Free Rafil Dhafir
"Our goal is to educate the American public about the government's treatment of Dr.Rafil Dhafir. Dr. Dhafir was targeted for breaking the IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers--Iraqi Sanctions) because of his Muslim faith. He is a political victim of an overzealous government that is willing to bend the rules-as we show on this web page-- to win a trophy in the war on terrorism."
We Demand An Answer
We accept US Attorney Glen Suddaby's Offer of February 10, 2005 to address the community's concerns over the conviction of Dr. Dhafir. A rally was held on February 25, 2005 at the Federal Bldg and the following letter was hand delivered to the Federal Prosecutor. Another letter was delivered on March 11, 2005Follow-up calls were made on-3/4,3/9
February 25, 2005
Dear Mr. Suddaby,
As a supporter of Dr. Dhafir I have been monitoring his case closely for the past two years. I take exception to your comments reported by the press on February 10, 2005 on the day of his verdict.
Could you please explain to me the following?
To my knowledge, as my website notes, only a few organizations have been charged with breaking the sanctions. Further those few organizations charged faced civil not criminal charges like Dr. Dhafir did.
2) It seems that much of the investigation of Dr. Dhafir was about his breaking the IEEPA laws. If breaking IEEPA was so egregious an act why did you not similarly bring to grand jury all the people that openly flouted the sanctions by traveling to Iraq as published in numerous articles in the Syracuse Post Standard? The Syracuse Post Standard even ran an article entitled "Other Groups Helping in Iraq not Prosecuted," by Renee Gadou March 7, 2003. Enclosed are several articles published by the Post Standard about the local travelers to Iraq?
3) In your press conference you inferred that because the Dhafir investigation began in 1999 it had no connection to 9-11, implying that it was not a witch-hunt to win trophies in the war on terrorism. Why then did you choose to go to grand jury in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 on October 17, 2001? Why this date?
4) Further if there was no 9-11 connection why was the Defense Department brought into the investigation? My understanding is that the Defense Department blessed the investigation in the summer of 2002.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Madis SennerSyracuse, NY 13206
March 11, 2005
Dear Mr. Suddaby,
In your February 10, 2005 press conference you said, as you have said before, that you would like to meet with the Muslim community. If you are sincere about making amends with the Muslim community I suggest you begin with a sincere gesture and remove the terrorist smear your office and other government officials have stained Dr. Dhafir with. An apology would be nice.
I am troubled by how Dr. Dhafir has been unjustly smeared and called a terrorist by the government. Several US attorney's in your office, Mr. West, Mr. Green and others were part of a government ring that either implied or directly called Dr. Dhafir a terrorist. Yet your office successfully argued in a pre-trial motion that Dr. Dhafir's defense team could not bring up the issue terrorism or question the government's intent in arresting Dr. Dhafir.
I was chagrined to learn that the government could make a claim, especially one so pernicious as calling someone a terrorist, and then later get the court to prevent the abused from bringing up the claim in court. As a person of faith I think it is reprehensible that one can be smeared and not be allowed to defend themselves.
Jesus teaches us that scandalizing someone, particularly one of faith such as Dr. Dhafir, is the most odious of sins:
"But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea." Mt, 18:6.
Similarly one of the Ten Commandments says, "[T]hou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor" (IX).
Consider how the government on numerous occasions has smeared Dr. Dhafir.
On the day of his arrest then US attorney general John Ashcroft said that Dr. Dhafir was a terrorist. "As President Bush leads an international coalition to end Saddam Hussein's tyranny and support for terror, the Justice Department will see that individuals within our borders cannot undermine these efforts."
Mr. Ashcroft's comments had a very deleterious affect on Dr. Dhafir and led the media into a feeding frenzy. I wonder what drove him to make such a bold and outrageous accusation?
Then a few days later the Syracuse Post Standard reported (Witness Freed, Suspect Held: Iraqi Charity Probe March 4, 2003) that US attorney West implied that Dr. Dhafir's associate Ayman Jarwan was a dirty bomber in a bail hearing.
