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California woman indicted on terrorism-support charges

By Brett Wolf

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted a Turkish national on terrorism-support charges for allegedly wiring money to Pakistan to help fund attacks against American military personnel.

Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma, California, a permanent resident of the United States, used Western Union to wire more than $2,000 from a grocery store in Buena Park to a person in Pakistan, prosecutors said late Wednesday. They also say she knew the money would be used for attacks on U.S. military personnel and other people overseas.

Court documents state that Mihalik, a pharmacist who worked at CVS, made three wire transfers - $750, $600, and $700 - to Pakistan in December 2010 and January 2011. They said the first wire was made in her name, but the latter two were made using the alias "Cindy Palmer."

While Mihalik printed the name "Cindy Palmer" as the sender of the final two wires, Western Union receipts reveal she always signed her real name, according to an affidavit filed by investigators.

The affidavit said that when sending the first transfer, Mihalik gave the Western Union agent a New York telephone number as her contact number. That number was linked to her husband's cellular phone.

It adds that investigators believe Mihalik's marriage, which led to her status as a permanent resident, was a sham.

Court documents do not identify the recipient of the alleged wire transfers, nor do they name any suspected terrorist organizations.

Mihalik has been in federal custody since she was arrested on a false statements charge on August 27 while preparing to board a flight to Turkey and with a one-way ticket, court documents state.

They said Mihalik told federal agents she did not intend to return to the United States and that she had called to say goodbye to her husband.

Mihalik's lawyer has denied the charges against her.

If convicted, she could face decades in prison.

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