In a recent development, Muzzamil Zaidi and Asim Mujtaba Naqvi, both residents of Houston, Texas, have pleaded guilty to charges related to an illegal scheme to transfer funds from the United States to Iran. The case sheds light on the consequences of attempting to circumvent U.S. sanctions and highlights the ongoing efforts to combat illicit financial activities.

Details of the Scheme:

Court documents reveal that the scheme began in December 2018 when Zaidi obtained permission to collect khums, a religious tax on wealth, on behalf of several Imams. Over the following year, Zaidi and Naqvi collected payments of this tax, as well as donations purportedly intended to aid victims of the civil war in Yemen, from individuals across the United States.

Rather than using these funds for their stated purposes, Zaidi and Naqvi arranged for their transfer to the Iranian regime, where they were intended for the Office of the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. To evade law enforcement scrutiny, the duo enlisted the help of friends, family members, and associates to carry the cash out of the United States in amounts less than $10,000.

One such transfer involved 25 travelers going on a religious pilgrimage in Iraq, who then hand-carried the U.S. dollars to Iran. However, their actions were in direct violation of U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Iran since 1995, which were further intensified with sanctions targeting the Supreme Leader in June 2019.

Legal Consequences:

Both Zaidi and Naqvi were arrested in Houston on August 18, 2020, as authorities uncovered their illegal activities. They have since pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan. Zaidi’s sentencing is scheduled for August 13, while Naqvi’s is set for October 1.

Investigation and Prosecution:

The investigation into this case was led by the FBI Washington Field Office and the FBI Houston Counterterrorism team, with valuable assistance from FBI Field Offices in Dallas, Chicago, and Detroit. Prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jolie Zimmerman, Erik Kenerson, and Maeghan Mikorski for the District of Columbia, along with Trial Attorneys Adam Small and Derek Shugert of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section.


The guilty pleas of Zaidi and Naqvi underscore the seriousness of violating U.S. sanctions and attempting to funnel funds to sanctioned entities. This case serves as a reminder of the Department of Justice’s commitment to enforcing sanctions and protecting national security interests. Such actions not only undermine the integrity of the financial system but also pose a threat to global efforts to combat terrorism.

Source » irannewsupdate