Read in part by Dr. Dhafir at his sentencing, October 27, 2005, J. Hanley Federal Building
All Praises are due to Allah and may His blessings and peace be upon His Prophet Mohammad and all the prophets including Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
I understand that the people who are going to be sentenced are allowed to say something before the court. I would like to take advantage of this and address the court.
Because English is not my first language, I ran these notes by an English language professor to make any correction. After he reviewed it, he remarked that this was too long and wondered if the court had the time and the patience to listen to it.
I hesitated between listening to him or listen to myself and proceed. Then I figured that if the court has been patient for the entire time of my incarceration of 32 months including 4 months of trial, then I am sure it can endure one more hour or so. Therefore please indulge me in giving me the time to address you without interruption. These remarks are not necessarily all addressed to the court. Probably most of it is not.
The court has reviewed and listened to the statements during the trial and now it is the time that a decision is to be made.
I believe that I am right (although I stand to be corrected) when I say that this case is not something that this court or any court deals with on a daily basis or even ever.
To make sense of the whole thing, no one can do justice by addressing the issues raised line by line without sitting back and taking the whole thing in perspective.
I am not familiar with the court system nor its procedures, I had no reason to be. When the court started its proceedings I heard you, Sir, give instructions to the Jury. One thing that stuck in my mind was your elaborate explanation of what “circumstantial evidence” meant. You gave the example of the snow falling … etc. To me this was nothing more than telling the jurors to use common sense.
Common sense! Every reasonable intelligent man or woman should have and practice common sense. If I were to tell you that there was snow in Phoenix, Arizona on July 15, you know that there is something wrong. If I were to tell you that the Mojave Desert is full of waterfalls, it would not take a genius to figure out that there is misinformation by someone.
The other thing the court kept repeating every day the court was in session to the jurors was to
“not read the newspapers and not to discuss the case with anyone, nor do your own research”.
Given some of the articles concerning the trial that I read in the Post Standard, I can fully appreciate the court giving such strict and repeated instructions.
What does this particular instruction mean? Doesn’t it have the obvious concern that these jurors are not saints and are not infallible? That they are human just like the man or woman next door who can easily be influenced by others, be it their home, their fellow workers, friends, neighbors or even fellow jurors?
When you look at the description of any fire arm, the manufacturer will tell you that this rifle’s range is 800 yards but for a group of these rifles the range is 1,000 yards. Why? Is it not the same rifle?
I was aimed at with 60 stones with the hope by the throwers that at least one will hit, so that the expense of those persecuting us will be justified.
How did this work? It worked for “Juha” centuries ago. One night “Juha” was praying to God and pleading “oh God I am in dire need of 1,000 dinars, I need every cent of it. If you send me 999, I will not accept it”.
His neighbor heard him, and said to himself I am going to find out if Juha is truthful or not. The neighbor put 999 dinars in a purse and threw it down the chimney of Juha’s house. Juha was happy to see that his prayers were quickly answered but it was only 999 dinars when he counted it. Juha thought for a while then said “God! I accept your gift, what is one dinar between friends.”
The neighbor, realizing that he was duped, came rushing to Juha demanding the 999 dinars be returned to him. Juha refused insisting that it was a gift from God.
The neighbor demanded that they go to court to solve this dispute. Juha agreed and said, it is cold outside and I have no winter clothes, I want you to lend me your coat. The neighbor gladly obliged. Juha also demanded he be provided a ride as he had no mount. The neighbor provided him with a donkey.
When they argued before the judge and after listening to the neighbor, Juha proceeded and said to the judge, Sir, this neighbor is a terrible man, everything I own he claims it as his, ask him about the coat I am wearing he will tell you it is his and ask him about the donkey I was riding, he will tell you it is his. Now you judge between us Sir. The neighbor was thrown out of the court and lashed for false claims.
I am not naïve, I know that I am in no position to tell the court how and what to rule but I firmly believe that this court itself had set standards for itself and I will hold the court to the standards it set for itself.
I am accused of stealing my own money. Even Robin Hood would not have dreamt of this. I am told that over a span of a few years I donated over $1.4 million to Help the Needy. I never knew this as I never counted nor should I have. Then I am told that this was no virtue because you, the evil Dhafir, took it back and bought properties for $300,000. You didn’t give it to help anyone but yourself you wicked soul so you deducted this from your taxes, to avoid paying a $400,000 taxes due.
I love math, I was always good at it for the 11 years I studied math through high school and always scored 100 out of 100. The court showed us during the trial its math capability.
These numbers don’t add up. If I didn’t provide for HTN, kept the money in my pocket and paid the alleged $400,000 in taxes I would have been ahead by one million. But I was so stupid, according to the government, that I came with this complicated scheme to steal $300,000 from my own money over a span of a few months. Not even the Coyote can come up with such a scheme in his hunt for the Road Runner. Even a single digit IQ person will not digest this. No one ever asked why $300,000 only and why only for a few months period, not before, not after, especially not later on when HTN had more income. Why would a thief give the cash he collects as donations from overseas to Mr. Zagha to be deposited into HTN account? That would have been the best chance to steal! I must not have been greedy. If the whole thing was to avoid paying taxes why then, as was shown during the trial, I had more donations than the maximum allowed by law for deductions that it had to be carried over to the next year almost every year? And why would a “tax-cheater” declare cash income from real estate properties year after year?
I am accused of “milking” Medicare through “improper” billing. If there was improper billing it sure was not to my advantage, but rather to Medicare’s advantage.
When my office computers were seized by the government and we were never allowed access to its data, which was not by accident but rather by design on the part of the government.
It would not have taken much effort, had we been given access to our computers, to show that based on my office’s alleged “improper billing”, for the entire year of 2002 Medicare reimbursement for my services did not even cover the cost of the anticancer drugs we provided to our cancer patients for that year. What this means is that I paid from my pocket for medication to patients and never got paid for it. That also means that all the other services provided by me and my staff were not reimbursed. These services include my time, lab tests, supplies … etc.
We were portrayed as crooks billing for services when I was away for relief work or medical conferences. The government cleverly hid the fact that services were rendered, medications were dispensed, lab tests were done for patients, which these patients did not receive this care for the first time, it was provided to them before, during and after my trips, i.e. no new patients were ever seen when I was away. Nothing new, it was the same treatment rendered as the regiment dictates. The government conveniently hid this fact and made it appear as if my office has gone wild.
Even if we accept the government’s subjective calculation that about $300,000 was over billed, when you go over my office records, which the government hid and refused to release, you will see that over that same span of years my office generated over $9 million in gross receipts.
The amount the government alleges we over billed represents less than 3% of the gross receipts.
They are insulting my intelligence by claiming that I plotted, planned and worked hard, jeopardized my reputation and that of my wife’s, risked my professional standing over a measly 3%.
The real figures of the alleged over billing is only a fraction of the 3%, of course this is if we totally ignore the hundreds of thousands of dollars my office was cheated out of by Medicare over the years especially in the year 2002.
By confiscating my office records, the government literally prevented my staff from billing for services rendered and medications dispensed during the three months prior to Feb 26, 2003 which totals in the hundreds of thousands. To this date we are not allowed to bill, adding salt to injury.
It would be naïve to think, not even for a moment, that these facts were not known to my accusers. Then it should not surprise anyone that we were denied access to this information.
