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Terrorism


Former Michigan Congressman Indicted in Terrorism-Funding Case

Update: Ahmad Mustafa pleaded guilty on December 16, 2009, to illegally transferring funds to Iraq in violation of federal sanctions.  On April 6, 2010, Ali Mohamed Bagegni pleaded guilty to the same charges. Mark Siljander pleaded guilty on July 7, 2010, to obstruction of justice and violating the foreign agents registration act.


Posted: January 17, 2008

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against an Islamic charity and indicted a former congressman for accepting money from the organization to lobby on its behalf.

 

Mark Deli Siljander, 57, former Michigan congressman, was charged by a federal grand jury in the Western district of Missouri on January 16, 2008, with money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.  The new indictment also charged the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) and several of its former officers with eight new counts of "engaging in prohibited financial transactions for the benefit of U.S.-designated terrorist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar," who has supported terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. 

 

IARA, based in Columbia, Missouri, was previously indicted in March 2007, along with five officers, employees and associates for illegally transferring funds to Iraq, stealing government funds, misusing its charitable status to raise funds for an unlawful purpose, and attempting to avoid government detection of illegal activities. 

 

The new indictment includes the previous counts, and adds charges that IARA and its former executive director, Mubarak Hamed, engaged in prohibited financial transactions for the benefit of Gulbuddin Hekatyar.  Hekatyar, an Afghan mujahideen leader, is a U.S.-designated Specially Designated Global Terrorist and the founder of the terrorist group Hezb-e-Islami-Gulbuddin (HIG).  IARA and Hamed sent $130,000 in 2003 and 2004 to Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) bank accounts in Pakistan, allegedly for an orphanage housed in buildings controlled by Hekmatyar, according to the superseding indictment.

 

The new indictment also alleges that Siljander was hired to work for IARA in 2004, to lobby for the removal of the organization from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of non-profit organizations suspected of funding terrorism.  As compensation for his services, IARA transferred $50,000 in stolen federal funds to accounts controlled by Siljander at the National Heritage Foundation and the International Foundation, according to court documents.  In addition, Siljander is charged with making false statements to FBI agents in December 2005 and FBI agents and federal prosecutors in April 2007.   

 

Siljander served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican representative from Michigan from 1981 to 1987.  In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed Siljander as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, which he served as for one year.   

 

Other defendants named in the indictment are former executive director Mubarak Hamed, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Sudan; former member of IARA's board of directors Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 53, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Libya; former IARA fundraiser Ahmad Mustafa, 55, a U.S. permanent resident from Iraq; Regional director of the Middle East office of the Islamic African Relief Agency (also known as the Islamic Relief Agency, or ISRA) Khalid Al-Sudanee, 56, of Jordan; and former vice president for international operations for IARA Abdel Azim El-Siddig, 51, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Sudan.   

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