FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NSD
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2008 (202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOV TDD (202) 514-1888
ISLAMIC CHARITY CHARGED WITH TERRORIST FINANCING; FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN INDICTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING
The 42-count superseding indictment returned today was announced by Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri; Joseph Billy, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division; and Monte C. Strait, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Kansas City Field Office.
“This superseding indictment paints 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 payment for his advocacy on behalf of the charity,” said Assistant Attorney General Wainstein.
“An organization right here in the American heartland
allegedly sent funds to Pakistan for the benefit of a specially designated
global terrorist with ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” said U.S. Attorney
Wood. “By bringing this case in the middle of
IARA, the Islamic charitable organization named in today’s
indictment, was headquartered in
Also charged in today’s superseding indictment is Mark
Deli Siljander, 57, a former U.S. Congressman from
Other defendants named in the indictment are Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 53, formerly of Columbia, Mo, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Libya and a former member of IARA’s board of directors; Ahmad Mustafa, 55, of Columbia, a citizen of Iraq, and a former fund-raiser for IARA; Khalid Al-Sudanee, 56, a citizen and resident of Jordan, and the regional director of the Middle East office of the Islamic African Relief Agency (also known as the Islamic Relief Agency, or ISRA); and Abdel Azim El-Siddig, 51, of Palos Heights, Ill., a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Sudan, and formerly vice president for international operations for IARA.
New Terrorism-Related Charges Against IARA
Today’s superseding indictment adds to the original
charges by alleging that IARA and its former executive director, Mubarak Hamed,
engaged in prohibited financial transactions for the benefit of Specially
Designated Global Terrorist, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan mujahideen leader
and founder of the Hezb-e-Islami-Gulbuddin (HIG), who has participated in and
supported terrorist acts by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Hekmatyar has vowed to
engage in a holy war against the
to Counts Thirty-Four through Forty-One of the new indictment, IARA and Hamed knowingly
and willfully engaged in financial transactions for the benefit of Hekmatyar’s
organization by sending approximately $130,000 in 2003 and 2004 in numerous transactions
to Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) bank accounts in
“Sending money to
benefit designated terrorists jeopardizes both
It is important to note that the indictment does not charge any of the defendants with material support of terrorism, nor does it allege that they knowingly financed acts of terror. Instead, the indictment alleges that some of the defendants engaged in financial transactions that benefited property controlled by a designated terrorist, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
New Charges Against Former Congressman
Today’s superseding indictment also names Mark Deli Siljander as a defendant on counts of money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, Siljander was hired in March 2004 by defendants IARA, Hamed, and Bagegni to advocate for the removal of IARA from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of non-profit organizations suspected of being involved in supporting international terrorism.
Senate Finance Committee placed IARA on this list of charities and published
the list on Jan. 14, 2004. Siljander was to advocate for IARA’s removal from
the list and reinstatement as an approved government contractor by gathering
information and meeting with individuals and agencies of the
As compensation for the services that Siljander agreed to perform, IARA transferred roughly $50,000 in stolen federal funds to accounts that were controlled by Siljander at the National Heritage Foundation and the International Foundation. According to the indictment, the funds used to compensate Siljander for his services had previously been stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by IARA, Hamed and Bagegni. The International Foundation and the National Heritage Foundation, which is not related to the Heritage Foundation, are not charged with any wrongdoing in this case.
IARA, Hamed and Bagegni had previously entered into a series of agreements with USAID
for relief projects in
According to Count Twenty-Eight of the indictment, Siljander and defendants IARA, Hamed, Bagegni and El-Siddig conspired to engage in money laundering by transferring stolen USAID funds, knowing that the transfers were designed to conceal the nature, source and ownership of the proceeds. Counts Twenty-Nine through Thirty-One of the indictment charge Siljander along with IARA, Hamed, Bagegni and El-Siddig with engaging in money laundering by transferring stolen USAID funds, knowing that the transfers were designed to conceal the nature, source and ownership of the proceeds.
Obstruction of Justice
Count Thirty-Two of the indictment alleges that Siljander obstructed the due administration of justice in the grand jury investigation in the Western District of Missouri by making false statements to FBI agents in December 2005 and to FBI agents and federal prosecutors in April 2007.
According to the indictment, Siljander told federal officials that he had not been hired to do any lobbying or advocacy work for IARA and that the money or checks he received from IARA were charitable “donations” intended to assist him in writing a book about bridging the gap between Islam and Christianity. When he made these statements, he then well knew and believed that each statement was false, the indictment alleges.
The public is cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. AID-Office of Inspector General.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Gonzalez from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri, in conjunction with Trial Attorneys Corey J. Smith, National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Steven M. Mohlhenrich, Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.