Updated: California Pharmacist, Gets Prison For Funding Terrorism
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California woman was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for wiring money to Pakistan to help fund terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel.
Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 40, of La Palma pleaded guilty in August to one count of providing material support to terrorists. She admitted to providing a total of $2,050 in three wire transfers to a person in Pakistan with the intention that the money would be used for attacks against U.S. military personnel and other people overseas, prosecutors said.
“While the sum of money involved in this case may not seem substantial, there’s no doubt the funds this defendant sent overseas would have covered the cost of an attack on U.S. soldiers,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s homeland security investigations in Los Angeles. “Money is the mother’s milk of terrorism and we will move aggressively against those who provide financial support to groups and individuals bent on harming the U.S. and its allies.”
Mihalik, who worked as a pharmacist, has been in federal custody since she was arrested in August, after she attempted to board a flight to her native Turkey. Court records show she had been cooperating with investigators.
Shortly after her arrest, Mihalik told the FBI that she believed the person in Pakistan was a member of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and he was using the money for mujahideen efforts against American military forces in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, authorities said.
via Doc al-Qaeda h/t Vlad Tepes
A Los Angeles CVS pharmacist who tried to aid al-Qaeda and Taliban mujahedeen operations against American soldiers in Afghanistan, only to be caught by the FBI because of sloppy secret-agent moves, has a message for U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker: “Please forgive me for my actions.”
Tucker is scheduled next week at the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse to punish Orange County resident Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 38, a Turkey native who used a fake, Americanized name, Cindy Palmer, in her efforts to supply more than $4,000 to Islamic terrorists in 2010 and 2011. The U.S. government is seeking a 12-year prison trip for Mihalik. She is hoping for a whopping 10-year reduction. If she wins her argument, she could be set free in about six months, as she has been in the custody of U.S. marshals for 18 months.
“Ms. Mihalik never attended any terrorist-training camp,” Van Nuys-based criminal defense lawyer Alan Eisner told the judge last year. “Ms. Mihalik was never privy to any specific terrorism plot. Ms. Mihalik never offered any plan or advice for any terrorist attack.”
FBI agents and federal prosecutors hold a more sinister view of the defendant, who has been residing legally in the U.S. because of a marriage to an American. After returning from a 2010 trip to Turkey, she voiced anti-American sentiments to her husband, who was so frightened he secretly contacted Homeland Security officials. He reported that she told him, “If I have to kill people for Allah, I will,” and that she called taking a citizenship oath to the U.S. “a blasphemy.”
Mihalik was unaware that on-the-ball U.S. agents had copied her laptop files when she’d landed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). They found that she had saved “The Al Qaeda Manual” as a “favorite” Internet Explorer tab and had viewed information pertaining to the book The Mind of the Terrorist. After activating the computer’s online “privacy” mode, she searched for “true jihad” and “Jihad in Afghanistan.” Agents also determined that she studied the pro-al-Qaeda manual repeatedly during her flight to LAX. Rather than reading terrorist manuals for training purposes, Mihalik claims she viewed the information only in an effort to understand her brother’s commitment to radical Islam.
But, according to a Feb. 8 brief filed by Assistant United States Attorney Judith A. Heinz, Mihalik—a Cypress resident who worked at a Norwalk CVS pharmacy for more than $59 per hour and got her education thanks to sponsorship from Walgreens—knowingly tried to avoid detection by using a fake name to make three separate payments to “Allah’s Soldiers” in Pakistan via Western Union at a Ralphs grocery store: $750 on Dec. 21, 2010; $600 on Dec. 29, 2010; and $700 on Jan. 11, 2011. Though the total amount of the wired funds doesn’t seem monumental, Heinz describes the $2,050 as enough to fund a single al-Qaeda operation against U.S. soldiers. The government has redacted huge portions of the files in the case by citing protection of national security methods, but it seems likely given the contents of captured emails—communications that cryptically mention a car and contain the words “infidels,” “jihad” and “mujadeen”—that the money may have been intended for a car bomb attack.
(An FBI report also claims that Mihalik, who obtained a master’s degree in pharmaceutical marketing and health-care administration from Long Island University in 2002, convinced her father in Turkey to make an April 2011 payment of $2,000 to al-Qaeda.)
In August 2011, Mihalik tried to leave the U.S. at LAX with a one-way ticket to Istanbul—the day after FBI agents questioned her about the transactions. Following her airport arrest, she confessed during an Irvine interrogation to harboring anti-American feelings. “She stated repeatedly and with great conviction that she sent the money to [al-Qaeda operative] Ebu Yasir, knowing that he intended to use it for mujahedin operations against United States military forces in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region,” wrote Heinz. “[She believed that] sending money to [the terrorist] was right because it would keep her in Allah’s good graces.”
Read it all via OC Weekly.
More from our 2011 post, Cali: Muslim Pharmacist Charged With Sending Money to Fund Terrorist Attacks on US Military.
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