If my wife and I were thieves then we sure were some pathetic thieves who don’t even know how to steal from their own office.
We were defrauded by Medicare and the government. I implore the court in the name of its God and His justice to look at this fact to see for yourself how we were wronged intentionally by the government.
In the “pre sentencing report” we see in one breath it claims that HTN never helped anyone in Iraq, only Dhafir enriched himself (by donating $1.4m I guess!!!). If this is the case where did IEEPA violation come from?
In another breath they say that they have receipts and reports proving that HTN sent aid to the Iraqis with detailed accounting.
Well which one do we believe?
They conveniently ignored Mr. Kolbe’s statement that the Adhahi (animal sacrifice) were well documented and accounted for. This comprised over 70% of our expenditure and activity. That was not cash distribution but food. Food hungry people needed and was provided for them.
How can the government reconcile all of this?
The government went a step further. They concentrated on and magnified items, taken out of context, which in their judgment, deemed inconsistent with relief effort and ignored everything else that proved time and again the noble relief effort done by HTN for the needy even though they appeared in the same report. They even said at one point that these receipts were fake.
Mr. Alazzawy’s alleged fake receipt was for funds he clearly stated went to his starving family in Iraq. After all, this was the purpose of HTN’s relief work to help the needy such as Mr. Alazzawy’s family.
Had there been a receipt for cigarettes for instance they sure would have killed themselves to prove the authenticity of these receipts. In my humble view this is profane and sleazy on the part of the government.
If the receipts were fake and HTN was bent on doing wrong all along why get these receipts in the first place? The court recalls my repeated emails sent to Mr. Zagha requesting him to send the receipts. I did not ask him to make up receipts but rather to send me the receipts.
If HTN wanted to make its own fake receipts why ask Mr. Zagha? With the computers and their magic we could have manufactured anything we wanted without going all the way overseas or bugging Mr. Zagha.
According to their own reports for Mr. Jarwan’s sentencing, Mr. Jarwan refuted their assertions about me especially the allegations of misappropriating HTN’s funds. They chose not to believe him in this regard because it did not fit their preconceived profiling of the whole case. Well! If you don’t believe Mr. Jarwan in this why do you believe him in other statements he made? You can’t have it both ways.
Dr. Haifal Abdulla did not receive funds from HTN donors to bribe the Iraqi government as the government claimed in their memorandum. He never took a single dime from HTN relief fund as proven during trial. Mr. Zagha helped Dr. Haifal to achieve a project that would benefit the Iraqi needy from funds generated overseas for that particular purpose. Besides, it was a loan to be paid back to Mr. Zagha to return it to where he took it from.
With the enormous amounts of monies spent by the government on this case, it will be near impossible to believe that they didn’t check the facts on the ground in Iraq, especially now that we practically own that country. And if they did, they did not share the results with the court.
Next to my attorney Mr. Cannick, I am probably the least computer literate in this court. I don’t think that many hands will be raised, if any, when I ask this simple question. “How many of you print your email messages and then tossed it in someone else’s trash?” Why print it in the first place?
We all know that if someone is a habitual liar, he will have to lie to cover up the previous lies and so on. We were told, during the trial, that practically my whole life was constructed from items found in the trash. The irony is that if you go back to their grand jury statements and compare it with what they said during the trial, not only things don’t match but the agents sharply differed on when and where certain documents were allegedly found.
The government was quick to point out that what helped them was that
“I never throw anything away even a small note from years ago”.
Would such a person then throw away his whole life in the form of documents in the trash? Try to reconcile that!
Not only that but they came up with the story that I threw this trash in Nob Hill Apartments’ trash.
I don’t live there, have no access to it nor did any of HTN employees live in that building at that time. It’s peculiar that they didn’t bring the manager who allegedly alerted them to this “unusual trash”. The fact is that since they were not authorized to snoop on my email and since (as proved during the trial) they were in and out of my house illegally, looking at my computer, they had to print these emails and toss it in the trash only to claim later that they found it accidentally.
I am sure the court remembers how Mr. Cannick showed the alleged trash to be so clean and neat. The OFAC brochure was miraculously found in the trash. Again, how conveniently clean, unfolded with no envelope. Interestingly one of the grand jurors questioned the government
“why didn’t you take fingerprints from the OFAC brochure?”
I wonder whose finger prints would have been found.
Common sense imposes itself here. If we, at HTN, intended to violate the sanctions why care about getting the OFAC brochure in the first place.
If it was mailed to us by the government to alert us then where is the envelope? Indeed the OFAC lady testified that she never mailed any thing to us at HTN.
The truth is, there was no trash at all. The only trash found was in the government’s mind.
During these proceedings I was labeled a “manipulator”. Also some of the attorneys for those who were charged with me saw it fit to blame and castigate me. I fully understand their motive. I understand that, in order to best serve their clients or get the best results for them, it was easy for them to blame me as being the evil doer.
These people, who they argue that I manipulated, are good decent men and women. They are responsible, mature and very well educated. It is interesting however, that each and everyone of them have refuted the government’s claim of their being manipulated. To the contrary, they all testified that they still view me in a positive light and had participated willingly in our efforts to provide relief for the needy.
I trust that God will bless them for their concern for others. But according to the government these fine individuals were manipulated by me allegedly to do what? To break the law? For what purpose? I don’t need anyone to “steal” my own money as the government alleges; I don’t need anyone to save children’s lives; I don’t need anyone to be responsible and charitable in sharing what my Maker provided for me with others less fortunate so much so that I don’t even have a suit of my own. I guess according to them my wife of 32 years was manipulated too. At times it seemed as if I worked 26 hours a day running my responsibilities. I had no time for this “grandiose” scheme.
Plotting as the government alleges takes time and effort. I could barely fulfill my daily duties at the mosque, HTN, personal interest, family needs, my profession and travel.
When some of these allegedly manipulated fine people took the stand, I sternly instructed my lawyers to go easy on them even though we disagreed with much of what they said with proof to back it up.
I will never hurt my people, it’s bad enough that I am wronged by the government why should I allow them (the government) to hurt others. I would rather suffer alone and take the blame.
Mr. (and soon to be Doctor) Alwahaidy is like a son to me. His children Saja, Mohammad, Abdul Rahman and Ahmad and his gracious wife are like my own family. I would rather die than hurt them.
I saw the little Jarwans come to this life and grow; Bilal, Sarah and Noora. Where would Ahmed Ali go if he and his wife were deported? I can’t have that on my conscience.
Mr. Hatfield is an old friend and it’s not in me to let my friends down or speak ill of them regardless of what their lawyers say about me. The government forgot that chivalry and gallant are not dead and some of us do believe in them,
For days during the trial, numbers and figures were thrown all over the place and amazing conclusions were derived from it by the government. The irony was that after all this fanfare we were told by the “special agent” Kolbe that all this was only “subjective”. What does subjective mean? The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as
“Proceeding from or taking place within a person’s mind such as to be unaffected by the external world”
in other words, a delusion. Yet most of the allegations were based on “subjectivity”. That subjectivity or delusion started with this premise.
“Because Dr. Dhafir is giving so much money for charity he must be stealing from Medicare and we must prove it”.
