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U.S. Indicts Four, Charity for Sending Money to Iraq
Wed Feb 26, 1:22 PM ET
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal grand jury in Syracuse, New York, has returned an indictment charging four people and the "Help the Needy" organization with illegally transferring millions of dollars to people in Iraq.

Video Four Charged in Sending Millions to Iraq
(AP Video)

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The Department of Justice said in a statement that the indictment, returned earlier this month but unsealed on Wednesday, charges four defendants and "Help the Needy and "Help the Needy Endowment Inc" with conspiring to transfer funds to Iraq in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The defendants named in the indictment are Rafil Dhafir, 55, Maher Zagha, 34, Ayman Jarwan, 33 and Osameh Al Wahaidy, 41. All but Zagha were arrested in Syracuse Wednesday.

Dhafir, Zagha and the two organizations were also charged with 12 counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The indictment accuses the defendants of conspiring to transfer funds and other economic resources to Iraq since 1994. It said they used the name "Help the Needy" to solicit contributions from people in the United States, deposited the funds in accounts in New York banks then laundered much of the money to Iraq through accounts in the Jordan Islamic Bank in Amman.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to funnel over $2.7 million through the Jordan Islamic Bank.

If convicted, Dhafir and Zagha face up to 265 years in prison and fines of more than $14 million. Jarwan and al Wahaidy each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine while the organizations face maximum possible fines of $14 million.


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