BUFFALO, N.Y. – An Iraq-born Canadian citizen who was picked up at the U.S. border last week was charged Monday with conspiring to spy for Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
A criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department alleges that Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish, 47, was paid to provide information to Iraqi government officials and intelligence officers in 2000 and later, including that Iraqi volunteers were being trained by the U.S. military in Virginia.
The complaint was filed in Maryland, where Darwish worked as a restaurant cook before moving back to Canada. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the charge of conspiracy to act as an agent for a foreign government.
An alleged co-conspirator, Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy, 67, pleaded guilty to the same charge in Maryland last week. The two are among at least a dozen people charged by the Justice Department since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq with acting as illegal agents for Saddam's government or his intelligence service, federal authorities said.
According to an affidavit, Darwish was employed in a Laurel, Md., restaurant and also worked as a driver and performed other tasks at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington during the alleged conpsiracy.
His 2001 application for permanent U.S. residence was denied in 2006 after he allegedly provided conflicting information. Court documents indicate he never revealed his affiliation with Saddam's Ba'ath Party or the government of Iraq, nor his employment at the embassy.
U.S. authorities learned of his alleged activities through Iraqi Intelligence Service documents seized by U.S. troops following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.
Darwish was scheduled to appear for a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Tuesday. A Justice Department spokesman did not know Monday whether Darwish has a lawyer.
Prosecutors say the seized documents establish that Darwish received money and provided information to the Iraqi Intelligence Service and the Iraqi government.
In conversations recorded by the FBI in 2003 and 2004, Darwish is heard telling coconspirators about activities by the Iraqi ambassador and other Iraqi government officials associated with the interim government following the fall of Saddam's regime, according to court papers.
Darwish was arrested Dec. 24 at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo after border agents conducting a secondary inspection discovered he was the subject of an active FBI warrant, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Kevin Corsaro said.