A prominent American Muslim leader in Washington was arrested yesterday after arriving from a trip to the Middle East in which he allegedly tried to transport $340,000 from a group tied to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder of the American Muslim Council, the American Muslim Foundation and the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council, has been charged with violating federal law by receiving cash from the Libyan mission to the United Nations and by failing to disclose numerous trips to Libya, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
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Abdul Rahman Alamoudi (Photo: IslamOnline.net)
The U.S. banned such actions under U.S. economic sanctions imposed in 1986 after Libya was tied to terrorist bombings in Vienna and Rome.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office told WorldNetDaily Alamoudi is charged under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to deal with “any unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States.”
An affidavit filed with the complaint cites statements attributed to Alamoudi in which he expressed his support of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and said “if we are outside [the U.S.] we can say ‘Oh, Allah destroy America,’ but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it.”
He also is reported to have participated in a conference with leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and al- Qaida.
Alamoudi’s American Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council endorsed the religious credentials of Capt. James Yee, the Muslim chaplain accused of espionage while working with suspected terrorists imprisoned at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba.
As leader of the American Muslim Council, he frequently met with senior Clinton and Bush administration officials, including a 2001 meeting with Karl Rove to discuss the White House’s faith-based initiative.
Alamoudi was arrested at Dulles International Airport after arriving on a British Airways flight from London. He made an initial court appearance today in Alexandria, Va., and a detention hearing is schedule for 2 p.m. tomorrow.
The affidavit says Alamoudi was detained Aug. 16 attempting to travel from London to Damascus, Syria. UK customs officials at Heathrow airport seized approximately $340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills.
Alamoudi told officers of New Scotland Yard’s National Terrorist Financial Investigations Unit that he received the money from an unknown person at a London hotel after visiting the World Islamic Call Society, a group established by Gadhafi in Tripoli for the purpose of propagating Islam worldwide.
The Muslim leader said “he intended eventually to deposit the money in banks located in Saudi Arabia, from where he would feed it back in smaller sums into accounts in the United States,” according to the affidavit.
After initially claiming this was a one-time transaction, Alamoudi conceded there were others, involving amounts in the range of $10,000 to $20,000.
Stamps in his Yemeni passport, which he possesses along with two U.S. passports, indicated has been traveling to Libya regularly since May 2002.
During a raid on Alamoudi’s Falls Church, Va., home and office in March 2002, officials discovered a letter from Alamoudi to Ambassador Abu Zaid Omar Dorda, permanent representative of the Libyan Mission to the United Nations.
In the letter, Alamoudi thanked the ambassador for his continuous support and assistance, advice and guidance, according to the affidavit. He also referred to an upcoming meeting with the Iranian president, Mohamed Khatemi, in New York.
Alamoudi further requested the ambassador’s assistance in arranging meetings with other leaders and ministers of foreign affairs from countries regarded as important decision-makers in the Arab and Islamic world, including the Islamist regime of Sudan, Pakistan, Libya and Iraq, which then was under Saddam Hussein.
IslamOnline.net noted Alamoudi, a naturalized American citizen born in Eritrea, previously worked with the Muslim Students Association and served as a representative of the Islamic Society of North America and a vice director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Last year, Alamoudi accused critics of the American Muslim Council of launching a smear campaign against the group after inviting FBI Director Robert Mueller to speak at its annual conference in Alexandria, Va., June 28, 2002.
“What we hope is that people who really see this crusade against AMC and character assassination of whoever is associated with AMC [will] stand up and say what they know about us,” said Alamoudi said, according to Islam Online. “Because if today it’s AMC, tomorrow it will be somebody else.”
In a New York Post editorial, June 18, 2002, Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes called Mueller’s decision to speak at the AMC meeting a “blunder,” because, “Far from being ‘the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States,’ the AMC is among their most extreme.”
Pipes – whose recent appointment by President Bush to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace was vigorously opposed by Muslim groups – said rather than endorse the AMC by its presence, Mueller “should put the organization under surveillance, ascertain its funding sources, look over its books, and check its staff’s visa status.”
Alamoudi was at the center of controversies during the 2000 election campaigns of Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. Both candidates returned money from Alamoudi after remarks surfaced from the Muslim leader’s Oct. 28, 2000, speech.
At a rally in Lafeyette Park in Washington, D.C., Alamoudi said, “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. We are all supporters of Hamas. I wish they added that I am also a supporter
Later, in a January 2002 interview with the CBS News program “48 Hours,” Alamoudi said he regretted the comments, “not because I said it. Because I did not qualify it. I should have said I support Hamas, I support Hezbollah . . . but I don’t support terrorism.”
But Alamoudi’s strategy for the United States was revealed in a statement, included in the affidavit filed today, made at the Islamic Association for Palestine’s 1996 Annual Convention in Illinois.
According to the testimony of terrorism expert Steven Emerson to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, Alamoudi said:
“I think our attitude toward America should change … we have a chance, in America, to be the moral leadership of America. The problem is when? It will happen, it will happen [Allah willing], I have no doubt in my mind, Muslims sooner or later will be the moral leadership of America. It depends on me and you, either we do it now or we do it after a hundred years, but this country will become a Muslim country. And I [think] if we are outside this country we can say ‘Oh, Allah destroy America,’ but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it. “
Alamoudi also asked the group – which launched the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations in 1993 – when it would press the president about Musa [Abu] Marzook, a Hamas leader deported in 1997, and Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the 1995 plot to bring down airliners and blow up New York City landmarks.
The affidavit cited a Jerusalem Post article, June 22, 2001, which said Alamoudi participated in a Beirut conference in January of that year alongside leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and al- Qaida.
A communique issued by the conference called for a boycott on American and Israeli products, stating: “America today is a second Israel.”
Alamoudi is the third figure from a high-profile Muslim group to be arrested this year. In July, Randall Todd “Ismail” Royer, who served as communications director for a fund-raising effort sponsored by the American Muslim Council, was among 11 men indicted for conspiring to train on American soil for a “violent jihad.”
Royer, of Falls Church, Va., also was on the national staff of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, another group that considers itself a leading civil rights voice for American Muslims.
Another CAIR figure, Bassem Khafagi, was arrested in January while serving as the group’s director of community relations.
Pipes told WorldNetDaily “if law and immigration and other authorities in the U.S. really pay attention to the political extremism and criminal activity of the Islamists, we will be a much safer country, because not only will these organizations and individuals fade away, but it also will offer an opportunity for the moderate Muslims, whose voices are little heard today, to make a stand.”