New Yorker Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Financing
Update: Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari was sentenced to 10 years in prison on April 19, 2010.
Posted: October 16, 2009
A New York man who attempted to funnel thousands of dollars to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan has pleaded guilty to terrorism financing.
Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, 56, pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal court on September 29, 2009, to terrorism financing and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Alishtari admitted that he "stole millions from investors and knowingly financed what he believed to be tools of terror," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
In 2006, Alishtari agreed to discreetly transfer $152,000 for an undercover officer with the understanding that the money would be used to purchase night vision goggles and other equipment for a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Justice. During his guilty plea, Alishtari admitted that he intended to send the money from the U.S. despite knowing that it would help finance alleged terrorist activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
An indictment unsealed after his February 2007 arrest also alleges that Alishtari, a convert to Islam also known as Michael Mixon, transferred $25,000 from a bank account in New York to a bank account in Montreal, Canada. These funds, according to the Department of Justice, were allocated to provide material support to terrorists.
As part of his guilty plea, Alishtari also admitted to stealing millions of dollars through a fraudulent operation of a loan investment program called the Flat Electronic Data Intechange. From 1998 through 2004, Alishtari falsely promised his investors that they would receive high, guaranteed rates of return through his purported high-yield investment scheme. Alishtari reportedly described himself to potential investors as a sheikh whose virtual stock exchange was built on Islamic precepts and supported by wealthy families from the Middle East. According to the Department of Justice, Alishtari later admitted that he used a portion of the invested money to pay personal expenses.
Alishtari previously pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and money laundering. With his new guilty plea, Alishtari faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Several other American Muslim extremists have been charged, convicted or sentenced on terror-related charges in 2009. For more information, see: Criminal Proceedings in 2009.