I am not making this up. Read the grand jury testimony of the Kolbe’s and the McCole’s and you will see it. These documents will also show that they became obsessed with Dhafir, it became purely personal. They didn’t like the way I look, the way I dress, O’ they hated my beard, they didn’t like the way I drive or even park my car. I could not take a single breath without them interpreting it as a coded message with a nefarious intent.
In their minds they painted a picture that they could not change no matter what the truths and the realities are. If the word tourism appeared anywhere in my mail it was interpreted as terrorism, dates meant weapons …. etc, ask them how much they foolishly spent to send more than one agent to St. Louis to intercept a package sent to me that contained dates. You would think that they learn and come to their sense after failing time and again to prove their theory but like Mr. Cannick said
“they dug their heels instead”.
This obsession made the prosecutors lose touch with normal reasoning. Listen to what they wrote regarding the trust people had in me and HTN
“indeed, their degree of trust was so high that each of these witnesses testified at trial that they remained reluctant to distrust Rafil Dhafir, even after seeing the bank records that showed his corrupt and longstanding violation of that trust.
Perhaps to a degree unique to this case, a two point enhancement for abuse of position of trust is appropriate” (page 26 of the government’s memorandum).
Because the government failed to convince even their own witnesses of their imaginary allegations, they ask the court to punish me for their failure!!!!
In the government’s memorandum they say this about Mr. Ayman Jarwan:
“Although he has occasionally disagreed with the government’s interpretation of the evidence, maintaining a willingness to trust Rafil Dhafir where the government does not …..” (page 10)
They didn’t even want to listen to their own witnesses.
They wrote in their documents that they could not believe that I can be so generous when I go to my office only three days a week. Where does he get all this income from?
Again they painted a picture that I had to fit. They didn’t check to see that the average physician works in his office 3 – 3 ½ days a week only. They didn’t bother to factor in that I was not poor by any means (until now), that I have been a physician for over 30 years and had a sizeable return on my investments.
Don’t believe a word of what I am telling you, ask them and go over their own records. The same subjectivity that ignored the fact that for years, even before HTN was founded I sent money to Mr. Maher Zagha through his bank account here to secure a house for my remaining family in Iraq when they fled Saddam’s tyranny. It is this very subjectivity which ignored the fact that I paid from my pocket, in cash, for people to do work for HTN and never claimed it on my tax return. It is the same subjectivity which ignored that I donated about $75,000 to HTN in 2002 and never claimed it as a tax deduction. It is the same subjectivity which decided to hide the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated from outside the US and deposited in the Islamic Bank to facilitate HTN’s work. The list goes on and on, so much so that Mr. Cannick extracted from Mr. Kolbe himself that
hiding information is tantamount to lying.
When I was handcuffed and thrown in the backseat of a car against my will, without explanation, in the early hours of Wednesday February 26th 2003, I was concerned about my wife and my patients who were scheduled to be seen that day. I was told that my wife would be notified. But no solution was offered to care for my patients, hundreds of them, in spite of repeatedly reminding my jailors that there was no doctor available to care for them in that area.
Eventually scores of patients died due to lack of care and others died grieving over the fact that the only doctor they had was now incarcerated and could no longer care for them. These patients were not Iraqis, Arabs or Muslims, but instead red blooded Americans from all walks of lives. With the shutting of HTN operations, hundreds of thousands of children, women and men suffered. It would be near impossible to count how many of them died. I gathered that no one actually cared. They are foreigners, they are not of us, they don’t look like us nor do they believe as we do. The only concern was to put an end to this demonable Dr. Dhafir.
It would have been a non issue had an alternative doctor been made available or a different relief organization continued the relief work in Iraq. But there was none provided.
At the very outset of my being charged, the government callously misrepresented facts to this court. During the bail hearing they represented to the court that I had a vast amount of funds available to me in Jordan and Canada. The trial showed clearly without doubt that at the time they made that misrepresentation to this court they knew very well that there was none. Absolutely none.
They also went out of their way to explain how easy it would be for me to cross the borders into Canada walking, especially during winter, over ice and snow (naturally they couldn’t say the same for summer, spring and fall). Then the truth came out when the District Attorney here boasting, trying to calm people about his ability to defend against terrorists crossing the borders, said that no one can cross our borders without him knowing as he had put sensors along the borders. When confronted with this, showing him to be untruthful to this court, he said that these sensors detect only people coming into the US not leaving out.
This was a pattern of misrepresentation to this court. I say “misrepresentation” reluctantly because my lawyers tell me never to mention the word “lie” in a court. You may say disingenuous but never say a lie!!! Can we forget when the government was caught flagrantly lying during the trial about a check for MMC. This was only a continuation of the lies presented to the grand jurors as the record showed. I am sure the court remembers that the government never apologized to the court for this intentional and shameful misrepresentation but rather justified it with another lie. They said that they lied to benefit me during the trial! Surely the court can appreciate my surprise when you consider this unexpected “generosity” coming from individuals who seem to have dedicated their lives to ruining mine.
The government’s misdeeds did not stop even after Feb 10, 2005, the date the trial concluded.
In this lengthy letter sent to HTN’s donors dated July 26, 2005 and as a continued campaign to demonize me and HTN, the US Attorney, justifying his squandering of HTN funds which he froze and prevented from reaching the needy by giving it to a Jerry Lewis–like organization where most of the donations are eaten up by salaries and trips for the workers, shamelessly writes
In this way, the government has attempted to fulfill the covenant of charity that was chosen by HTN’s donors.
The government chose to hide how they frustrated HTN’s lawyer Mr. Scott Porter for over a year when I instructed Mr. Porter to send all the money frozen by the government to Iraq in the form of wheel chairs badly needed by the war victims. Detailed arrangements were made where the vendor was going to match these funds whereby the number of wheelchairs will be doubled. Only to be blocked by the government because HTN refused to plead guilty.
Hypocrisy comes in many forms as the US Attorney has clearly demonstrated in this incident.
Mr. Scott Porter is still alive and the court may check with him in addition to the emails and the letters that are in our possession to prove it.
In the old country’s proverbs it is said
“if you have no shame then do as you please”.
Ignorance of different cultures and reality on the ground made it easy for the prosecutors to misrepresent many facts. They shouted
“if you care so much about the needy how come HTN had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank unspent?”
The tragedy of the Tsunami last year answered this question, when the Red Cross pleaded with donors to stop sending money because they (the Red Cross) could not spend the donations fast enough even though the area hit was in bad need. Anyone who works in the field of relief understands this. There is a bottleneck which must be respected and dealt with. This is reality. If the US government and Saddam removed that bottle neck, HTN not only would have no reserve but it would have been in the red in expenditure to save lives.
Our discussion of the reality in Iraq during the Washington meeting clearly addressed that and many other realities, but were conveniently ignored and hid by the government.
This brings me to the Washington meeting. It is unfathomable to me how the government could conclude that what was discussed at that meeting as being nefarious.
Things taken out of context, sentences chopped off and omitted and words mistranslated made the meeting look like we were attempting to take over the world. Who would believe that Pat Robertson, the zealot self-proclaimed evangelist, said:
“I don’t like Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior …….”
no one would believe that he actually said it, on tape. The problem was that this was a chopped statement. What he said was
“I don’t like Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior, being dumped in a vat of urine by a homosexual and then have my money to pay for it! I think that’s obscene”.
