Monday, February 14, 2005



Targeted Muslim Doctor Convicted
Supporters Shocked and Surprised

Dr. Rafil Dhafir arrested on February 26, 2003, as a potential terrorist (to read Ashcroft Statement was found guilty on 59 of the 60 charges against him. When the terrorist claims failed to materialize the government expanded its case to include Medicare fraud and other charges. Dhafir was found guilty of charity fraud, breaking the sanctions against Iraq and Medicare fraud among other things. He was only acquitted of charge 3 in a 60-count indictment that dealt with money laundering.

Two of the jurors left the court room in tears looking at Dr. Dhafir appearing as if they were trying to say they were sorry.

Dr. Dhafir is to be sentenced on June 20, 2005.

Dr. Dhafir is one of the only, if not the only, person to be arrested for breaking the sanctions against Iraq. The only thing that distinguished Dr. Dhafir from the others that similarly defied the sanctions was his Muslim faith.
In a pretrial motion Defense Attorney Devereaux Cannick asked that the charges be dropped against Dr. Dhafir because he was being selectively prosecuted (To read the motion Because of this pretrial ruling the judge did not allow the defense to raise the issue of selective prosecution and ask why Dr. Dhafir was being targeted when countless other individuals had blatantly and willfully defied the sanctions and were not charged. This has been documented with testimony from those that similarly defied the sanctions at:

In another pretrial ruling the Judge prevented the defense from questioning why Dr. Dhafir had been arrested--so they could not raise the issue of terrorism and the government's intent in arresting Dr. Dhafir. Arguably this handicapped the defense.

Going into the trial there was a question as to whether in a post 9-11 environment the Dr. could find a fair jury. In an effort to find an unbiased jury the court sent out a pretrial 44-page questionnaire to prospective jurors. Some of the comments that came back were very racist. To r
One of the contentious issues of the trial had been the coverage of the trial by the local paper, the Syracuse Post Standard. Several supporters set up blogs to document what they saw as unfair and prejudiced coverage.

Dr. Dhafir's supporters were shocked and surprised that he was convicted of so many charges. Several that had attended the trial on a regular basis questioned whether they had been sitting in the same courtroom as the jury. Others said that this was another sign that there are two systems of justice in our country--one for rich and white folks, the other for the poor, people of color and Muslims. Some saw deeper symbolism and wondered what this verdict says of our country referring to a recent Cornell study that found 44% of Americans would favor restricting the civil liberties of Muslims in America (To read the survey go to:

The lawyers were going to meet with Dr. Dhafir to determine what they were going to do next, if anything. I am hopeful that the defense will move ahead with an appeal.

The one bright note of the Dhafir trial was the Dr. Dhafir was never charged with terrorism--so he was never convicted of terrorism. The sad thing is that he was not allowed to wipe this smear from his name in court!

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