From: Post-Standard

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
President should not cite Dhafir case as evidence.

Dr. Rafil Dhafir may have been convicted of 59 crimes in federal court in Syracuse, but none of them had anything to do with terrorism. Tax evasion, yes; fraud, lots of hiding money and shady charity activities. But not a word from his prosecutors about terrorism.

And yet Dhafir, the Iraq native who lived in Manlius and had an oncology practice in Rome, is now hoisted on the wall as a trophy in the war on terrorism.

The man who loosely ran a charity to help people starved by Saddam Hussein is an easy and popular target.

First, Gov. George Pataki smeared Dhafir with the terrorist stain by declaring in August that Dhafir was accused of “money-laundering efforts to help terrorist organizations.”

Now President Bush has pinned the terrorist tag on Dhafir, and mistakenly so. At the same time, in his campaign to renew the Patriot Act, Bush exaggerated (imagine!) the number of terrorist- related arrests chalked up by his Justice Department since 9/11.

The real numbers might be impressive by themselves. Thirty-nine people have been charged with terrorist crimes. (That doesn’t include Donald Jenner, the Madison County man who made verbal threats on the lives of social workers he didn’t like and became the first person convicted of New York state’s own anti-terror law.)

The 39 charged with terrorism-related crimes represented possible threats. They included the six Yemeni men arrested in Lackawanna in 2002 and charged with attending an al-Qaida training camp.

But President Bush, as the Washington Post reported a week ago Sunday, and his cabinet have decided to multiply their score in the hunt for terrorists by a factor of 10.

“Since September the 11th,” Bush said June 9 in Ohio, “federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted.”

The Post analyzed the official list of suspects, which actually number 330. That list includes Dr. Dhafir and four others involved in the case and identifies their affiliation as “Iraq charity.” Most other names are followed by “Non-terrorism related.”

If the Bush administration wants to press for renewing provisions of the Patriot Act, it should stick to facts and drop the innuendo.

© 2005 The Post-Standard.

Click to read: Washington Post article

Click to view the graphic that lists: Dr. Dhafir and other Help the Needy defendants