It’s like saying that Mr. John Doe is a terrorist expert and deleting the word expert.
I hope that I made my point clear. Almost two hours of recordings are missing from that meeting! Coincidence! I think not. It’s also peculiar that they didn’t bring the other two members who attended the meeting to testify. The government proved that it was not stupid to sabotage their own theory. Just as the multiple tapes of the secret recordings of the HTN managerial meetings in the HTN office were all “miraculously” unintelligible or without sound. This is after boasting to the grand jury of their meticulous work to document things.
Never mind the innumerable hours of taping of my intimate life in my home which they deny its existence.
The fact was that the content of these meetings refute, beyond the shadow of the doubt, the government conspiracy theory. The contents would have shown a group of eager, selfless, amateur men trying to help an entire unfortunate nation, nothing more, nothing less.
Showing the content of these tapes will be a blow to the government case. So why not hide it. In that Washington meeting, we went over the history of how HTN evolved. How, in order to save money, HTN piggy backed on another organization, not to hide what we do, or cheat on taxes, how we were amateurs, clearly unaware of the regulations pertaining to NGO organizational structure, reporting requirement, licensing …. etc. As these things became clear to us steps were made to correct them. Professional people were hired, as we said to,
“do things by the book”.
Little did we know that our accusers, fearing that they would have absolutely no case against HTN once all the irregularities were corrected, not only blocked the paper work submitted by HTN to the authorities for licensing but physically prevented HTN workers from correcting all these by imprisoning them.
The date of Feb 26, 2003 for our arrest was not an accident but by design.
I plead with the court to read the Washington meeting transcript deeply and carefully to see how we have evolved and how we wanted to abide by the law. We had no bones to pick with the US government or anybody. We had nothing to gain but everything to lose by “breaking” the law as alleged by the government. We even instructed our workers in Iraq to stay clear from Saddam so that they will not be killed or imprisoned thus hampering our work.
The meeting clearly shows us stating that we made mistakes, unintentional mistakes, and we outlined how we were proceeding to correct them.
Practically all the allegations against HTN and its work were addressed in that meeting. Yet our accusers chose to pretend they didn’t know. They knew very well that we were talking about the future plans when someone first mentioned the importance of Da’wa as compared to relief. In that meeting, one attendee clearly explained in a whole paragraph what he meant by Da’wa. Our accuser chose to put their own interpretations not our definitions, they mischievously replaced the word “mistake” by the word “wrong” and the phrase “as a result” by “in order” and the word “utilize” by “taking advantage” to make us look bad.
HTN and its workers were accused of trying to hide the fact that relief was being sent to Iraq. There is nothing more absurd than this. You don’t advertise in national and international media if you want to hide something. You don’t print brochures and open bank accounts in your organization’s name if you are hiding something. And why should we hide it in the first place? We were honored to be able to save lives and help the needy. In the fall of 2002, a few months before my incarceration, a reporter by the name of Zolnick from Seattle, Washington contacted HTN by email inquiring about its activities. HTN’s response to him was exactly what we were doing of feeding the needy in Iraq. If we wanted to hide what we did, the last thing we do is tell a reporter who would certainly publish it. The email exchanges between HTN and Mr. Zolnick were in the HTN’s computers which the government knew months before raiding our homes and offices. These emails were confiscated and never returned to us or shared their contents with our lawyers.
The government in its attempt to silence critics hinted that money was going to the Iraqi government. There was no proof for that and they knew it. As a matter of fact all reports generated by HTN talked about how important it was to stay away from the Iraqi government and how the Iraqi government clamped down on NGOs. Then the government hinted that the money was going to Saddam, as if Saddam needed the relief we provided. As we have learned recently from the Oil for Food fiasco, the American corporations and the US government’s help to Saddam was more than enough. He needed nothing more from us.
Recent articles, investigations and alike have shown the world how just ineffective the oil for food program was. It did exactly what we made sure did not happen with the money donated to HTN. Oil for food proceeds went to laced pockets of Saddam and other fat cats.
Of course to demonize HTN and its workers the subject of terrorism had to be inserted there somehow. Ashcroft and Pataki did their pitch. The government did not step up to refute these statements but instead stood idly by and allowed my name and that of HTN to be tainted.
When Mr. Fountain, an officer at the Justice Center spoke disrespectfully to me, I demanded that he speaks to me with respect. He replied:
“I will not talk with respect to someone who is sending money to Iraq and buying bombs to kill Americans”.
His lieutenant Ryes stood by laughing lifting no finger to do right. In retrospect, I should not have been angry or disappointed at them because their misinformation about me was being provided by the Attorney General of the US as well as the Governor of the State of New York.
Months ago, when I complained to the Lieutenant in charge at Jamesville Facility about one of his officers harassing me during my prayer, the Lieutenant appeared very sympathetic to me and told me how he, as a Christian, does not judge people and that he treats all with respect. He then went on to say that never in a million years would he believe that I brought money into the United States to kill Americans!!
Where did he come up with those thoughts if it wasn’t the government that fed him this? Even the President of the United States labeled my case as a “terrorism” case. See the detailed article of the Washington Post on June 12, 2005 about this issue. Then would anyone be surprised if I questioned whether I could ever get a fair trial?
If no clear motive can be established, why did the government keep insisting that there was a plot to hide things?
Who will even question HTN if it issued its workers outrageous salaries? No one seem to question the CEO’s of the United Way or the American Cancer Society or even Jerry Lewis, when he pockets 85% or more of what he collects for the Muscular Dystrophy on Labor Day weekend as business expenses! Even if it was half of that figure, would the government be satisfied if we did the same? We would NEVER do it. We would never steal food from the mouths of the hungry children of Iraq.
Working in administrating and propagating HTN took tremendous toll on my time. I could have easily spent more hours in my practice to net at least one million dollars a year for my personal gain. I didn’t. According to the government I was busy plotting to “steal” a fraction of that from my own money.
The day will come when people will realize what we did in managing HTN. They will realize that this is the way a relief NGO should be run, selflessly, by dedicated people who will not milk it, work tirelessly and frugally, literally saving every cent that they receive and spend it only for its intended use and on top of that give their own money to facilitate its functions.
The memory of one of the prosecutors, posturing, as if he was in Hollywood acting like Perry Mason, pointed his finger at me and said “he betrayed the trust” did not escape me. It did not take Mr. Cannick long to return the favor when that very same prosecutor was caught lying, O’, I am sorry being disingenuous. Not a single person came on his/her own and accused me or any of HTN workers of betrayal. The question that was asked of a couple witnesses by the government was
“how would you feel if you found out that your money did not go to where you intended it to go”.
This is a generic question. It has nothing to do with HTN specifically. I wonder how those who gave to Jerry Lewis or to the United Way would respond to this question when they find out where their donations go.
Not a single donor to HTN demanded his/her donations to be returned to our knowledge. That is an impeccable record for an amateurish NGO. Not only with all the demonization and the bad mouthing of HTN by the government, people continue to send their donations to HTN as recent as a few weeks ago. Decent people know who is truthful and who is not.
Throughout these proceedings the government has consistently referred to Mr. Zagha as a “fugitive”. This simply is not true.
