MU employs professor with felony conviction for sending $270,000 to Iraq during war

Updated at 10:10 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2022: Shakir Hamoodi is no longer an employee at the University of Missouri, according to Director of Media Relations for UM System Christian Basi. 

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Convicted felon and University of Missouri adjunct professor Shakir Hamoodi is now facing calls for resignation as critics question whether a state-sponsored university should allow a felon to teach students. 

Hamoodi pleaded guilty in 2012 to illegally sending roughly $270,000 to 15 different families in Iraq from 1994 to 2003, violating a 1990 executive order by President George H.W. Bush that prohibited U.S. citizens from sending funds to the country. Hamoodi was reportedly making roughly $35,000 a year at the time in a position at the University of Missouri. 

Defense attorneys argued there was no evidence to support the claim that the money Hamoodi sent to Iraq went anywhere other than to the intended families. However, where the money specifically went didn’t necessarily matter in this case, as the conviction was based on the indisputable evidence showing Hamoodi sent money to Iraq, violating the executive order regardless of where the money was sent. 

Acknowledging many individuals may have had logical reasons for sending money to family members in Iraq, the federal government allowed U.S. citizens to apply for a license to send humanitarian aid to the country legally. But Hammodi never applied for such a license, raising questions about his donations’ legitimacy. 

Doubt over the propriety of Hamoodi’s donations escalated when it was discovered he planned several ways to “circumvent” the prohibition, including funneling donations through a Michigan-based charity and wiring money to a cousin’s bank account in Jordan.

“Mr. Hamoodi conspired with others to get cash into Iraq,” Garrett Heenan, an attorney in the federal Justice Department, said at Hamoodi’s sentencing. 

Involved in Hamoodi’s prosecution were attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism unit. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison on May 16, 2012. After serving 28 months in the Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary, he was released to a Columbia halfway house in December of 2014.

While Hamoodi was in prison, he and his supporters attempted to convince then-President Barack Obama to commute his sentence. But notably, the progressive Obama denied the commutation request on Dec. 17, 2014. 

Many believe this brings up a fundamental question the University of Missouri needs to address: If President Obama, of all people, refused to commute his sentence, why would the university allow him to teach students?

Christian Basi, director of media relations for the University of Missouri System, told Heartlander News that when a background check on an applicant comes back with convictions, both the individual doing the hiring and the HR office review the following information before making a decision:

  • The nature of the position the applicant is seeking.
  • The age of the conviction.
  • The seriousness of the conviction.
  • The number or history of convictions.
  • The location of the workplace.
  • The applicant’s employment history.

Hamoodi currently teaches three Arabic language classes at Mizzou’s Columbia campus, earning $9,000 a semester. It is unclear whether any other felons teach classes at the university.

“The University of Missouri’s employing Shakir Hamoodi despite his active efforts to circumvent restrictions on sending money to Iraq is just the latest example of the deep corruption in our academic system,” says Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. “It’s unethical to be paying a felon with tax dollars to teach students, and it’s certain that if Hamoodi were virtually any other kind of felon, he would never have been hired or retained.

“What’s more, if his illegal actions had been in the service of ‘right-wing’ causes rather than involving sending money to a state that was as hostile to the United States as America’s colleges and universities are, he would not be at Mizzou today.”

As critics grow concerned about paying a felon to teach impressionable college students with state tax funds, the University of Missouri System can expect more demands for answers. 

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