Rafil Dhafir is an Iraqi oncologist who was distraught about how both Saddam Hussein and the US-prompted sanctions were devastating his homeland. He had a successful practice in Syracuse, New York and created a charity to send a great deal of his own earnings back to Iraq. He was doing so until, in 2003, John Ashcroft devised a sweeping and grossly unfair dragnet designed nominally to stop funding terrorists, but which swept up Dhafir and which resulted in his prosecution and sentencing to prison for a stunning 22 years.The government found plenty of illegal aspects of Dhafir's operations--he was careless about his Medicare bookkeeping and his charity was afoul of US tax laws--but it was the confluence of his violation of the crushing sanctions on Iraq and his Iraqi identity that drew his arrest, conviction, and bizarre sentence for sending humanitarian aid to people in dire need.
For donating $1.4 million of his own money to help children and other victims of Iraq's collapsed health care system (the government did not charge him with funding terrorists), Dr. Dhafir is in a small percentage of US prisoners sentenced to more than 20 years. Many convicted of rape, armed robbery, and manslaughter serve less time.
If you might like to write Dr. Dhafir, who has been sick:
#11921-052- Unit HB
Federal Medical Center, Devens
PO Box 879
Ayer, MA 01432