Fugitive is running away or fleeing according to the Dictionary. Mr. Zagha is a Jordanian citizen, who lives in his home country. How can he be a fugitive?
If he is a bad person how come the government did not even make an attempt to extradite him? How come his interrogation by the FBI, Jordanian Security, the US Embassy staff in Jordan and the Interpol were not released? Why did the government refuse to release or play to the jury, a taped phone conversation they themselves arranged with him through one of my co-defendants and why did they object to taking Mr. Zagha’s deposition after initially agreeing to do so. What were they afraid of? I am not an attorney but isn’t this obstruction of justice? Isn’t a trial a search for the truth? If a trial is a search for the truth and it is fair then why block what you don’t want to hear? It is better to block what exposes you and shatters your theory of innuendos and allegations. The government proved it time and again that they were good at it.
They referred to this phone conversation in their statements. But what the government quoted was a fabrication no where to be found in the official transcript of that conversation.
This is the part of conversation the government refers to dated 1-12-04:
ALWAHAIDY: Basil told me you are in Sham, I have
a question brother, the people here called me about Sayed Badawi.
ALWAHAIDY: Sayed Badawi.
ZAGHA: what did they ask?
ALWAHAIDY: they showed me an email, and told me there is something between you, him and Rafil, concerning money; they are asking me, but I don’t know about Badawi, they don’t believe me, the people.
ZAGHA: There is in Canada, what’s his name?
ALWAHAIDY: who? oh this man in Canada his name Abdullah, what’s his name? Abdullah…
ZAGHA: No not Abdullah, remind me. Wait a minute. Aha…(pause) he is Rafil’s friend.
ALWAHAIDY: I don’t know his name.
ZAGHA: that guy the…
ALWAHAIDY: the Imam?
ZAGHA: Sufian, Sufian, Sufian.
ALWAHAIDY: Oh, Sufian.
ZAGHA: Talk to him he has all the information, I don’t have any information concerning him (Badawi), Sufian has all the information, because his people are investing in bids in Jeddah, you know.
ZAGHA: I don’t have any idea concerning him, but I know he (Sufian) will be useful to you.
ALWAHAIDY: Sufian from Canada. They are asking information about him (Badawi), frankly these things are puzzling me, they don’t believe I don’t have a hand in the matter.
ZAGHA: It’s okay, you talk to Sufian, talk to Sufian he has all the complete information, you know.
ZAGHA: The money has been invested with the chamber of commerce, with Sayed Badawi, it was government contract bids, school contract bids, school contract bids; all the information with Sufian, if there is anything.
ALWAHAIDY: Okay, the other thing they are trying to convince me that Rafil used the money for personal use, that’s unbelievable.
ZAGHA: No, no, nothing, nothing, anything of money used for his personal, absolutely.
ALWAHAIDY: There isn’t any personal money.
Nowhere do we find anything about a $213,000 mentioned by the government in the newspaper.
Need I say more? They saw the world as they wanted it to be seen not as it really is.
Where is the justice in letting them get away with this?
Allegations about phone calls made or received by me were everywhere from Ramon Rivera to Trebble to even the IRS. A government that spent tremendous amount of money in their case but could not come up with a single phone registry to prove these allegations. It was simple. There was none. By now every one knows that if there was any they would have had joy in producing it. At the same time they confiscated all my documents and refused to turn over my phone bills. These bills clearly show how I repeatedly called Ms. Trebble to arrange for the information she requested to be handed over to her so that HTN complies with all the legal requirements which HTN recently learned it had to do.
Naturally they didn’t bring other HTN employees as witnesses because they would have testified that all the needed information to complete the so called form 990 were in a box ready to be shipped to Ms. Trebble upon her return to work from her surgery.
I am sure that now after hearing this, the government will manufacture all sorts of things. We have seen evidence of how that works. Remember Mr. Rivera’s mysterious note? – The post-it!
What’s in it for me if Mr. Jarwan gets paid this or that? He could have been paid any amount that is customary but HTN made it clear that it was going to be frugal. The government hid information which clearly showed that I had nothing to do with the visa application for Mr. Jarwan and that evidence is Mr. Jarwan’s statement during one of his interviews which the government refused to release for a long time. In that interview Mr. Jarwan was reported to say that he didn’t care about the regulations. He just wanted to get what he wanted.
After learning that the government had illegally spied on our most intimate lives, I told my wife that I feel like a naked man walking along Main Street. She in return told me that she feels like she was in a fish bowl. I will never forget that day when she was, in this court, describing how she was attacked by over 80 agents with guns to her head threatening and terrorizing her, some heartless people from the government were laughing and giggling in the back of this court. My Quran tells me about these people
“Those who were wicked used to laugh at those who were righteous. And whenever they passed by them, used to wink at each other in mockery. And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting. And whenever they saw them, they would say, “Behold! These are the people truly astray!” But they have not been sent as keepers over them. But on this Day the righteous will laugh at the wicked. On throne of dignity they will command. Will not the wicked have been paid back for what they did?”
My wife was so traumatized the day she was attacked in her home, that it took her almost a year before she could concentrate enough to read a newspaper, a magazine or a book.
For four months I had to endure sitting quietly in this court while lies, deceptions and awful subjective conclusions were being made to make me look like a monster.
I endured this travesty, the question is will my accusers be able to endure their punishment in the Hereafter? We shall see who will be laughing at whom. I promise you that I shall never erase this from my memory. For me to remember that you can put on fancy suits, talk eloquently and cite the law, yet under that façade is the worst evil that thrives on innocent people’s misery. I am convinced that in the end truth and justice will prevail.
Someone will have to explain why at least four of the jurors were crying when their verdict was read? Was this a cry of joy or a cry of guilt? And why did one juror turned around, looked at me and apologized by saying “I am sorry” as she was leaving the courtroom? You do not feel sorry for doing the right thing. You feel sorry when you do wrong.
Why are you making a fool of yourself? Don’t you realize that the court has already made up its mind? One might ask. If the court has not made up its mind, I hope that this will be of help. If on the other hand, if nothing will change the court’s mind then this will serve as a reminder come the Day of Judgment, when the Real Judge will judge, that no one will say I didn’t know.
The court is in an unenviable position. The prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, said that:
Judges are of three kinds, two will be doomed and one
will be saved. The one who judges wrong due to ignorance or judges wrong knowingly, will be doomed. Only the one who judges right based on knowledge will be saved.
I hope that the court will be of the third kind by going over the facts carefully especially after what it had exhibited of common sense during my hearing regarding the issue of the strip search.
The prophet also said:
“God is with the judge as long as he is just and fair but when he departs from fairness and becomes unjust and tyrannical, God leaves him alone and the Devil attaches himself to him”.
Count your blessings Rafil that you are not in Abu Ghraib or GITMO prisons. May be! But I don’t know which is worse. I am kept with anywhere from 35 – 64 individuals. The majority of whom constantly use profanity in expressing themselves. A number of them have hygiene issues. I guess this is common in prisons. Recently a kitchen employee was caught spitting in each food tray before serving them to the inmates. No one knows how long this has been going on or if other employees do the same. I can’t count the times I was asked how to spell the words “is” and “the”. On TV the only thing you are allowed to see if you are interested in social issues is the “great” Jerry Springer show, if you want words of wisdom you have to be content with Homer Simpson’s and if you like to see what is going on in the world you have to be glued to “CJ”. I live in a bathroom with a bed in it they call a “cell”. I have not been able to carry out a meaningful conversation with anyone for 32 months with the exception of my wife and my brother’s visits, the visits of my friends and my Imam. To my mind this is torture par excellence. Prison has taken its toll on me but I pray for strength and endurance.
