View Full Version : Former US Congressman Indicted in Terror Funding Case

01-16-2008, 07:27 PM
US ex-congressman indicted in terror funding case

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080116/wl_sthasia_afp/usattacksprosecuteafghanistanpakistan_080116224056 (http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080116/wl_sthasia_afp/usattacksprosecuteafghanistanpakistan_080116224056 )

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former US lawmaker for his links to a charity that sent funds to an Afghanistan-based supporter of Al-Qaeda through banks in Pakistan.

Former Republican representative Mark Deli Siljander was named in a 42-count indictment against the Missouri-based Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA), charged with "engaging in prohibited financial transactions for the benefit of US-designated terrorist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar," the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

Siljander, 57, faces money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in the case.

Hekmatyar is an Islamist rebel leader who received US aid in the 1980s to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He briefly served as Afghan prime minister in the 1990s and initially opposed the Taliban regime, but then switched sides after the October 2001 US-led invasion.

According to the indictment, in 2003 and 2004 IARA sent some 130,000 dollars to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan "purportedly for an orphanage housed in buildings owned and controlled by Hekmatyar" -- who is believed to be hiding in eastern Afghanistan or Pakistan while leading his Hizb-i-Islami (Islamic Party) faction.

Siljander, who represented a congressional district in the midwestern state of Michigan from 1981 to 1987, owns and heads a public relations company.

The indictment says IARA hired Siljander in March 2004 to lobby Congress to remove the group from a US Senate Finance Committee list of non-profit organizations suspected of supporting international terrorism.

It alleges that Siljander "engaged in money laundering and obstruction of a federal investigation in an effort to disguise IARA's misuse of taxpayer money that the government had provided for humanitarian purposes."

The Wednesday indictment supersedes a 33-count indictment from March 2007. It does not charge the defendants with material support of terrorism, "nor does it allege that they knowingly financed acts of terror," the statement read.

Rather, it alleges that some of the defendants "engaged in financial transactions that benefited property controlled by a designated terrorist," in violation of US laws.

The indictment "paints a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein.

IARA, which had earlier been an US Agency for International Development contractor hired to work on relief projects in Mali, Africa, was closed in October 2004 when the Treasury Department named it "a specially designated global terrorist organization."

Other defendants include Mubarak Hamed, 51, a naturalized US citizen from Sudan; Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 53, a naturalized US citizen born in Libya; and Ahmad Mustafa, 55, a US resident and citizen of Iraq.

01-16-2008, 07:51 PM
Good find.

01-16-2008, 09:53 PM
New indictments issued against Islamic charity


January 16, 2008 | 6:47 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A federal indictment accuses members of the Islamic American Relief Agency of funneling $130,000 to bank accounts in Pakistan, knowing the money would ultimately benefit property owned by an Afghan man who has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. government.

The indictment, released Wednesday, clarifies previous charges brought against the agency, a charitable organization formerly based in Columbia. The new charges allege that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is the leader and founder of an Hezb-e-Islami-Gulbuddin, an organization that has participated in and supported terrorist acts. He also owns the building holding the orphanage for which the agency’s money was allegedly intended. A statement from the Justice Department says the indictment does not charge any of the defendants with “material support of terrorism” or of knowingly supporting terrorist acts.

Three defendants named in the indictment have lived in Columbia, including Mubarek Hamed, 51, the organization’s former executive director, and Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 52, a former member of the agency’s board of directors. Also indicted was Ahmad Mustafa, 55, an Iraqi citizen and former agency fundraiser. The three men were originally indicted in March 2007, along with other employees and associates of the organization, for money laundering and violating federal sanctions by transferring funds to Iraq.

The agency’s attorney, Shereef Akeel, said that neither he nor his clients have seen any of the U.S. Government’s evidence against the agency. “In those four years, I haven’t seen a shred of evidence to suggest that IARA did anything wrong,” Akeel said.

The newest indictment also names Mark Deli Siljander, a former congressman from Michigan who is charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The agency hired Siljander as a lobbyist in March 2004, shortly after the organization was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a suspected fundraiser for terrorists. The indictment alleges that the $50,000 the agency paid Siljander was stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development by IARA, Hamed and Bagegni.

