US charges Muslim activist
Illegal association with Libya alleged
WASHINGTON -- One of the country's leading Islamic activists, a chief architect of the Pentagon's Muslim chaplain program, was charged yesterday with illegally accepting money from Libya for his efforts to persuade the United States to lift sanctions against that nation. Abdurahman Alamoudi, who as leader of the American Muslim Council met frequently with senior Clinton and Bush administration officials, was arrested Sunday at Dulles International Airport as he entered the United States from Britain, six weeks after he allegedly tried to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars into Syria. US officials said the intended destination of the money is under investigation.
Authorities described the arrest as an important step in the wide-ranging investigation of funding for terrorism in this country, a probe that centers on a cluster of foundations and businesses based in Herndon, Va.
Agents for the Department of Homeland Security alleged Alamoudi received the $340,000 from Libyan officials as part of a long-standing relationship with that government. In exchange for financial assistance for Muslim activist groups he founded in the United States, authorities said, Alamoudi was trying to help persuade the United States to lift sanctions against that nation.
Doing business with Libya remains illegal under US law because of that nation's role in the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. The United Nations removed sanctions against Libya on Sept. 12, although the State Department still lists Libya as a sponsor of terrorism.
Alamoudi, 51, a naturalized US citizen born in Eritrea, is a senior executive for several of the Herndon charities. They were raided in March 2002 by law enforcement agents seeking evidence that the network of interlocking organizations was funneling money to terrorist groups, according to a search warrant issued then.
Kevin Delli-Colli, director of the Washington field office of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Alamoudi's home and several of those organizations were searched again by federal agents Sunday, after his arrest.
"Mr. Alamoudi is a significant figure and has been under investigation for some time," Delli-Colli said in an interview.
Alamoudi's foundation is among the few Muslim groups that accredit Islamic chaplains for the Pentagon, and he is the second person affiliated with the chaplain's program arrested this month.
James Yee, an Army captain and Muslim chaplain at the US Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was arrested Sept. 10 on suspicion of espionage while allegedly carrying sketches of the facility and documents related to interrogators and detainees.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.