Columbia man gets 3 years for sending money to Iraq

Thursday, May 17, 2012 | 6:06 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — A Columbia business owner and community leader has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for illegal sending of more than $200,000 to friends and family in Iraq while the country faced U.S. sanctions.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Shakir Hamoodi, a Middle Eastern grocer and former University of Missouri nuclear scientist, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Jefferson City. A sizable group of Columbia residents attended the hearing in support.

Hamoodi pleaded guilty in December 2009 to violating federal sanctions against Iraq by sending money overseas from 1991 to 2003. He faced up to 71 months in prison, but Judge Nanette Laughrey cited Hamoodi's efforts to increase cultural understanding of Muslims in mid-Missouri in giving him a lesser punishment. He is scheduled to report to federal prison on Aug. 28 after his observance of Ramadan.

"I made a mistake, and I am deeply sorry," Hamoodi told the judge. "All money sent was used by friends and family."

Laughrey noted that while others facing similar charges received lesser penalties, those defendants sent less money and committed fewer transactions. Hamoodi's efforts evolved into what the judge called a nine-year conspiracy.

In September 2006, federal agents searched Hamoodi's Columbia home but found no proof that the Iraqi native and vocal critic of the war in his home country was aiding the Iraqi government through his financial contributions.

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Garrett Heenan suggested that the final destinations of Hamoodi's contributions were difficult to determine. Hamoodi could have obtained a license during the sanctions through the Department of the Treasury, but that would have only allowed for the transfer of goods, not money. His shipments included money sent by other Columbia residents to help their own families.

"The problem during the (Saddam) Hussein era is that we don't know where the money went," the government lawyer said. "I understand money could go to family and charities, but the money could be taxed by Hussein."

Hamoodi said the search on his home caused his family to be ostracized by some neighbors and hurt sales at his World Harvest market. Charles Atkins was among the more than 20 supporters who gathered after the sentencing to express their support for Hamoodi.

"He really has a heart for helping people," Atkins said. "Now it is our turn."

Hamoodi's case is not related to the federal investigation of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a defunct charity that was based in Columbia but closed in 2004 after the government said it helped finance global terrorism.

Mark Siljander, a former Michigan congressman and U.S. delegate to the United Nations who lobbied on behalf of that charity was sentenced in January to a year and one day in prison by the same federal judge. The group's former executive director, Mubarak Hamed, was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for sending more than $1 million to Iraq through the charity in violation of U.S. sanctions. Three others involved in the charity were sentenced to probation.

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Louis Schneebaum May 17, 2012 | 11:03 p.m.

Our country imposes sanctions that harm innocent people abroad, and then punishes those who try to help them. Merkuh!

(Report Comment)
dylan gessner June 21, 2012 | 10:07 a.m.

You know, this is really pathetic. Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton starting in '95- did Saddam Hussein not reap the benefits of Halliburton's presence in Iraq as they restored Iraq's oil industry? I think so! And then Dick Cheney became Vice President...

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 21, 2012 | 10:39 a.m.

"did Saddam Hussein not reap the benefits of Halliburton's presence in Iraq as they restored Iraq's oil industry?"

No, Saddam Hussein reaped the benefits of the U.N. "Oil for food" scandal. Around 2B$, I believe.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub June 21, 2012 | 12:43 p.m.

Frank, there is much more to the story than just oil for food. Here is a good read about the report and the shady dealings of Bush, Cheney and friends from both sides. You may want to read the whole story but this link starts on page 3.

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 21, 2012 | 2:09 p.m.

Gary - I plugged "those indicted in oil for food scandal" into google and got An information laden piece from a WSJ reporter and Wikipedia in about two minutes.

How long did you hunt for yours, which is covered by the WSJ lady in, "The oil-for food scandal the biggest heist in the history of humanitarian relief. It involved thousands of contractors in dozens of countries and Saddam personally obtained vast sums of money from the program.

There was tho,"damning" evidence at the last. "Wyatt is an integral part of the same Texas oil circles as the Bush family." Please?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor June 21, 2012 | 3:20 p.m.

Frank, don't look now, but oil for food is coming back in to the spotlight again soon.


