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THE WORLD

Prominent U.S. Muslim Indicted

Activist is accused of engaging in illegal transactions with Libya and money laundering.

October 24, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A prominent U.S. Muslim activist was charged Thursday with devising an illegal scheme to obtain money from Libya and attempting to conceal his financial dealings from the government.

The 18-count indictment, handed up by a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., could carry a maximum sentence of 105 years in prison for Abdurahman M. Alamoudi, 51, a founder of the American Muslim Council and related American Muslim Foundation.

A federal affidavit contends that Alamoudi also was involved in numerous groups with financial links to Hamas and Al Qaeda -- including one group founded by a relative of Osama bin Laden.

The indictment accuses Alamoudi of engaging in illegal financial transactions with Libya, most notably in August when he received a briefcase containing $340,000 from the Libyan-controlled Islamic Call Society. The indictment says Alamoudi hoped to funnel the money through Saudi Arabia to the United States and evade currency-reporting requirements.

"Those who cozy up with state sponsors of terrorism will not be tolerated," said U.S. Atty. Paul McNulty of Virginia's eastern district.

Alamoudi, who remains jailed without bond, also is charged with money laundering, misuse of a passport, failure to report foreign bank accounts and making false statements in his application to become a U.S. citizen.

The affidavit, filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Brett Gentrup, suggested that Alamoudi was a key player in a web of organizations that appeared to be raising money for Muslim charities but actually funded terrorist groups.

"These layered transactions were designed to both disguise the true origin and end destination of the funds and render it exceedingly difficult and confusing for any prospective investigation by law enforcement authorities," Gentrup wrote.

One organization, the Happy Hearts Trust, allegedly transferred tens of thousands of dollars to two organizations long suspected of helping fund Hamas attacks against Israel. One of these, the West Bank-based Humanitarian Relief Organization, has been closed in the past by Israel on suspicion of its providing money to militants.

The other, Jordan-based Humanitarian Appeal International, has been linked by the FBI to both Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States.

In addition, Alamoudi is listed as vice president of an organization in Falls Church, Va., called the Taibah International Aid Assn.

A director of that organization is Abdullah A. bin Laden, nephew of the Al Qaeda leader, according to the affidavit.

Officials allegedly found seven U.S.-designated terrorist groups among the names and numbers in Alamoudi's confiscated hand-held computer.

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