Better people were accused of worse things throughout history. The name of Jesus, peace be upon him, is ever shining but the names of his accusers are no where to be found. How many people recognize the names of the rulers of Egypt? But every one knows the name of Moses, peace be upon him. Can anyone even mention one name of those who persecuted Nelson Mandela and imprisoned him for decades? But his name is uttered with reverence.
I am no Moses; I am no Jesus; and I am no Mandela but I know that there will be a day when all of us will be before The Judge. On that day the full truth will come out and no one, absolutely no one, will be allowed to lie or hide the truth. On that day the weak and the oppressed and the wronged will be compensated and the arrogantly powerful, the oppressors and the wrong doers will get their due.
I am not afraid, I will not humiliate myself. I will not beg anyone but my Creator for His justice.
Apologies are in order. I, first and foremost, apologize to my Maker for not worshipping Him the way He deserves and is entitled to. I apologize to the Prophet for not emulating him as I should. I apologize to my wife, who was deprived of my companionship and I of hers, because I was so entrenched in helping the Needy. I thank her for understanding and not complaining. I hope I will be able to make it up to her, if not in this life then surely in the next.
I apologize to the Iraqi needy for not helping more, but my hands were tied and now I am incarcerated. I apologize to my Muslim brothers and sisters for not spending enough time helping them with their affairs.
I apologize to all those who have faith in me, supported me in all forms and avenues and who believe in my innocence that I failed to convince the decision makers of my innocence as I don’t know how to lie and twist the facts. With them I share this:
Two individuals came to the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, arguing about a property to judge between them. He said:
“I am but a human being I can easily be influenced by one of you who is more eloquent than the other and judge for him wrongly.
Let it be known that if I judge wrongly to the one who is not entitled to it then I am giving him a glowing stone of fire.”
Someone in this court is holding on to a glowing stone of fire, and that someone is definitely not me.
It is my belief that my incarceration was, is and will always be political. The facts speak for themselves. The order for my incarceration did not come from the local US District Attorney’s Office. It came from Washington, from Mr. Ashcroft himself. The government claimed they started looking into HTN and the Doctor in 1999, even if we take them at their word (and it’s a fact that this was not true) then why after almost three years, it took only 3 – 5 weeks after September 11, 2001 for the government to start the grand jury hearings which were conducted by the government as a lynching party. Read the transcripts for yourself. Coincidence? Hardly! Why Mr. Ashcroft never mentioned anything about the 60 allegations in his news conference but he and Governor Pataki clearly mentioned “terrorism” as the reason? This was so outrageous that even the Post Standard, which has been anything but sympathetic to me, had to denounce the government’s behavior at least twice. Why only three weeks after my incarceration Iraq was invaded? Too many coincidences one would wonder.
When my home was ransacked, one of the government’s main targets was my library. They nearly emptied it. What did they take? They took my Islamic books, they came looking for books of certain authors and took all these authors’ books. They took Quran recitation tapes even though these books and tapes are available at any book store.
They didn’t touch my Encyclopedia Britannica, my Encyclopedia of the American History, none of the books of Richard Nixon or Henry Kissinger, nor Norman Schwarzkopf, the memoirs of President Bush Senior, James Baker or Colin Powell. Not the history books about the Jewish People, the famous Books of Eba Eban, the Israeli foreign minister, certainly not the book about the life of Golda Meier. None of the different versions of the Bible including the Arabic Bible were touched nor the books of the Jewish Laws. None of the books confiscated from my library have been returned. What do these books have to do with Medicare, HTN and taxes? I think the court should know this.
I would like to draw the attention of the court to the fact that my accusers never stopped trying to imply a political agenda for our relief work. Look at the presentencing report. It had to put the word “Salafi” in there.
Salafi simply refers to (as Dr. Smari testified) those who follow the footsteps of their righteous ancestors. Despite the testimony of Dr. Waleed Smari regarding its meaning, the government continues to give the word Salafi its own meaning and attaches a nefarious spin to it. This court will not be patriotic if it is not Salafi by following the laws of the Founding Fathers of this republic.
Every good American should be a Salafi.
If some Salafis did something someone is not pleased with then no one has the right to prosecute all. Just as no Christians should be jailed or harassed for professing Christianity because of what Jim Jones, David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh did in the name of Christianity.
As bad as Pharaoh was and as evil as his entourage was, there was a pious man of conscience in his court. This man refused to play the tune of tyranny that was practiced by Pharaoh.
This man said to them --
“O my people today you have the upper hand and the dominion, who will help and protect us from the wrath of God should it befall us”.
I know that someone in the entourage of my accusers will some day and somehow have a call of conscience and put an end to this parade of deceptions, lies, travesty and injustice and tell the truth, the simple factual truth that will save his/her/their souls and free the innocent. It’s better to be done now and not later to prevent more harm on top of what’s already done.
I am 58 years old and in the twilight of my life, few more years, or even days, and I will be gone forever from this life, proud, with my head high.
My accusers will ever carry the shame of injustice and the blood of those who died needlessly because of their actions, not to mention the real punishment by The Judge on the Day of Reckoning.
I did not kill anyone. I did not hurt anyone and I did not do anything wrong intentionally.
My imprisonment will end sooner or later or I will die but it will end, but the punishment for the liars and the wrongdoers will be forever and ever with absolutely no end.
Why are you telling us this now? Where were you during the trial?
For the first time in my life I was thrown into a boxing arena with my hands tied behind my back, blindfolded and my legs shackled then told to defend myself against Goliath.
My computers were confiscated, my documents were seized, my bank records hid from me, my personal library was ransacked; books which have nothing to do with the allegations were taken. To this date I am denied to see for myself what was actually taken so that I can retrieve evidences that will refute all the allegations beyond the shadow of the doubt. I will not talk about the cash taken from my car and my home which went unreported.
I am sure that the court recalls the difficulties I had with meeting my attorneys and our ability to review documents. We were not allowed to bring certain evidence. Moreover I was never alone with my attorneys. I had to talk to them from behind a glass partition over a phone while inmates and guards were nearby. We had absolutely no privacy. Also there are hundreds of thousands of documents, many in Arabic, housed in the government building.
During the preparation for trial I was not allowed to go there to review these items or any of my properties that were confiscated. The government’s position was that it was available to my attorneys really does not answer the question. None of them can read, write or speak Arabic. I was literally physically prevented from defending myself.
In order for me to have meaningful access to these documents, I had to see them because basically I was the only person who knew what they meant.
Since the end of the trial we have requested the return of these items. It should be noted that we made requests long before that but it has been since the end of the trial where the government has consistently promised that they would be returning my properties including my religious and literary books taken from my library which have nothing to do with the government’s allegations.
My lawyers were right when they told me that these were just empty promises and that if I was to receive these items, the government would simply string me along until sentencing.
