Two Men Convicted in Funding Iraqi Terrorist Group
Posted: May 31, 2005
A Swedish court convicted two men of collecting and transferring large sums of money to help fund an immense suicide bombing campaign in Iraq.
Ali Berzengi and Ferman Abdulla, both Iraqis, were convicted on May 12 of providing the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam with more than $148,000. The court ruled that the two were guilty of "receiving and transferring large sums to the terrorist organization Ansar al-Islam with the aim that the money be used for terror crimes." The prosecution also alleged that the terrorist organization then used almost half of that money to carry out a devastating suicide attack in Erbil, which killed over 109 Iraqis.
According to the court ruling, evidence such as taped telephone conversations, surveillance by foreign intelligence services and documents found in the defendants' homes contributed strongly to the guilty verdict. The court sentenced Berzengi and Abdulla to six and seven years in prison, respectively, in what in Sweden are considered substantial prison terms. After their release, they will be deported and barred from returning to Sweden.
Though both men have maintained their innocence, Abdulla has admitted to providing Ansar al-Islam with funds which his lawyer claims were intended for "people who needed help, for social causes." Despite his conviction, Berzengi continues to deny any association with the terrorist group.
Ansar al-Islam, founded by the Kurdish cleric Mullah Krekar, seeks to establish an Islamic government in Iraq. Originally based in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, Ansar al-Islam has expanded its reach into Europe, where it conducts a well-organized funding and recruiting campaign. Following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ansar al-Islam, and its primary spin-off Ansar al-Sunna, have conducted scores of attacks on Americans and Iraqis across the country.