Iraqi-born suspect, once hailed as war hero, has history of violence
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — An Iraqi-born man brought to the U.S. as a teen by soldiers who labeled him a war hero now stands accused of a brutal sex crime in his adopted hometown.
Jasim Mohammed Hasin Ramadon, known to soldiers as Steve-O, was the subject of a book detailing how he helped Fort Carson troops identify Iraqi insurgents, including his own father. Now, his life reads more like a true crime novel. In July, the 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of 21 charges related to the July 22 sexual assault on a woman in a west-side apartment. Police say the attack, for which four others were arrested, is one of the most horrific in the city’s history.
His work as an informant was described by Army First Sgt. Daniel Hendrex in the book “A Soldier’s Promise.” Hendrex met Ramadon while on deployment in Iraq and eventually brought the teen to live with his family in the United States. Hendrex could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Hendrex wrote that Ramadon was just 13 when he became one of the most valuable informants of Dragon Company, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Carson. Ramadon’s work turned over 40 insurgents, including his father, to U.S. troops.
According to the book, Ramadon met the soldier in December 2003 when he showed up at the Army base in Husaybah, a town in Al Anbar province in Iraq. He told soldiers that he had information on his fathera former Iraqi colonel who was attacking Americans. His father was forcing him to join the fight.
Hendrex told The Gazette in 2006 that he was initially wary of the boy, but said that his information proved to be genuine, and soldiers protected him. For the next few weeks, Ramadon continued to help the company, going on patrol with them, identifying insurgents and pointing out where weapons were hidden.
“He was by far the smartest informant we ever had come in,” Hendrex said in 2006. “It really started becoming personal when you saw how much he was giving up with his family, his tribe and his country.”
When Ramadon’s work led to the death of his mother, Hendrex told The Gazette that he knew it was dangerous for the boy to be there and he became determined to bring Ramadon to the U.S. When his tour was up in March 2004, Hendrex worked on Ramadon’s case for six months and brought the boy to Colorado Springs in September that year. Their first trip when he arrived in the city was to the top of Pikes Peak.
The publicity was almost instantaneous. Ramadon, Hendrex and other members of Dragon Company appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in September 2004. While there, Ramadon met John Travolta, one of his heroes.
At home, things weren’t going as well as the publicity indicated, Hendrex said in 2006, especially after he redeployed and the boy was left in his wife’s care. Because of cultural differences, Ramadon had difficulty being in a house run by a woman. A psychologist recommended that he live somewhere else, with a family without military connections, he told The Gazette.
“You had this vision of how you want this to work out, and when I had to go back to Iraq, it really was tough to hear that things weren’t going well,” Hendrex told The Gazette.
At school, Ramadon was also having trouble, he told KOAA-TV in an October 2011 interview. He got into fights when students started calling him a terrorist.
“I didn’t know how to react, so I started getting into fights,” he told the television station.
Over time, Ramadon’s violence escalated, court records show.
In 2009, he faced a felony menacing charge under the alias Jay Hendrex, which was later dismissed. In 2010, he faced an assault charge under the same name and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
In early 2011, he and his high school girlfriend, Jamilla Mares, had a baby and in August that year he faced a domestic violence charge involving her, which was dismissed. Mares, however, soon filed a restraining order saying that he had sent to her to the hospital twicehe had busted blood vessels in her eyes and face, crushed soft tissue in her arm and bruised tissue and muscles in her neck when he choked her, she wrote in her restraining order application. He told her that he was going to kill her. The outcome of that restraining order application is unclear.
In September 2011, Ramadon showed up in the conservative Colorado Springs-based blog “Red White Blue News.” He told the author, Jim Cross, that he was living in a $300-a-month, one-bedroom apartment in Colorado Springs and wanted to get a good job so he could move his girlfriend and baby daughter in with him. He had a job spinning a sign for a Middle Eastern restaurant, but was told that he was going to be let go because he was no longer needed.
“I didn’t think he got a fair shake over here,” Cross said Wednesday. “He put his life on the line over there in Iraq and basically grew up in the foster system in Colorado.”
Cross said Ramadon told him he has post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury from his father’s abuse. Cross said it did appear that Ramadon had a lack of respect for women but said he was shocked when he heard about the arrest.
“From what I know, I believe he really has a good heart,” he said.
In February, Mares again filed for a restraining order, saying that he shoved her in a store and threatened to hurt someone if she did not leave the store with him. In her application she said he told her things like, “If I were charged with murder, I’d have you murdered.”
Reached by phone Wednesday, Mares said she did not want to comment about Ramadon.
The night of the July 22 assault, Ramadon’s friends told police that he had gotten into a fight in the parking lot of the Wildridge at Cheyenne Mountain Ranch apartments on Woodside Lane, according to court records. Ramadon’s friends immediately fingered him for the assault. Ramadon was arrested a few days later on suspicion of a slew of charges including a violent crime using a weapon and sexual assault on a person incapacitated. He remains at the El Paso County jail on a $250,000 bond.
His four friends, also Iraqis, were later arrested on charges related to the assault and for lying to police.
If convicted, police say Ramadon would serve his time in the United States before being deported to Iraq.