On June 20, 2003 the Post Standard ('Iraqi Uniform in doctor's home, Court Paper's say; Dr. Rafil Dhafir's Lawyer Asks the Judge to Step Down, Citing Son's Military Service') reported that your office was positing questions of terrorism with those close to Dr. Dhafir:
"Prosecutors have been asking witnesses whether Dhafir "surreptitiously traveled to Afghanistan," whether he was a longtime mole for Iraqi intelligence, whether he met with a high-ranking al-Qaida official, and whether he'd used the code word "tourism" for terrorism in e-mails, Menkin wrote".
""But they exist in sufficient reality for the government for it to continue to investigate and posit these assertions in questioning the many people who have known Dr. Dhafir," Menkin wrote".How could Dr. Dhafir properly defend himself when you are asking his supporters and witnesses these types of questions?
I that same article US attorney Green was quoted as saying that although no terrorist link had been found to Dr. Dhafir that did not prevent one from being found in the future.
Then one month before the trial NY state governor Pataki smeared Dr. Dhafir as a terrorist in conjunction with the arrest of two Albany Muslims. The smear was so egregious that the editorial page of the Post Standard weighed in ('Fear and Dhafir', August 8, 2004)
"Gov. George Pataki unfairly smeared a Central New York doctor Thursday when he linked Rafil Dhafir and his charity for Iraqis to terrorist organizations. Pataki's public remarks seemed to confirm what Dhafir and his supporters have been saying all along - that the federal case against Dhafir is a political prosecution as well as a criminal one…"
"Pataki, who is trained in the law, should stick to the facts and not contribute to the climate of fear".
Enclosed you will find a copy of the Post Standard editorial.
Then when the trial began you filed a motion to not allow the defense to bring up the issue of terrorism and won. Dr. Dhafir was not allowed to defend his name from this most heinous of smears--to be called a terrorist. To me this is not justice.
Is it in the spirit of the founders to accuse someone of something and then not allow him to defend himself? Clearly the government's smear of Dr. Dhafir contradicts the beliefs and tenets of what many of us cherish about our great country.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
PS I have still not gotten a reply for my previous letters. I have left two messages with your secretary about it.
-------Dr. Rafil Dhafir-----
Please note. I am no longer directly advocating for Dr. Dhafir. Instead my focus has expanded to look at the political prosecutions of Northern District of NY US Attorney Glen Suddaby and the over assault on Muslims and Arab Americans by the Bush Administration. You can learn more about this by going to:
In addition to Dr. Dhafir the following cases pursued by Northern District of NY US attorney Glen Suddaby were overzealous attempts to muffle dissent (ST. Pats 4) and get Muslim trophies (Aref) in the war on terror.
In addition to this web page their are numerous other sources to learn more about Dr. Dhafir:
The case of Rafil Dhafir, a Syracuse NY based oncologist of Muslim faith and Iraqi descent, shows what can happen when a zealous justice department (FBI) and an eager prosecution are willing to bend the rules to win a conviction. To our knowledge he is the only person to convicted of breaking the sanctions against Iraq.
To learn about the legal web the government is creating with the Dhafir case and other cases to snare other compassionate citizens read; ‘The Case of Dr. Dhafir’--Part I , ‘The Case of Dr. Dhafir’--Part II
Smear--Race Baiting: On the day (2/26/03) of his arrest then Attorney John Ascroftsaid that Dr. Dhafir's arrest was part of the effort to prevent terrorism ahead of the war with Iraq. With the country still reeling from 9-11 and bracing for war with Iraq the terrorist smear created a media frenzy and reinforced the most prejudiced perceptions of many in our community. Arguably Dr. Dhafir was never able to remove this stain.
Even after the government was unable to find a terrorist link, politicians such as NY State governor George Pataki were still smearing Rafil and calling him a terrorist as late as one month before the trial (8/05/04).
The government's smear campaign was so successful that the defense team asked that potential jurors fill out an advance questionnaire to determine if they were racist and suffered from Islamophobia.
Silencing support--Intimidating Character Witnesses. On the day of his arrest approximately 150 predominantly Muslim families were inappropriately interrogated because they had donated to Rafil's charity. This was more than a violation of their civil rights it was a dagger to the heart of Rafil's support base, as well as potential witnesses.
As the case of Wen Ho Lee shows us, it is the defendant's ethnic community that provides their greatest support.