I was also dumbfounded when my lawyers informed me that the court rules do not allow you to say things as you please even if it is relevant to the trial. As an example, we were not allowed to argue that when a group of heart surgeons intentionally billed Medicaid millions of dollars for services not rendered they were never charged. Instead their corporation was slapped with a misdemeanor and a fine. None of these surgeons was paraded in shackles, their homes raided, nor the members of their churches’ and synagogues’ harassed. Of course - because none of them were Arabs.
This did not happen on the moon. It happened right here in Syracuse. But we couldn’t say anything about this at anytime. Is this the justice the government preaches? The irony of all this is that this group of surgeons was represented by one of my attorneys.
When the government was confronted with this, they said yeah but these surgeons did not violate IEEPA.
But when the fine men and women of Voices In The Wilderness refused to even pay a fine for their defiant violation of IEEPA, the government said yeah but these individuals did not commit Medicare fraud.
We were not allowed to bring this up. This is the “justice” under which I was tried. It seems that the government had a custom tailored sets of laws that fits only Dr. Dhafir. No one else.
My lawyers advised me not to take the stand. Now this was very strange to me. They said that this would be dangerous. Why I asked? They said because human nature, being what it is, that jurors would likely shift the burden of proof to me as opposed to it remaining with my accusers. These are well experienced lawyers and I have to believe them. But this very fact shows the fallibility and the unfairness of the system.
Great Nations, powerful nations were destroyed throughout history simply due to the injustice they practiced. The Romans, the Greek, the Pharaoh’s, the Persians to mention a few.
What was the result of Feb 26, 2003 besides imprisoning innocent people? Scores of innocent elderly American cancer patients died needlessly, innumerable tens of thousand 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 its place.
But I have learned long ago not to look and dwell on the negative, rather enjoy the positive.
Feb 26, 2003 brought people who never knew each other together for a common cause to fight tyranny and injustice. The letters I received from people I never knew from our community, the nation and from our neighbor Canada were amazing. The support I got from people of all walks of life including my jailors in prison brought tears to my eyes. I will always cherish the letters I received from children with their cute remarks. Like the one child who attended a rally for me with posters reading “Free Dhafir”. She was asked by another child what does “Free Dhafir” mean? She replied that means go to Dr. Dhafir and he will give you free ice cream.
My “girlfriend” Nur hardly missed a week without writing me. When she left to go overseas for a family visit she wrote a stack of letters, put them in stamped envelopes and gave it to my wife with the instructions that a letter be mailed to me every Monday so that I will not be lonely. You see Nur is only 7 years old and I was there when she was born.
The Government may imprison me, lie about me, demonize me, torture me, deprive me, or even send me to the guillotine, but they will never be able to take away my satisfaction with the smiles of the fed children, nor the gratitude of the satisfied mothers, fathers and the elderly for whom HTN had the privilege of providing.
No one should expect anything less than justice from this court or any court, and we shouldn’t.
The early Muslim Judges have given the prime example of fairness and justice in their rulings. They were never influenced by the sweet talk of the accusers or the shameful production of flimsy outrageous “evidence”. Certainly there was no room for subjectivity.
I am comforted that the courts still honor that Islamic legacy of justice that has survived over fourteen centuries now by wearing its symbol. The robe that the court wears is the robe of honor initiated by the Muslim judges centuries ago. The honor and dignity that this robe represents is not by its physical appearance but by the actions it demands.
With all due respect to the court, I shall never bow my head to any mortal nor will I beg anyone who cannot produce what they don’t have.
Although my attorneys have told me that this is not the proper procedure, I ask this court now that the facts, the “subjective” allegations, the documents and the testimonies are all known to the court, I urge the court to take the time and go back to review all court orders, search warrants and the authorizations for mail and phone interceptions as well as the grand jury transcripts to see how the court was lied to and deceived by my accusers into issuing these orders.
I know that I am a lonely voice that might not be heard but I know that my Creator is not deaf. He tells me “Do not lose heart nor despair as you have the majesty if you show faith”.
You really have nerve Doctor to come here today and say all these things to annoy the judge this late in the day. You sure know how to dig your own grave, one might murmur.
When I asked for advice on what to say in court, just about every one I asked, advised me of two things. Don’t be personal and do not annoy the judge.
Now to this date I don’t understand what not to be personal means. I was attacked in person. I was shackled in person. I was thrown in jail in person. This didn’t happen by itself. So how am I to defend myself? I can’t figure this one out.
As far as annoying the judge, I would like to assure the court that this thought never occurred to me. My bones are not with the court but rather with those who, in my view, made a mockery of the court and abused their power. In the event the court is annoyed by my remarks, and I hope that the court is too big and smart to be, I say this “it is better to be annoyed in this life than to be annoyed in the Hereafter by the Real and Supreme Judge, The Judge of all judges.
I, and others, were demonized and paraded as common criminals by some who claim the higher moral ground because they have unlimited resources and power and are accountable to no one. These are the ones who froze hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by good doers destined for the needy in Iraq. They have no shame in depriving the children of these badly needed funds. They prevented us from spending it and refused to do it themselves. If the government was much concerned about funds properly going to help the needy, why did they block every effort and proposal we provided for them to spend these funds as long as it does not go to the pockets of the government or the Jerry Lewises. The government was more interested in HTN pleading guilty before the funds are unfrozen.
As my earlier counsel put it,
“Dr. Dhafir was accused of just about everything, it is surprising that he was not accused of abducting the Lindberg child.” Or something to that effect.
I hear both sides argue about how many months or years I should be incarcerated, so that the judge will make a final decision. The duty of the court is not to put number of years or fines, the duty of the court is to make justice prevail.
If the duty of the court is to plug some numbers in a pre-written formula to come up with an answer then there is no need for smart judges. Machines will do a better job, faster and cheaper.
The court might say that it is not the duty of the court to do that, if you don’t like it show us what you can do in an appeal court. I ask the court not to give a negative answer to my request and then have a de-ja-vu with another Arthur Anderson, where innocence was restored, but only after an entire corporation was dismantled and tens of thousands lost their jobs, not to mention the multitude of good names of some fine citizens tarnished unfairly.
Timothy Lynch, the Director of Project on Criminal Justice, at the Cato Institute in Washington wrote to the Wall Street Journal Editor on June 16, 2005 regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in the Arthur Anderson’s case.
“The key decision-makers on the Anderson case have been speeding along the career fast track since the trial conviction in 2002. The legal defeat at the Supreme Court will not change that. Ambitious young prosecutors learn on the job and take notes. Want to move up to a higher office? Deliver the political scalp. Now consider the incentives for the business person who finds himself in the crosshairs of a prosecutor who is
willing to file reckless criminal charges. Even a CEO who is inclined to defend his firm’s reputation and conduct has to think twice. After all, if an established giant like Arthur Anderson received the death penalty even when it “won” in the Supreme Court, what is the point of mounting a ruinous defense? Better to cave in and pay millions in tribute to make the government and all of the negative publicity go away. The criminal justice system stinks. If our criminal laws were not so vague
and voluminous it would not be so expensive to deter and defeat an overzealous prosecution.
Legislator created this mess, of course, so the injustice will continue to fester until there is a strong incentive to fix the system.”
