By Jeanne DeSocio.
(Jeanne has attended much of the court proceedings.)

A version of this letter appeared in
Syracuse New Times
on December 8, 2004.

To the Editors:

Generous Americans have always been free and often encouraged by television infomercials to donate money to help poor children throughout the world. The exception to this rule was the U.S. Government’s restrictions which discouraged Americans from donating money to help Iraqi children after the Gulf War. Americans are free to make tax-deductible contributions to any children’s charity. President George W. Bush supports Government funding of Private Faith Based Charities. However, helping Iraqi children during economic sanctions was illegal, not tax-deductible and Private Charities were threatened with fines and imprisonment unless the charity obtained a license from U.S. Government authorized bureaucrats. The details of the discriminatory U.S. policy against Iraqi suffering, dying children was not common knowledge throughout America.

Some time in the 1990’s, the U.S. Government suspected an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen Rafil Dhafir, a Manlius, NY oncologist of founding a Faith ( Islam) Based Charity to Help The Needy in Iraq without U.S. Government authority’s approval. Instead of notifying Dr. Dhafir that the U.S. Government determined that his charity was illegal and insist that he obtain a license or discontinue raising funds for the destitute civilians of Iraq, the FBI embarked on a long, expensive, comprehensive court investigation of Dhafir. The thorough FBI investigation continued for many years until his arrest on Feb. 26, 2003. Dhafir’s incarceration without bail continues during his trial which began in late October, 2004 in the courtroom of the Syracuse, NY Federal Building.

The FBI’s years of surveillance and detailed investigation of Dhafir is a chilling reminder of our vulnerability regarding our right to privacy. It seemed to me to be unconstitutionally intrusive and only a Supreme Being could escape such scrutiny unscathed. The trial proceedings against Dhafir suggest to me that many facts have been distorted, overlooked or lost in the translation from Arabic to English, unfairly enhancing the prosecution’s case. Mistakes have also been made in the local newspaper’s reports of the court proceedings of Dhafir’s trial. Corrections have appeared at least three times in The Post-Standard on the following day or a few days later.

The chaos and continued violence resulting from the U.S. unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq disallows a fair investigation of the donated money trail. The full impact of Dhafir’s work to help the needy civilians, in particular the children in Iraq, is now impossible to determine. Children in Iraq continue to writhe in pain without medication to relieve their suffering. Hunger and preventable disease continue to plague the very young in Iraq. Some remain in agony for days; infants may die quickly, wasted by water-borne diseases.

I believe that if the U.S. Government spent the time, effort, money and man/woman power to investigate Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden instead of Rafil Dhafir, the 9-11 attack on American soil would not have happened. Dhafir would be free to continue to relieve the suffering and save lives in Central NY and Iraq. And Osama bin Laden would be in prison instead of plotting his next attack on America.