"I had never paid attention to Asian American people creating organizations and raising their voices. I don't think I even knew of any protest rallies by Chinese or Asians in America. I was quite amazed to discover that there were so many demonstrations about my case and the impact it was having on other people." Page 299, My Country Versus Me, Wen Ho Lee
Similarly, Quantanamo Bay's Muslim Chaplain Captain Yee was able to win his freedom from the support and efforts of the Chinese American community. The importance of a defendant having a strong community support base is not lost to the government. The government has made sure that Muslims Americans, particularly in those in the Syracuse area, are too scared to speak out in support for persecuted Muslims.
The Syracuse Post Standard reported how the government was intimidating those close to Dr. Dhafir (Iraqi uniform in Doctor's home, Court papers say; Dr. Rafil Dhafir's Lawyer asks Judge to step down, Citing son's Military Service) on June 20, 2003 by John Obrien:
"Prosecutors have been asking witnesses whether Dhafir "surreptitiously traveled to Afghanistan," whether he was a longtime mole for Iraqi intelligence, whether he met with a high-ranking al-Qaida official, and whether he'd used the code word "tourism" for terrorism in e-mails, Menkin wrote.Ed Menkin was Rafil's original lawyer.
"Menkin said he learned of those lines of inquiry from prosecutors and from Ayman Jarwan, who was questioned by investigators after he pleaded guilty in April. Menkin described the allegations as rumors and said they were completely untrue.
""But they exist in sufficient reality for the government for it to continue to investigate and posit these assertions in questioning the many people who have known Dr. Dhafir," Menkin wrote.
Other smears. As was done with Muslim Chaplain Captain Yee, once the terrorist claims failed to materialize the government heaped additional charges on Rafil such as with Medicaid fraud. This served the government in several ways. 1) It was a further smear that tarnished Dr. Dhafir. 2) It muddied the waters (something that served the prosecution well during the trial) 3) It turned attention away from the civil rights violations to "criminalizing" Dr. Dhafir.--this proved to be a handicap in gathering support in the activist community. 4) It saved the government's public face once the terrorist charges failed to materialize. 5) It also increased the job for the defense team.
Preventing Dr. Dhafir from properly defending himself. The government used a variety of ploys to hamper Rafil from defending himself. The first and foremost was denying him bail and limiting lawyer client meetings to conform to the rules of the jail. (The fourth bail motion notes several other efforts by the prosecution to mislead the defense. )
The federal prosecutors also resorted to dirty tricks from the Ascroft playbook such as misleading the defense over matters such as negotiating for bail. Devereaux Cannick, Rafil's lawyer, began negotiating for bail with the prosecution when he took over in August of 2003. As was the case with the Lackawanna six, there were never any good faith negotiations, only a ploy by the prosecution to get the defense to spend time and effort away from the case. He was ultimately denied bail four times and spent 2 full years in jail from his arrest to conviction on February 10, 2005 for essentially white-collar crimes. Many of his patients suffered because of this and for many it was a life and death situation.
Suppressing Support/Activism. When the defense began negotiating for bail Dr. Dhafir's supporters were advised by the legal team, I assume by the prosecution-although I do not know for sure, to cease and desist all support efforts. We vehemently objected. For over three months we sat on our hands losing precious time and momentum.
The government also suppressed support for Dr Dhafir as well as violating his civil rights by denying legal counsel access to visit Rafil. On Monday November 17, 2005 when Royce Hawkins part of the legal team went to the Justice Center, just as he had been doing for over four years, he was denied access. It is clear that his not being allowed to visit Rafil was tied to his picture along with other Muslims being in the newspaper for a rally we had on the previous Friday.
Because Royce was a local Muslim preventing him from entering the Justice center potentially sent out another message to local Muslims--this can happen to you also if you speak out and help! (We were not sure whether the government thought of this when they detained Royce, but we certainly factored it into our decision making.)
As noted in the 4th bail motion hearing on January 27, 2004, Sergeant Pawlina of the Justice Center said that he was instructed by the government to deny Royce access. This was a clear violation of Dr. Dhafir's sixth amendment right to defend himself. It is also proof positive of the collaboration of various departments of the government to stifle support for Rafil. (Click to read the transcripts of the bail hearing -- See page 19 for the Powlina comments.)