On the same page of Wall Street Journal, Ashley A. Hartley of San Francisco, who lost her job at Arthur Anderson and later worked at another company, wrote:
“when a colleague popped her head over my cube wall and said ‘The Anderson conviction was overturned’, I was brought to a sudden halt. I enjoyed a brief feeling of vindication we were not such bad guys after all! I knew it! And the moment passed. It’s sad that a proud firm lost its reputation and business over error”
She goes on to say --
“when the vindication was announced, many of us indulged in a moment of ‘might have been’ – the moment was sweet but short. The ‘Anderson Days’ were great”.
And on the same page, Harvey A. Silverglate, a lawyer from Cambridge, Massachusetts who is writing a book concerning abusive federal prosecution, wrote:
“You understand with clarity the depredations inflicted by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on the state’s legal system and any business or person unfortunate enough to lie in Mr. Spitzer’s dangerously ambitious crosshairs. The Spitzer problem does indeed
grow out of his, and sometimes the law’s, failure to specify precisely what conduct is illegal. However, you put on blinders by claiming that ‘The justice Department has understood this, and has built a record in business fraud cases that has held up in court on Enron,
WorldCom and Adelphia’. In fact, the reasons the feds have more success in court than Mr. Spitzer is because federal law has been so corrupted that most law-abiding citizens probably commit three arguable felonies each day without even knowing it.
The reason for the Justice Department’s success is that the federal courts have aided and abetted in contorting the law by affirming dubious convictions for dubious crimes. The Supreme Court’s welcome reversal of the Arthur Anderson conviction, one hopes, signals a counterrevolution rather than a mere blip in the continuing degradation of the federal criminal code”.
I have been in jail against my will for almost a thousand days and counting. The number of months or years you all agree about is meaningless to me. I shall not rest until my name is cleared and those who think they are accountable to no one will be exposed and served what they deserve.
I am not arrogant or cocky. If I knew I committed a crime against anyone intentionally, even against an animal, I will be rushing to beg for forgiveness.
When one of my attorneys tried to finesse my defense early on, he was sternly reminded by me that my defense is only for the truth to be told as is. I wish my accusers were decent enough to abide by this ethical standard.
When I was young I had my dream set on age 45 for accomplishing everything that needs to be accomplished and then retire for my own selfish self, but then the older I got the more I realized that there was no such an illusion as “retirement”, that there is more in and for life than the selfish desires, that 24 hours a day are not enough, Allah knows how much I tried. I am satisfied every time I see a smile on a child’s face who had nothing to eat for days until HTN came to help, and the prayers of the parents of these children for the help they received. All the money in the world can not even come close to competing with that satisfaction. I say to the government if you want to jail me for that go ahead but do it as men and look me in the eyes and don’t lie hiding it with the cloak of IEEPA, conspiracy, Medicare and other innuendos. Be men and don’t be males only.
The court is astute and needs no guidance for it to be told what to do, guidelines are for the amateurs. The court is to abide only the guideline it set for itself of common sense and decency.
I am grateful to all of those who saw what this was all about, be it males or females, young or old, Arabs or non-Arabs, natives or foreigners, Jews, Christians or Muslims.
I am grateful that the letters to the Editor were all supportive of me and my efforts. I don’t recall even one letter siding with the government after the truth came out.
Most of those who supported me are unknown to me personally but I am honored and proud to earn their trust.
I am proud that I lived all my life as a law abiding citizen with the laws of my Creator being the supreme. I never took anything that did not belong to me. When I volunteered as the president of Islamic Society of Central NY, I paid 25 cents on my own for every personal phone call I made on the Society’s phone. When you look you will see that I never even had a traffic ticket.
It’s the court duty and responsibility to make sense of all these facts. The Court will have to look hard and not do injustice on top of the injustice already committed.
I harbor no disrespect to the court or anybody but I do have contempt for those who abuse their authority, those who put their personal interest and careers over that of the public, those who trounce upon the very laws they pretend to uphold.
I echo the words of Abdul Rahim Dost, another prisoner of conscience, as reported by the San Francisco chronicle on July 7, 2005
“Just as the heart beats in the darkness of the body, so I, despite this cage continue to beat with life. Those who have no courage or honor consider themselves free, but they are slaves. I am flying on the wings of thought, and so, even in this cage, I know a greater freedom.”
On Wednesday Aug. 31, 2005 two days after Katrina hit the south, I, like most concerned citizens was watching with horror the destruction and the devastation that afflicted the helpless people in New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulfport among other cities.
John Roberts of CBS interviewed countless people who were angry that no help found it way to them, more than 48 hours after Katrina hit. No water, no food, no shelter, no medicine. A man jumped to his death from a bridge in despair.
The mighty government of the United States did not deliver. The President of the United States flew over the disaster area in his jumbo jet, but did not set foot on the ground nor did he meet or directly console the frightened hungry and thirsty citizens he took an oath to protect and take care of until 5 days later.
Instead he stood at the White House, well dressed, surrounded by a bunch of well fed, well groomed people promising that “aid is on the way and we shall be victorious”, while people were pleading for help. Just a little bit of water cried a woman for her infant child. FEMA was missing. The Red Cross was busy collecting money. The United Way had vanished and Jerry Lewis was no where to be found.
I was not surprised. As a matter of fact this was precisely what I, and those who worked in HTN, expected to happen. Bureaucracies do not save lives. They are not used to it.
Talking to Tim Russet of “Meet The Press”, Aaron Broussard, the President of Jefferson Parish said on September 4th, 2005
“Bureaucracy committed murder”
It is the same bureaucracy that prided itself in saving all but 3 animals of New Orleans Zoo but forgot to save the people of New Orleans.
As I was watching that carnage, which needed not to happen, in the richest country of the world, I wept that HTN would sure had made a difference by teaching these “self-proclaimed” professionals what selfless dedicated little guys can do as we did for the needy Iraqis but instead we are thrown in jail.
The Tsunami and Katrina are a vindication of HTN and its workers. It was the workers in the churches, temples and mosques that provided the urgent relief in Louisiana. Groups like the Islamic Relief, Mercy-USA and ICNA Relief.
I can say with confidence that HTN provided relief and saved lives in Iraq during the years of its activity more than all the government and non-government relief agencies combined. And we are grateful to our Creator to be given such an opportunity and privilege.
I didn’t kill anybody.
I didn’t lie to the court.
I didn’t hide evidence.
I didn’t terrorize 150 peaceful families.
I did not knock the door over on a helpless woman in the predawn hours.
I did not invent the ridiculous story about the trash.
I didn’t break into peoples’ homes illegally.
I didn’t tamper with evidence.
I did not alienate a segment of our Community.
I did not squander millions of tax payers’ money.
I did not obstruct justice.
I did not deceive the court.
If someone wants to imprison me for this so be it.
The government was truly interested in their plotting against us. If they were sincere in trying to make things according to their law, all what they had to do is knock on our door and say “Boys you are not doing things by the book. Here is the book, read it and comply”.
If we didn’t then they were justified in what they did. But that was too easy. It would not have justified the millions squandered by the government.
My words might fall on deaf ears. It matters not. Because The One who really counts is not deaf.
I pray for you Judge, that as you courageously did the unthinkable when you personally came to the jail where I am to solve the issue of the strip search, that you be guided again to do the right thing and investigate the real conspirators before rendering a judgment.