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May 12, 2004

Another Fine Day at the DoJ

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Abad Elfgeeh said as he left a federal court in Brooklyn. “America is still good ...It’s still the best country in the world.”

Elfgeeh is an ine cream shop owner. Look up his name for greater context.

Th elong and the short of it is. the Department of Justice screwed up at a very basicl level.
A judge on Tuesday threw out the guilty plea of an ice cream shop owner in Brooklyn whom prosecutors linked to funneling tens of thousands of dollars to al-Qaida and other terrorist networks.

Judge Charles P. Sifton said the Yemeni proprietor, Abad Elfgeeh, had not understood the consequences of his guilty plea to illegally transferring money to bank accounts in Yemen, Switzerland, Thailand and China.

FBI agents arrested Elfgeeh last year after learning that $20 million had passed through the bank accounts of his Brooklyn-based business from 1997 and 2003. He pleaded guilty in October.

Elfgeeh, a naturalized U.S. citizen, remained under house arrest.

“Nobody, but most importantly not Mr. Elfgeeh, was clearly advised (about) ...his rights to a jury trial with the prospect of facing the sentences that he now faces,” Sifton said.

Court filings portray Elfgeeh, 49, as a vital link in a system that moved millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and Hamas. Prosecutors also believe Elfgeeh was an associate of Sheik Mohammed Hasa Al-Moayad, a prominent Yemeni cleric charged with funneling millions to al-Qaida before the Sept. 11 attacks.

A pre-sentencing report by the U.S. Probation Department plays down any link to terrorism, saying federal agents assigned to the case had said, “there appears to be little, if any, evidence to suggest that Elfgeeh had any role in financing terrorism or any knowledge that money he was transmitting was used to finance terrorism.”