When we decided to hold another rally in front of the Justice Center immediately after the Eid prayer ending Ramadan (November 25/26, 2003)--Islam's holiest of holy days--Dr. Dhafir was moved to Jamesville Correctional Facility. This was no coincidence, but rather a message to supporters, because the Justice Center is acutely aware of Ramadan and the needs of Muslims. It even prides itself on its sensitivity to Muslim needs as noted in the article, "Jail bars bend to accommodate religion -Observance of Ramadan for Muslim inmates includes altering meal times", Syracuse Post Standard, Renee Gadoua, October 18, 2004. We were advised that the move to Jamesville could mark the beginning of the government's strategy to continually move Rafil from one jail to another around the country--Ohio tonight, Colorado tomorrow, etc… We did not hold the Eid rally.
Hog-tied and not able to defend himself. The prosecution was able to convince the judge to rule in their favor over several pre-trial rulings that in effect hog-tied Rafil and prevented him from defending himself.
The first was to prevent the defense from raising the issue of terrorism and the government's intent in arresting Dr. Dhafir. Can you imagine? The government smears you in the court of public opinion by calling you a terrorist and then does not let you defend your name and honor..
The Judge also ruled against the defense request for a dismissal ( Click to read dismissal motion ) on the grounds Rafil was being selectively prosecuted because of his Muslim faith and Iraqi background. He clearly was. ( Defense Replies to Govt response on Dismissal) We even set up a web page Operation Free Dhafir and solicited numerous letters from travelers to Iraq such as Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness to show that Rafil was the only person to be charged for breaking the sancitons against Iraq. Not only did the judge rule against the dismissal motion but also he prevented the issue of selective prosecution being raised during the trial.
Courtroom antics. A lot of misleads and lies took place in the courtroom. In his closing arguments defense lawyer, Devereaux Cannick even accused the prosecution of breaking the law because they knowingly let a witness lie. For more on the court room antics go to the following two blogs:
Shine the light--The government's Achilles heel. Given the government's extreme measures to smear Rafil and suppress public support in the court of public opinion, it is obvious that they are very sensitive about their public persona. We ask everyone to join in our effort to expose what the government has done to Dr. Dhafir and let justice be served. Even if it is too late for Rafil, we can help keep others from being similarly treated and prevent more injustice and tragedy from occurring.
Dr. Dhafir's lawyer Devereaux Cannick can be reached at: 718-426-0444. You can contact his office about donations to Rafil's legal fund.
If you would like to become a supporting group or need to contact me please email me:
To read the Original web site pre-verdict more links and information.
JOIN RAFIL'S LIST SERVE TO KEEP ABREAST OF DEVELOPMENTS!
Pray for Dr. Dhafir
Pray for brother Rafil because he is being un-justly punished for what he felt called to do; to help those dying and suffering from the harsh sanctions placed upon Iraq in the 1990’s.
Pray for brother Rafil because he is a devout Muslim, a child of God. He is a “Hafiz”, one who has memorized the Koran verbatim. He started the mosque in Syracuse and was its first director.
Pray for brother Rafil because he was a generous man. He gave in anonymity; he loaned students money, slipped envelopes of cash to recently widowed Muslim women, let patients slide on expensive chemotherapy medication charges, he even gave money to the Syracuse Police Dept. to buy a horse for its mounted division, Sgt. Sundance.
Pray for brother Rafil, because the crime done to him is crime done to all of us. Every facet of our government was turned upon this man so that he could be hoisted like trophy on top of stick so that bellicose and violent people could claim victory in the war on terror. His treatment shows us that there is no justice or democracy left in America.
Pray for brother Rafil, because it is only God that can save him. No appeal, no technicality, no high-priced lawyer can rescue him—he was abandoned by the justice system long ago.
Pray for brother Rafil, and in doing so put your faith and trust in God. Remember the words of Jesus when he healed the sick and said your faith has saved you.
Pray for brother Rafil and in doing so make that faith strong and deep.
Pray for brother Rafil, for with him lies hope, hope that justice may be served in our country. Hope that in saving him God may also save our country.
