Orange County Woman Sentenced To Five Years In Federal Prison For Providing Material Support To Terrorists By Sending Money To Pakistan To Be Used In Attacks Against U.S. Forces Overseas
SANTA ANA, California – A Turkish citizen who resides in Orange County was sentenced this morning to five years in federal prison after admitting she provided material support to terrorists by wiring money to Pakistan to help fund attacks against American military personnel.
Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 40, of La Palma, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, was sentenced by United States District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker. Mihalik pleaded guilty on August 10, 2012, to one count of providing material support to terrorists. When she pleaded guilty, she specifically admitted that she provided money to an individual in Pakistan with the intention that the money would be used to prepare for and carry out attacks against United States military personnel and other persons overseas. Using the alias “Cindy Palmer,” Mihalik sent a total of $2,050 in three wire transfers to the person in Pakistan over the course of three weeks at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.
“International terrorists require a steady pipeline of money to maintain and support their operations,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The defendant in this case knowingly and deliberately made wire transfers to fund terrorist operations overseas, where contributions like these could have a significant and devastating impact on American interests.”
Mihalik’s “support for terrorism was knowing and intentional – not the product of undue influence or misguided good intentions and not aberrant conduct,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. “In fact, as [Mihalik] herself told the FBI shortly after her arrest, she believed [the person in Pakistan] was a member of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and she knew he was using the money for mujahadin operations against American military forces in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region,..."
“The FBI is committed to the prevention of terrorist attacks targeting the United States,” said Bill Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Through the partnerships of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, we will continue to hold accountable those who support terrorist causes by financing operations that target Americans and her interests.”
Mihalik has been in federal custody since she was arrested on August 27, 2011, as she was preparing to board a flight to her native Turkey with a one-way ticket. As part of this case, Mihalik agreed that the United States can take away her immigration status and that she will be removed from the United States to Turkey after serving her prison sentence.
“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 for HSI 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.”
The case against Mihalik was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The JTTF includes special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, as well as investigators with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
Release No. 13-046