Hoping to make more people aware of the case I placed an add in the Syracuse University Daily Orange newspaper starting April 11th and running the 12th, 13th and 17th. The ad says:

Muslim Charities: Criminalizing Compassion in the War on Terror. The Case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir: www.dhafirtrial.net

Dr. Dhafir was a founding member of the Mosque in Syracuse and for several years before the university had a regular Imam he acted as Imam at Syracuse University. In direct response to the brutal U.S. embargo on the country of Iraq, Dr. Dhafir, an oncologist, a man of Iraqi descent, Muslim faith, and a U.S. citizen for almost 30 years, founded the charity Help the Needy (HTN). According to the UN statistics 5,000 children under the age of five were dying every month from preventable illnesses throughout the embargo. This is a total of more than half a million children, and if children over five and adults are added the number rises to more than one and a half million preventable deaths. (For more information about Iraq under sanctions, go to: Voices in the Wilderness.) In the13 years before his arrest Dr. Dhafir and HTN got more aid to starving Iraqi civilians than all the other aid agencies put together. Because of this humanitarian work he was arrested in February 2003, held without bail for 31 months and then sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In a CBS interview when asked about the deaths of half a million children due to the US embargo, Madeleine Albright infamously said, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” (“The New Rulers of the World,” John Pilger, Verso 2003, p.64)

This case comes very close to home; two of the other Help the Needy defendants who helped get aid to starving civilians are S.U. Alumni with doctorate degrees. And many of the almost 150 Muslim families interrogated on the morning of the arrest have ties to the university as alumni, students, faculty and staff. Despite these facts the university administration has provided no forum for discussion about what has happened with respect to civil liberties in this case.

In a 45 page sentencing statement (a link is available to the right), Dr. Dhafir said of the day of his arrest:

“What was the result of Feb 26, 2003 besides imprisoning of innocent people? Scores of innocent elderly American cancer patients died needlessly, innumerable tens of thousands of Iraqi needy (children, women and men) died, and more than that suffered malnutrition and the humiliation of poverty. An entire segment of our society here was treated as criminals, intimidated, interrogated and threatened. Never in the history of the Islamic Society of Central New York had we had so many cases of depression and suicide that the mosque had to engage the services of a psychiatrist to help out. The dream of this Republic being a sanctuary for the oppressed was shattered on that day and a new sad reality was erected in it’s place.” P.36

As someone who attended almost all of the 17-week trial (and took notes for 5 hours each day), I have many concerns about the case. I invite others – individuals, classes and departments — to take a look at some of my concerns, and to become more informed about this case. Below I list of some of my concerns and give some suggestions about how people can find out more about the case:

1. If the government’s case against Dr. Dhafir is so strong, why did they go to such lengths to make it difficult for him to defend himself? They held him without bail, they denied him access to his counsel and denied him access to his own records. [Despite the fact that the local Muslim community put up $2.3 million to secure bail, including many signing over their houses.] Is this what we call justice?

2. Why has the government been so duplicitous in this case from the outset, with a “made for TV” arrest and Ashcroft calling Dhafir a terrorist on the day of the arrest — a charge that Dhafir was never allowed to defend in court? And why has the media never asked the government to explain their duplicity; instead reporting things about “Dhafir the crook” and “Dhafir the terrorist” as if they had no connection whatsoever?

3. If Dr. Dhafir is merely a common thief, why did the government do their utmost to prevent any mention during the trial of the genocide that Dr. Dhafir was responding to?

4. In November 2005, after firmly establishing Dhafir as a crook in the minds of the public, the three prosecutors of the Dhafir case were part of a presentation at Syracuse University Law School, “A Law Enforcement Approach to Terrorist Financing,” in which Dhafir’s case was highlighted as an example. The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), which is hosted at the SU Law School, sponsored the lecture.

Why is it that no one has asked the government why they were willing to present this lecture, but unwilling to accuse Dhafir of this in a court of law where he could defend himself? And why has this lecture received no coverage or discussion in any of the local media, despite the fact that I have written to the two university newspapers and the two local newspapers on several occasions mentioning this event? [On 4/5/06 the Syracuse New Times finally published a letter I had sent to them in early February, but they did not include the last line of my letter which contained my web address.]

5. If Dr. Dhafir is guilty of Medicare fraud, why is it that 90% of the money Mrs. Dhafir has been ordered to pay back to Medicare actually was spent on chemotherapy medicine that was administered to real patients? The government is saying that because Dr. Dhafir did not fill in the Medicare forms correctly he is not entitled to any reimbursement from Medicare. Thus he is liable for the cost of all the medicine that he administered to patients, and therefore he owes Medicare money. Medicare fraud usually involves fictitious patients and non-existent diseases; Dr. Dhafir’s Medicare case of 25 counts had none of this. The whole case revolved around whether Dr. Dhafir’s office billed correctly under the “incident to” (Incident to the Dr.’s treatment) rule.

In order to find out more about the case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir, I urge individuals, classes and departments to consider doing one or more of the following:

1. Read this excellent article that sets Dr. Dhafir’s case in the context of the Bush Administration’s war on terror: http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=27572

2. View the video of Dr. Dhafir’s fund raising event speech which was shown in court. Dr. Dhafir is a vociferous critic of the government in this video and I believe that this outspokenness contributed considerably to the position he now finds himself in. He, like Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck of the UN, accused the government of genocide. And, like Hans Von Sponeck, he accused the government of acting willfully. Using information and statistics from the Pentagon, the British Government and the United Nations, he accused the U.S. Government of using weapons including nuclear (depleted uranium) and biological weapons against the people of Iraq. The video is available for viewing at the website below. The file is 120 MB:

Quicktime version:


Flash version:


3. Read one or both of my articles: “Crime of Compassion.” and “United States of America v Rafil A. Dhafir: Individual Responsibility and Complicity.”

4. Invite one or more of the 12 court watchers to speak to your class, department or group, about their experience at the trial of Dr. Dhafir.

To contact me please leave a message in the comment space below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (The message will not show before I see it and you can let me know if you also want the message published.)
To write to Dr. Dhafir (Dr. Dhafir has had his medical license taken away and letters that address him as “Dr.” are being returned):

Rafil A. Dhafir
P.O. Box 420
Fairton, NJ 08320

Please write your name and address on the envelope and the letter so that he will know who the mail is from.