Shakir Hamoodi completes one year in prison, family fights for release

Shakir Hamoodi in a family photo. Taken by Carole Patterson.

Shakir Hamoodi in a family photo. Taken by Carole Patterson.

Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi

The prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. that has imprisoned Shakir Hamoodi for a year.  Photo by Abdul Rahman Abdul-Kafi
The penitentiary in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. that has imprisoned Shakir Hamoodi for a year.
Photo by Abdul Rahman Abdul-Kafi

Around 300 years ago, millions of buffalo roamed the United States freely and without limitation. When the land they lived on was needed, they were killed by the hundreds of thousands with only a few to spare. The few discovered in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., now live inside a fenced area in front of the prison camp.

All the buffalos did was take up the land the European settlers wanted. Their predicament is eerily similar to my father’s – forced into imprisonment in Fort Leavenworth for a crime that should never have been labeled as one. Some would say there must be more to the story, but the blatant truth is: there isn’t more to the story. All my father did was send aid to his family during a time of starvation and need.
Typically, heroes are rewarded for their work. But my dad was instead punished for it. He is a hero, a hero who is now forced to live without his family in a 90-year-old building in the Fort Leavenworth penitentiary. He is forced to hand out paper towels during breakfast, lunch and dinner at a prison camp. He gets to live in a building that has no air conditioning and minimal insulation, making his summers sweltering and his winters frigid. The only thing that keeps my dad going are the trips my family and friends take to see him every weekend. He spends his time reading books and writing his own.
Five months after my dad entered into prison, his first grandchild was born. It isn’t fair, or in any way just, that a man misses the birth of his first grandson because he didn’t want his family in Iraq to die of starvation. No matter what anyone may say, it doesn’t make sense.
My family is like a shirt; if the shirt gets ripped, it is still a shirt, but it is missing an essential piece. My father is not only a big part of my family, but also a big part of the community in Columbia, Mo. He has given countless talks in various churches across Columbia on why the world would be a better place if we all learned to live together without war and violence.
In order to make this situation just again, we need one signature from President Obama, and with more than 7,000 signatures from people around the world in favor of commuting my father, it is possible. On Aug. 28, 2012, the same day Shakir Hamoodi entered prison, we sent a binder with more than 1,000 pages of evidence that shows that my father is the perfect person to commute.
This binder is filled with letters from people in the United States showing how humanitarian he is and letters from people in Iraq saying that they received the money and used it for food and in some situations for medical school.  My father sent money to 19 different people so they could buy food and shelter while going to medical school in Baghdad.
Aug. 28, 2013 marked the end of my dad’s first year in prison, with two years remaining. President Obama, my family has checked the mail for a happy letter from the White House every day. We are still waiting.
By Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi