Keystone Kops and Kurds?

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A post at MaxSpeak claims that some Kurdish expats from Iraq in Virginia are being railroaded by the FBI over some innocuous financial transactions. I don't have the time to look into it today… but if someone else wants to, I'm happy to harness the power of the blogosphere (i.e. your unpaid labor) and write about it later in the week.

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  1. You might want to start here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawala

    That is probably the “unlicensed” method used to send the money. If it really is a crime, every first-generation Asian or African immigrant should be locked up.

    As the Wikipedia article illustrates, this is a cheap and efficient way for people of limited means to transfer money to extremely distant relatives. The only evidence of it ever being used to fund terrorism is in India. In the US, the 9/11 murderers used the regulated banking system.

    The Interpol link under “External links” is worth a look, too.

  2. I just e-mailed my mom about this. She lives in Rockingham County (just North of Harrisonburg). She is helping a Kurd get his GED. He came home from school one day and found that his home had been razed, and his uncle was a professor who was killed by Saddam’s security forces.

    Now the guy is a truck driver (and wants to start his own business). His wife (Kurdish as well) works at Wal-Mart. I know he sends money back to his family in Iraq.

    It would be just typical for the gov’t to screw these people over like this.

  3. I searched the website of the Harrisonburg paper the post referenced and found no mention of this. Maybe they didn’t put this story online, but this is a paper that puts stories about parking meters on the front page of their site; I think a local Homeland Security / War on Terror story would be big news there…

    In other words, let’s not jump to conclusions.

  4. Here we are. The announcement of the indictment also alleges that they were taking money from HUD under false pretences.

    October 21, 2005

    FOUR MEN INDICTED FOR TRANSMITTING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OVERSEAS ILLEGALLY

    January 30, 2006

    HARRISONBURG RESIDENT RASHEED QADIR QAMBARI CONVICTED OF TRANSMITTING MONEY OVERSEAS ILLEGALLY

  5. I am Barkley Rosser, the guy who put the post up originally on Maxspeak.

    Let me answer the bit about the HUD charge. This is total crap. The charge is based on a ledger in Kurdish that was presented during the trial. A Croatian translator was there so no cross-examination was possible. The basis of the charge was the the prosecution claimed that there were two bank accounts when there was only one. Why? One bank bought out the other.

    Let me emphasize. None of these people made any money out of this. They were helping people in the community send back money to their families. None of these are remotely terrorists. They are technically guilty of operating a money transfer operation without a license, but one of them tried to get such a license and never even could find out how to do it.

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