Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dr. Dhafir Helped Iraqi Orphans. He got 22 years for "unauthorized" Charity.

I was very honored to have met with Dr. Rafil Dhafir on Saturday August 15, 2015 at the Federal Medical Center prison in Devens, Massachusetts. Dr. Dhafir is the founder of the former Islamic charity, Help the Needy, which supported orphans in Iraq during the brutal post-Gulf War time when Iraqis were literally starving to death. Even though Christian organizations were also accused of breaking the sanctions on Iraq, Dr. Dhafir, now 67, was criminally charged for running an unauthorized charity and sentenced to 22 years in prison, 13 of which he has already served. His current release date is April 26, 2022. He has been at Federal Medical Center at Devens, MA for the past four years, I just learned. I decided to pop by for a visit.

For those wanting some background information on the charity doctor's case, I recommend: where he proclaimed:

"The day will come when people will realize what we did in managing HTN. They will realize that this is the way a relief NGO should be run, selflessly, by dedicated people who will not milk it, work tirelessly and frugally, literally saving every cent that they receive and spend it only for its intended use and on top of that give their own money to facilitate its functions...

"After learning that the government had illegally spied on our most intimate lives, I told my wife that I feel like a naked man walking along Main Street. She in return told me that she feels like she was in a fish bowl. I will never forget that day when she was, in this court, describing how she was attacked by over 80 agents with guns to her head threatening and terrorizing her, some heartless people from the government were laughing and giggling in the back of this court. My Quran tells me about these people "Those who were wicked used to laugh at those who were righteous. And whenever they passed by them, used to wink at each other in mockery. And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting. And whenever they saw them, they would say, "Behold! These are the people truly astray!" But they have not been sent as keepers over them. But on this Day the righteous will laugh at the wicked. On throne of dignity they will command. Will not the wicked have been paid back for what they did?"

In a Dec. 18, 2006 letter to author Katherine Hughes, Dr. Rafil A. Dhafir wrote about his previous incarceration in CMU Terre Haute:

"No one seems to know about this top-secret operation until now. It is still not fully understood.The order came from the Attorney General himself. The staff here is struggling to make sense of the whole situation. There are 16 of us, all Muslims but two, with one non-Arab Muslim. We are housed in what we are told was the holding area for those on death row!!!!! We are told this is an experiment, so the whole concept is evolving on a daily basis."

My visit with Dr. Dhafir was brief, under one hour, but great. He looks waaaaay better than I imagined he would look after so much time. In fact he looks better than most of the other inmates half his age. Whatever his health problems are, he comes across as a strong person, and with sound and sharp mind.

I was not able to press for a lot of details and he seemed like he didn't want to be a complainer, so he only briefly explained that he had been sent to SHU for no reason, in the past, and that he had filed complaints. And now the prison is claiming that they have no paperwork or documents about his complaint that he submitted. He is determined to keep complaining. I am not clear on the details of who he is going to complain to about his original complaint being "lost." It sounded like he had legal representation handling that. I did not ask, and he did not offer any information as to whether he had fears for his physical safety or if his main fear was being sent again to SHU.

There was some general discussion of the thin line between killing people and medical neglect. He said the prison doctor was coming to work drunk and nobody was reporting him. The place is run by incompetents. There is one prisoner there who is 100 years old. People in wheelchairs. As a doctor he feels very frustrated about how much better this medical institution should be run and organized.

Dhafir last got a visit two weeks ago. He is allowed 8 visits per month. Visits are not timed. So whether you arrive in the morning and stay all day or you stay for one hour, it's counted as one visit. The visit took place in a noisy and crowded room full of other prisoners visiting their loved ones, and some snack machines.

He comes across as very sincere and polite as well as religiously observant. A mutual friend who spent time with him at CMU recommended to me to seek him out for spiritual knowledge. I will definitely keep that in mind for future conversation topics. I told him everyone who knows him is very fond of him.

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