Iraqi spies in the US (continued)

Tuesday, two more men, this time in Detroit, were charged with spying for Saddam's Iraqi intelligence services:

Two Detroit-area men have been charged with spying for Saddam Hussein's intelligence service, supplying the executed dictator's regime with information about its enemies in the United States, according to federal court documents unsealed today.

Ghazi Al-Awadi, 78, of Dearborn, allegedly told the Iraqi Intelligence Service in 1997 that he killed his son-in-law because the man belonged to an anti-Hussein political party, court documents said.

Najib Shemami, 59, of Sterling Heights, allegedly provided Iraqi intelligence with information about Iraqi expatriates who might be called upon to guide U.S. troops during the invasion of Iraq and potential political candidates for the new government.

The charges were based on Iraqi intelligence documents captured by U.S. forces in Iraq.

The men are believed to be the first Detroit-area residents to be charged on the basis of such documents, which were authenticated by former members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.
At the same time one man, a former gate agent at O'Hare airport, was convicted of working with Hussein's intelligence agencies.

The defendant, Sami Khoshaba Latchin, 59, of 9399 Bay Colony Dr., Des Plaines, Ill., was found guilty this morning by a federal jury on all counts of a five-count superseding indictment returned in July 2006. The indictment accuses Latchin of acting as an unregistered foreign agent in the U.S., conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent in the U.S., violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, lying to the FBI in an interview, and obtaining U.S. citizenship under false pretenses.

Latchin faces a maximum of 42 years imprisonment. Sentencing has been set for July 9, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. Latchin is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Dohuk, Iraq, and has lived in the United States since 1993. He has been taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Among other things, the jury found that in the early 1990s, a committee of senior officers and directors from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS), also known as the Mukhabbarat, created a program to "plant" IIS agents overseas to support the strategic interests of the IIS and Government of Iraq. The IIS Committee selected Latchin, an IIS agent, for placement in the United States as a "sleeper" agent. Latchin was tasked to immigrate to the United States, find employment, gain U.S. citizenship, and eventually provide intelligence information to the Iraqi government.

Latchin immigrated to the United States in 1993 and, from that date and continuing through at least July 2002, he acted as an illegal agent of the Iraqi government in the United States. He communicated with intelligence officers of the IIS; traveled to Europe, Iraq, Jordan and other locations to meet with intelligence officers of the IIS and received payments from the Iraqi government, including a $24,000 payment from two IIS intelligence officers he met in Jordan.

In 1999, Latchin made materially false statements on his application for U.S. citizenship by concealing his affiliation with the IIS and Iraq's Baath Party and by lying about his employer as well as some of his overseas travels in the 1990s.