California Woman Charged with Funding Attacks on U.S. Military
Posted: December 27, 2011
A California woman has been charged with providing financial support to terrorists in Pakistan and lying to federal investigators about the transactions.
Oytun Ayse Mihalik, a 39-year-old permanent U.S. resident, was arrested on August 27, 2011, at Los Angeles International Airport while attempting to return to her native Turkey. She was originally charged for lying to officials in the course of a terrorism investigation. New charges of providing material support were unsealed along with information about the original charges by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on December 21, 2011.
Mihalik, a pharmacist, allegedly sent $2,050 to Pakistan over a three week period in late 2010 and early 2011. Court documents allege that Mihalik knew that the money would be used to fund attacks against U.S. military personnel and others overseas.
She was initially questioned upon her return from a six-month stay in Turkey in early August 2011. Officials charge that she lied to investigators during this meeting by stating that she had never used an alias to wire money overseas and that she only transferred money once during the time period in question. Prosecutors say that evidence from Western Union receipts indicate that Mihalik engaged in three transfers and used the alias “Cindy Palmer” on two occasions.
After agreeing to meet with investigators in September, Mihalik purchased a one-way ticket to Turkey. When she questioned at the airport she said that she had no intention to return to the United States, and that she had called to tell her husband goodbye without telling him that she was returning to Turkey. Investigators also question the legitimacy of her marriage, on which her residency is based, in court documents.
Mihalik’s lawyer said that the money was destined for overseas charities and that his client is “not funding a terrorist organization.”
If convicted, Mihalik faces up to 53 years in prison.