Monday, December 29, 2008

Iraqi-Born Canadian Charged With Spying

I'm sure he was just trying to slip into Buffalo last week to enjoy the Christmas festivities.
An Iraq-born Canadian citizen who was detained at the U.S. border is accused of conspiring to spy for Iraq.

U.S. Justice Department officials say 47-year-old Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish will appear in federal court in Buffalo for a detention hearing Tuesday. He was detained while entering the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo Dec. 24.

A criminal complaint filed in Maryland Monday alleges Darwish, while working at a Maryland restaurant, was paid to provide information to Iraqi government officials and intelligence officers, including that Iraqi volunteers were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia.

An alleged co-conspirator pleaded guilty in Maryland last week.
Much more here from the Department of Justice release.
Darwish is a Canadian citizen born in Iraq. During part of the alleged conspiracy, he resided in Maryland. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) routinely recruited individuals, either currently in the United States or to be placed into the United States, to support the IIS and the Government of Iraq. Following the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces in March 2003, the United States military obtained confidential IIS documents establishing that Darwish provided information to officials of the Government of Iraq and intelligence officers with the IIS.

The seized documents also established that Darwish received payments from the IIS and the Iraqi government as compensation for his assistance and information. For example, an IIS document indicated that Darwish had provided information he received from a source of Iraqi descent that Iraqi volunteers, including the source, were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia. Another document identifies Darwish as an employee of the Iraqi Interests Section (ISEC), formed in 1991 within the Algerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., after the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with Iraq for invading Kuwait.

Specifically, according to the affidavit, throughout the conspiracy Darwish performed tasks at the Iraqi Embassy and at the ISEC. For example, the affidavit alleges that from 2000 through March or April of 2004, Darwish was working full-time at the ISEC as an assistant to the accountant and as a driver, for which he was paid $1,500 per month. Darwish also had obtained a work visa for a position as a cook at a restaurant in Maryland during that time frame, in an effort to legally remain in the United States.

According to the affidavit, in January 2004, a co-conspirator asked that Darwish locate and destroy any ISEC files associated with the conspirator, in an effort to conceal that person’s ISEC activities and Ba’ath Party membership. While attempting to locate the files, Darwish learned that the files had already been destroyed and shared this information with his co-conspirators. Darwish also is alleged to have told his conspirators about his employment activities at the Iraqi Embassy and the ongoing activities in the United States of the Iraqi ambassador and other Iraqi government officials who were associated with the interim government following the downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Darwish also is alleged to have attended social gatherings at the Iraqi Embassy and the ISEC, which were used to recruit individuals to work for the IIS; to interact with individuals who were already working with the IIS and Saddam Hussein’s regime; and to maintain the loyalties of the participants to the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein’s regime.

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