Pray for brother Rafil and look to God, because only God can save Rafil.
Peace, shalom, salaam
Say this mantra when you can “God will save Dr. Dhafir.”
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN. 47808
Have You Spied On US?
Dhafir Supporters to File Requests
Monday February 6th
3PM Federal Bldg Syracuse NY
Congressional hearings on the Bush administration’s spy program are slated to begin Monday February 6, 2006. On that day supporters of Dr. Rafil Dhafir will be gathering at J. Hanley Federal Bldg. in Syracuse NY at 3 PM to announce that they are filing Freedom of Information Act requests with various government agencies—FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, NSA.
We Were Spied On
“I know that we were spied on”, said Dhafir supporter Madis Senner. Dhafir supporters have always claimed that the government monitored and pursued their actions in support of Dr. Dhafir.
Dhafir supporters are quick to cite the fourth bail hearing when it became public information that one of the legal team was denied access to the Justice Center to visit Dr. Dhafir. This was a clear violation of his sixth amendment right to counsel. Fourth Bail Motion
“On Friday November 15th 2003 we had a rally in front of the Justice Center. Royce Hawkins (a local Muslim and part of the legal team) had his picture taken and it appeared on the cover of the local section of the Syracuse Post Standard the next day(Saturday).” Senner stated. “On Monday November 18th Royce was denied access to the Justice Center,” Senner continued. “Do you think that it was coincidence that the prison denied him access? A place he had been visiting unobstructed for 4 years previously,” Senner asked.
Court testimony during the 4th bail hearing revealed that Sergeant Powlina of the Justice Center had been asked by the government to deny access to Royce.
"Denying Royce access was more than about spying, it was about intimidating Dhafir supporters," Senner proclaimed.
“The only question is whether government agencies are willing to fess up and say they spied on us,” Senner continued.
Senner thinks that government agencies will follow President Bush’s example and de facto declare executive privilege. For example, they could claim information gathering was part of a criminal investigation or that they have no information.
“The truth will come out--either through honest responses to our requests or in other ways,” Senner said in reflection. “The world needs to and will know the truth about the government's treatment Dr. Dhafir and his supporters.”
Brother Rafil Sentenced
Syracuse NY--On October 27, 2005 Rafil was sentenced to serve 22 years in Federal Prison. To read about the sentencing click on the Sentencing Press Release
Brother Ayman Gets 18 months
Everyone was surprised when Judge Mordue sentenced Ayman Jarwan to serve 18 months in Federal Prison. We were surprised because Ayman had plead guilty, worked with the government and testified as a governnment witness during the trial. Because he is Jordanian it is highly likely that he will be deported back to Jordan after he serves his time. In Jordan he faces the prospect of torture. To read more about Ayman click on Ayman's Homepage
Legal Expert on the Dhafir Case
Jennifer Van Bergen, author of The Twilight of Democracy , explains how the government turned a white collar crime into terrorism. And how they taking the Dhafir case, the St. Pats 4, Lynne Stewart and tying them together to create a web to snare others.
SentencesOsameh Al Wahaidy2 YEARS PROBATION, $5,000 FINE, 100 HOURS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE
PriscillA Dhafir-2 YEARS PROBATION, $10,000 FINE, PAY MEDICAID $62k, 150 HOURS COMMUNITY SERVICE
William Hatfiled-2 YEARS PROBATION, $15,000 FINE, 150 HOURS COMMUNITY SERVICE
Ahmed Ali -2 YEARS PROBATION, $10,000 FINE
ActionsApril 24th--A vigil Was held Sunday evening at 7 PM on the SU quad by the Sacco and Venzetti memorial for those affected by the Dhafir Inquisition. It followed the State of Repression conference
March 11th--We delivered our second letter to US Attorney Glen Suddaby.
The New Standard (TNS)
Fellowship of Reconciliation
MSNBC-Patriot Act Victim
Syracuse Peace Council 2-04
Syracuse Peace Council 9-04
Syracuse Peace Council 2-05
NewsOperation Imminent Horizon
150 Muslim Familes ?'ed
Denied BailWhy Grant Bail
Bail Motion-Gov't Antics
Appeal of Bail Denied