Katherine: I have had no news of whether Ayman Jarwan has been released or not, I’ll post any information as soon as I have it.

Below are links to: an article from the year anniversary of the arrests in the “Help the Needy” (HTN) case, a link to a government document listing the HTN defendants as terrorists for sending aid to starving Iraqi civilians, and a video that shows Ayman Jarwan and Dr. Dhafir speaking at a fundraising event for HTN.

The Terrorism Case that Wasn’t: One Year On, ‘Help the Needy’ Case Still Shrouded in Mystery, Innuendo
by Madeleine Baran

A Muslim American doctor held without bail for providing charity aid to Iraq against sanctions speaks out for the first time about his cause. Under insinuations of terror that won’t go away, the case may put US-Iraq policy on trial.

Syracuse, NY; Feb. 29, 2004 — A year ago, two federal investigators and a New York state trooper followed Dr. Rafil Dhafir, a prominent physician, as he pulled out of his driveway around seven in the morning and headed to work at his medical clinic outside Syracuse. A few blocks later, they ordered Dhafir to pull his tan 2001 Lexus over to the side of the road and arrested him on charges that he violated the sanctions against Iraq.

In nearby Fayetteville, Osameh Al-Wahaidy, a college math instructor and imam for a local prison, heard a knock at his door. When he opened it, he was face-to-face with federal investigators holding two warrants – one to search his home, the other to arrest him.

At the same time, Ayman Jarwan, executive director of the charity Help the Needy, opened the door of his Syracuse apartment and met the same fate.

Meanwhile, federal agents started knocking on the doors of Muslim families throughout the Syracuse area, asking them questions about their donations to Help the Needy, and about their religion. In four hours, authorities visited as many as 150 area families. Although the exact number is not known, it is believed to be one of the largest federal interrogations of Muslims in the United States.

Although Jarwan and Al-Wahaidy would later be released, Dhafir, the founder and president of Help the Needy, would spend at least the next year of his life in jail, at the center of one of the quietest, most convoluted and some say most outrageous prosecutions of a Muslim charity.

Despite the terrorism hype, no one involved with Help the Needy has actually been charged with any terrorism-related crime.

To the Justice Department, Dhafir is a radical Muslim, suspected of giving money to terrorist organizations and deceiving the US government. To his community, Dhafir is a devoutly religious man who felt called to raise millions of dollars to assist the poor and starving in Iraq, a victim of the hysteria surrounding anything perceived to be related to terrorism.

Either way, Dhafir, a naturalized US citizen born in Baghdad, remains at the Onondaga County Correctional Facility in Jamesville, New York awaiting a trial scheduled to start April 19. He has been denied bail on five occasions.

For the first time, he has agreed to speak to the media to tell his story. “We don’t have anything to hide because we have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

The Actual Charges

Seven federal agencies spent almost four years investigating Help the Needy. They gathered bank, medical, tax and business records and emails. They collected video and audio transcripts. They went undercover to Help the Needy fundraisers, and infiltrated at least one of the charity’s meetings. Yet the case remains shrouded in mystery, and the public remains generally unaware any of it ever happened.

Full article: The New Standard

Link to Quicktime and Flash versions of a HTN fundraising video featuring Ayman Jarwan and Dr. Dhafir.

Link to Government press release June 23, 2006 Department of Justice Examples of Terrorism Convictions Since Sept. 11, 2001