Man who spied for Iraq gets 46 months

Associated Press / June 10, 2009
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DETROIT - A man described by the Saddam Hussein regime as "our good cooperating source" was sentenced yesterday to nearly four years in prison for supplying information to Iraq before the US-led invasion in 2003.

US District Judge Nancy Edmunds rejected Najib Shemami's claim that he acted under duress from the Iraqi government.

There is no dispute that he told Iraqi authorities about the activities of expatriates in the United States. He also reported on US military movements in Turkey before the invasion, describing the location of 200 tanks as well as tents for refugees.

Shemami, 62, of Sterling Heights, was a frequent traveler from 1996 through 2002, smuggling money, medicine, and clothing into Iraq. The judge agreed with prosecutors who said being an informant was his "cost of doing business."

"I apologize to the court," said Shemami, a native of Iraq who moved to the United States in 1970 and owned a liquor store. "I swear to God I didn't mean no harm. I was scared. . . . I was so scared."

But that didn't make sense to Edmunds, who ordered a 46-month prison sentence.

Shemami continued to meet with the Iraqi Intelligence Service in 2002 even after being interviewed by the FBI.

The case against him was developed with documents seized after the fall of Hussein. The records described Shemami as "our good cooperating source."

He pleaded guilty in January to aiding Iraq without approval from the US government.

Edmunds said his activities had the "terrible potential" to undermine US security and threaten the lives of Iraqi natives who left that country.