think that someone who lived in Maine could be corrupted by ISIS’s message of hate and violence enough to abandon his family to join their cause. But it’s important to note that he was only on the FBI’s radar because people in his family brought him to the agency’s attention. They were the ones who grew concerned with signs of his radicalization and they were the ones who identified him as a risk.”

The Democrat continued: “I hope this story doesn’t lead us to play into ISIS’s hand by creating division in our communities and alienating people who’ve become an important part of our state. Rather, it’s a reminder that we need everyone’s help to bring an end to this awful group and its cause.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Who was Adnan Fazeli?

IRANIAN, came to Maine in 2009 as a refugee.

EMPLOYED at a Portland auto dealer.

LEFT MAINE in 2013.

DIED IN BATTLE fighting in Lebanon in 2015.

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