Maurice Strong, the godfather of global environmentalism and organizer of the United Nations' 1992 Rio environmental Earth Summit, is making a quiet comeback to the limelight on the eve of that meeting’s successor, the Rio + 20 summit on "sustainable development," which starts June 20 in Brazil.

Controversy, along with radical environmental and economic views, is what Strong has long been known for. He took up residence in Beijing in 2005, after serving as the U.N.'s special envoy to North Korea, when investigators of the Oil for Food scandal uncovered the fact that he had cashed a check for nearly $1 million from Tongsun Park, a South Korean political fixer later convicted of conspiring to bribe U.N. officials on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

So, we have a life long socialist who has been calling for revolution of the global economy cashing million dollar bribe checks while doing business with Sadam and North Korea. You would think the U.N. wouldn't want anything to do with this guy, since the whole world already thinks the U.N is corrupt and not to be trusted.

You would think...

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 21, 2012 | 3:21 p.m.

I wrote,...""damning" evidence at the last."

I should have written, "at the last of your piece"

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 21, 2012 | 3:51 p.m.

Mike - And we pay these people and give them shelter and protection in NYC! Reagan quit paying because of the theft of millions from an "education" program for 3rd world countries back then. Gary could condemn W. Bush for paying up those back dues, as I do. Have not yet heard him.

A Fox news reporter related recently that Assad's father, 10 years ago killed 10,000 of his Syrian people, "and the world did nothing. Assad has killed nearly 10,000, and again, the world has done nothing." He forgets that Hillary Clinton makes a saddened speech every so often. If we allow our progressives to reduce our country to the level of the others, dependent upon this despotic entity (U.N.), there will no longer be a "free world".

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro June 21, 2012 | 4:30 p.m.

("Missouri: Muslim who illegally sent funds to Iraq gets sentence reduced because of his "efforts to defuse cultural ignorance toward Muslims")
("Indictment Says 5 Men Sent Money Illegally To Iraq")
("On September 1, 2011, the US 5th Circuit Appeals Court was scheduled to hear arguments on behalf of five convicted Holy Land Foundation (HLF) principles: HLF Co-founder, President and CEO Shukri Abu Baker received 65 years in prison; Co-founder, Chairman and former Executive Director Ghassan Elashi also got 65 years; Mohammed el-Mezain, former Chairman, Head of California Operation 15 years; Top fundraiser Mufid Abdulqader 20 years, and Abdulrahman Odeh, Director of HLF East (New Jersey) 15 years.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has created at least two CMUs, or Communications Management Units, (Terre Haute in Indiana and Marion in Illinois) where overwhelmingly inmates are Muslim which include Ghassan Elashi, co-founder of Holy Land Foundation and Rafil Dhafir, an American doctor born in Iraq who was sentenced in 2005 to 22 years in prison for violating sanctions against Iraq by sending money to a charity he had founded there, as well as for fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and a variety of other nonviolent crimes. He had no terrorism convictions or charges.")
(U.S. Muslim Charities and the War on Terror")
("Suit Challenges Ultra-Restrictive Prison Units")
Why can't we all just get along?
Oh yea. Because they hate the West.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor June 21, 2012 | 4:36 p.m.

Russia had the nerve to cry foul when Britain stopped one of their ships heading to Assad to deliver attack copters and such... The funny part is they didn't have to use force. The insurer was a british company and the EU sanctions against arms to Syria include "facilitation" so the company had to cancel the insurance policy for the ships owners.

Ha Ha!

(Don't get started on the U.N. I think if the two of us said all we wanted about those crooks, we would blue screen this in no time...)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams June 21, 2012 | 4:54 p.m.

MikeM: Yeah the UN (and the current US administration) just spout blah, blah, blah nonsense under the guise of "doing" something.

Toothless tigers who say, "Yeah, you're gonna get it now!"

PS: I laffed when I heard what Britain had done insurance-wise.

Good planners, the Brits.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub June 22, 2012 | 1:14 p.m.

Frank, My only point was to show the huge amount of hypocrisy in sending a man to jail for helping his family while some of our leaders were making enormous amounts of money by dealing with Iraq when there were sanctions in place.

As for the UN you would not have been able to have your precious wars in Iraq w/o them. Of course there is a lot of corruption, but whenever a lot of money is involved there always is. Crime follows money.

(Report Comment)

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