Should Dr. Shakir Hamoodi be in prison?

Some info here. (It’s a pro-Hamoodi petition website.)

The basic points from the site:

Hamoodi was sending about $20 a month to his family in Iraq while there were economic sanctions against Iraq.

Friends started asking him to send money for them as well, which he did.

A few years after the war, Hamoodi is arrested for violating the sanctions.

It is (apparently) verified that all the money went to individuals for humanitarian support, none to organizations.

Hamoodi pleads guilty

Hamoodi is sentenced to three years in prison.

So–is the sentence just?

Actually, we don’t have any idea where the money went. But, yes, I think the sentence was just. The law forbade sending money to Iraq. He did so, repeatedly, in violation of the law, and pled guilty to that. So the fact that he broke the law doesn’t seem to be disputed. So if he deliberately violated a law that was set up to prevent exactly the type of thing he did, how is it unjust he’s being punished for it?

Are you saying the concepts of “just” and “broke the law” are coextensive? That’s kind of a loaded rhetorical question. The cheap/easy example would be putting someone in jail for knowingly violating a sodomy law–would you still ask how it’s unjust that they were being punished for it?

He pled guilty and didn’t appeal his sentence. shrug

I might be willing to accept the idea of him sending money to his own family. I can see personal loyalty to your family coming ahead of loyalty to your country or to the law.

But once he started sending money for other people, he lost me. That makes it appear he was just choosing to ignore a law he didn’t agree with.

A 3 year sentence sounds harsh to me assuming the amount of money was small and being used for ‘humanitarian’ purposes. But lacking more facts it’s difficult to come to a conclusion.

No. The law he violated killed somewhere in the region of half a million innocent children. It was not a law that should be enforced purely for its own sake. If it has been verified that the money went solely to humanitarian support, it is completely unethical to punish him for this.

Goes back to the legal vs. moral question. Not all legal things are moral, and not all moral things are legal.

I also found this article. It says that he sent $271,000 to Iraq over nine years. That strikes me as being more money than what the website in the OP implies. It also seems that the charity that he began donating money to has a pretty sketchy history: link. The charity was suspected of sending funds to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and several other people (including a former congressman) were convicted for actions relating to that charity.

So, it seems the case is indeed more complex than it first appears. I have quite a bit of sympathy for those with family members suffering under sanctions, but it starts to appear to me that Dr. Hamoodi wasn’t making an innocent mistake in sending funds to Iraq; he was making quite a serious mistake.

How was it verified that all the money went for charitable purposes?

And I can see sending money to your family, even if it is illegal, but this guy seems to have set up a business getting around the sanctions (cite).


You’re not doing your position any favors by repeating a nonsense hyperinflated figure that’s been disavowed by the very authors of the study that produced the figure.

Ravenman, thanks for that link.

Sadly, Dr. Hamoodi is a friend of a friend of a friend, and I heard about what’s going on through a Facebook post. I read the site linked in the OP and had sympathetic feelings–but suspicions as to whether I was hearing the whole story, and uncertainty as to whether my “sympathetic feelings,” even if it were the whole story, could stand in place of moral or legal judgment.