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Two Iraqis charged in Zarqawi cash aid
Updated: 2005-04-05 13:47

Two Iraqis detained in Sweden for almost a year were charged Monday with collecting and transferring money to terrorists, including Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq.

Stockholm prosecutors said Ali Berzengi, 29, and Ferman Abdulla, 25, collected more than $148,000 and transferred it to Iraq.

The recipients included Ansar al-Islam, a group believed to have links with al-Qaida, prosecutors said.

The suspects also transferred money to Zarqawi, whose al-Qaida in Iraq group is believed to be behind numerous deadly attacks on American troops and U.S.-trained Iraqi forces, prosecutors said. There is a $25 million bounty for Zarqawi.

The men also sent funds "to persons in Iran for forwarding to Iraq," prosecutors said.

They said some of the money — at least $70,000 — was linked to Feb. 1, 2004, suicide bombings in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil that killed 109 people.

Berzengi denies all the allegations, his defense lawyer, Peter Mutvei said.

Abdulla's lawyer, Ola Salomonsson, said his client admits to sending money to Ansar al-Islam but thought it would go toward humanitarian aid operations.

They were arrested on April 19, 2004, along with another Iraqi, Shaho Shahab, and Lebanese-born Bilal Ramadan, in separate police raids in Stockholm and Malmoe, 375 miles southwest of the capital.

Ramadan was released in September after a court found that there wasn't enough evidence to keep him in custody. Shahab was released in December after the government decided to deport him to Iraq. However, since Shahab risks receiving the death penalty in his home country, the deportation has not been carried out.

Prosecutors said Berzengi and Abdulla provided funds to terrorists through an informal money transfer system known as hawala. Berzengi also traveled to Iraq where he delivered some of the money personally, they said.

The trial is set to begin on Thursday at Stockholm's district court.

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