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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-123

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

LOS ANGELES MAN ARRESTED ON CHARGES HE FAILED TO REGISTER AS AN AGENT FOR THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME


Los Angeles, CA - William Shaoul Benjamin, 64, of Los Angeles, was taken into custody last week on charges he worked for the former Iraqi regime which was controlled by Saddam Hussein, and failed to notify the United States government, announced J. Stephen Tidwell, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles; Debra Wong Yang, United States Attorney in Los Angeles; and Robert Schoch, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles.

According to the indictment, returned under seal by a grand jury in the Central District of California, and unsealed after his arrest last Thursday, Benjamin conspired with others to act as an agent of a foreign government --namely, the government of Iraq -- without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States, as required by law. Benjamin is also charged with making false statements under oath to United States immigration authorities.

According to the indictment, Benjamin communicated with co-conspirators who were intelligence officers of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and was given the "symbol" or codename "9211" by the IIS. Benjamin allegedly received direction from and acted under the control of his IIS coconspirators.

The indictment further alleges that Benjamin would infiltrate groups and organizations located in the United States that were considered by the IIS to be hostile to the Government of Iraq, which was controlled by Saddam Hussein. Benjamin would collect information regarding these groups and the individuals associated with them and provide it to IIS officers. Benjamin is alleged to have traveled to Iraq to train with the IIS and would be compensated by the IIS for his services. Benjamin, according to the indictment, conspired with others to misrepresent, conceal, and hide the purposes of acts done in furtherance of the conspiracy, to avoid detection and apprehension by U.S. law enforcement authorities.

The indictment alleges that on multiple occasions, beginning in 1993 and continuing until at least through 2001, Benjamin received money, gifts and other compensation from the IIS; met and communicated with members of the IIS; and traveled between Iraq and the United States, entering the United States using his alien registration identification.

In addition, the indictment charges Benjamin with making false statements under oath with regard to naturalization, citizenship, and registry of aliens. Specifically, Benjamin failed to state on his application for United States citizenship that he had been a paid source for the Iraqi Intelligence Service. He also falsely declared that he had renounced allegiance to Iraq.

The Government of Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussein and his regime from 1979 to 2003. The Iraqi Intelligence Service, known in Arabic as the Da’irat al-Mukhabbarat al-'Amma, or the Mukhabbarat, was the foreign intelligence arm of the Iraqi government. The missions of the Iraqi Intelligence Service included foreign intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and the collection of information regarding individuals and groups considered hostile to the Iraqi government.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty on Monday, September 18th. Trial is set for November 7, before United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow. Benjamin was released on Monday pretrial on $500,000 bond, fully secured by real property belonging to his relatives, home detention, active GPS electronic monitoring, and intensive pretrial supervision.

If convicted on all counts, Benjamin faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The statutory maximum penalty for the conspiracy count is five years; failing to register is 10 years; and making false statements is five years.

This case is a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Release No. 06-123

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