Siljander, who served in the House from 1981-1987, was appointed by President Reagan to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year in 1987.

He could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. His attorney in Kansas City, J.R. Hobbs, had no immediate comment.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar “has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan.”

The charges paint “a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with a former United States congressman to convert stolen federal funds into payments for his advocacy,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said.

Siljander founded the Washington-area consulting group Global Strategies Inc. after leaving the government.

The indictment alleges that the Islamic American Relief Agency paid Siljander with money that was part of U.S. government funding awarded to the charity years earlier for relief work it promised to perform in Africa, the indictment says. Under the grant agreement, the agency was supposed to return any unused funds after the relief project was wrapped up in 1999.

Instead, Siljander and three agency officers agreed to cover up the money’s origins and use it on the lobbying effort, the indictment charges.

In interviews with the FBI in December 2005 and April 2007, Siljander denied doing any lobbying work for the agency. The money, he told investigators, was merely a donation to help him write a book about Islam and Christianity, the indictment says.

In 2004, the FBI raided the Islamic American Relief Agency-USA group’s headquarters and the homes of people affiliated with the group nationwide. Since then, the 20-year-old charity has been unable to raise money and its assets have been frozen.

The charity has denied the allegations that it has financed terrorism. The agency in Columbia has argued that it is a separate organization from the Islamic African Relief Agency, a Sudanese group suspected of financing al-Qaida. A federal appeals court in Washington ruled in February that there was a link between the two groups.

In an indictment handed down in March, the charity and four of its officers were charged with illegally transferring $1.4 million to Iraq from March 1991 to May 2003 — when Iraq was under various U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

The indictment also alleges that on 11 separate occasions the defendants transferred funds from the United States to Iraq through Amman, Jordan, in order to promote unlawful activity that violated Iraq sanctions.

In all, Siljander, IARA and five of its officers were charged with various counts of theft, money laundering, aiding terrorists and conspiracy.

Akeel, a civil rights attorney, said he believes that by pursuing cases like this one, the U.S. government is creating an environment in which public officials are wary of interactions with all Muslims.

“I hope they’re not using one person to send a message to other congressmen to stay away from other Muslim organizations and other Muslim charities,” he said.

01-17-2008, 07:23 PM
Indicted GOP lawmaker wanted to be 'ambassador to Islam'


David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday January 17, 2008

Fox News is doing its best to arouse sympathy for a former Republican Congressman who has been charged in connection with his lobbying work for an Islamic charity accused of funding an Afghan terrorist leader.

The coverage of Rep. Mark Siljander's indictment on Fox & Friends never mentioned his party affiliation, but featured his former aide, a conservative commentator who regularly appears on Fox, expressing her shock and disbelief and suggesting explanations for his actions.

Debbie Schlussel is now best known for her attacks on Islam and Islamic culture, but twenty years ago, when she was an "Outstanding Teen Age Republican," she served as an aide to Siljander.

"It's heartbreaking," Schlussel stated, "because when I worked for Mark Siljander, he was probably the most anti-Islamist Congressman on the Hill. He was the one who most understood the jihadist threat, decades before 9/11. ... His chief of staff had served in the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces. ... I am shocked beyond belief."

When asked about Siljander's possible motivations, Schlussel replied, "He was an evangelical born-again Christian, and I think he saw himself as an ambassador of Christianity to other religions and to the Middle East. ... I think that maybe he had bigger ideas, that he could be this ambassador to Islam. But I think he kind of let himself go off the deep end by working for this charity. ... I think he must have needed the money."

What makes Schlussel's situation particularly ironic is her own background of acute controversy. She has been accused of "racist hate speech" by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and often claims to have received death threats for her views. A year ago, Schlussel provoked a storm of outrage with a column titled "Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always A Muslim," which exaggerated the Muslim elements in Obama's family background and called his loyalties to the United States into question.

This video is from Fox's Fox & Friend's, broadcast January 17, 2008.

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