I posted the entire story as I know some cannot access the site without registering. Bush Team Launches New 'Hawala' Crackdown (Copyright (c) 2005, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) By Walid Al-Saqaf 05-24-2005 22:01 EST WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has launched a new crackdown on "hawala," or informal money-transfer businesses popular in the Arab world, announcing yesterday a series of new arrests and guilty pleas from U.S. residents suspected of funding terrorists. During the past two weeks, officials have "shut down a number of unlicensed money transmittal businesses that were responsible for the transfer of millions of dollars to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran," Michael J. Garcia, assistant secretary of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. The arrests were conducted under the authority of the USA Patriot Act, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and designed to give the federal government greater power on multiple fronts to undermine terrorists. Congress is currently debating renewing the act, and some legislators advocate tougher provisions cracking down on hawala. As part of yesterday's announcement, the ICE also released a broader look at the scale of the antihawala campaign of the past three and a half years. Since the Patriot Act's enactment, a total of 140 individuals have been arrested as part of the agency's attempt to track down and curb unlicensed informal money-transfer businesses and $25.5 million has been seized, according to ICE. Many Arab-Americans have complained about the antihawala effort, saying it is misguided and hurts their community. The use of hawalas for terrorist or illegal activity is rare, said Munir Mawari, an Arab-American writer working for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Daily's Washington, D.C., bureau in an interview. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat is a pan-Arab Daily newspaper based in London. "Thousands of Muslims in the U.S. have been using hawalas innocently to send their families small amounts of money for tens of years," Mr. Mawari said. "It is unjust to deprive them from using hawalas so abruptly. Instead, reasonable alternatives should have been proposed and introduced to those expatriates whose families see hawalas as vital for their livelihood," he added. Among those recently arrested and charged for operating a hawala business was Rahim Bariek, 46 years old, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan and resident of Herndon, Va. Mr. Bariek pleaded guilty last Friday to charges of operating an unlicensed money-transmittal business that wired millions of dollars to Iran, Pakistan and areas in Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban from 2001 to 2003. ICE said Mr. Bariek is scheduled to be sentenced July 29 and faces a maximum five-year imprisonment. Telephone calls to Mr Bariek's home weren't returned. His lawyer declined to comment. Noor Alocozy, 41, a native of Afghanistan who is living in San Francisco, also pleaded guilty Friday to charges of operating an unlicensed money-transmittal business that funneled nearly $1 million to Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. Mr. Alocozy, who is expected to be sentenced Aug. 26, claimed he was sending the money to assist in the capturing of Osama bin Laden, and hence collect the $50 million reward announced by the U.S. government. Mr. Alocozy's lawyer, Steven Shaiken of San Francisco, said his client pleaded guilty based only on the fact that he was operating a money-transfer business that was unlicensed and didn't realize that he needed a license. Mr. Shaiken said the money was transmitted over "several years," and added that his client wasn't interested in receiving the reward money himself from an arrest of Mr. bin Laden, but that maybe some of his clients were. On May 13, 2005, Eltaib Yousif, 41, a resident of Castro Valley, Calif., whose original country wasn't revealed, made his initial court appearance in federal court in San Francisco after being indicted on charges of illegally moving more than $1.5 million outside the U.S. from September 2001 through November 2003. Mr. Yousif isn't listed in telephone directories, and the name of a lawyer representing him couldn't be found. While the article hints that most Muslims are sending money home to help support less fortunate family members, it goes on to cite two examples where the persons involved sent MILLIONS in a very short period of time.