JANUARY 17, 2008
A former United States congressman and delegate to the United Nations has been indicted by a grand jury for operating a terrorist fundraising ring that sent money to Islamic extremists who threatened American troops in the Middle East.
Michigan Republican Mark Siljander has been charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice for lying about lobbying other U.S. lawmakers on behalf of the Islamic charity (Islamic American Relief Agency or IARA) that was known to secretly fund terrorists. Siljander served in the Michigan state House of Representatives for four years in the late 1970s before getting elected to the U.S. House in 1981.
Authorities say Siljander was hired in March 2004 by IARA director Mubarak Hamed and board member Ali Mohamed Bagegni to advocate for the removal of the charity from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of non-profit organizations identified as supporting international terrorism. The men also wanted the well-connected former congressman to help them get reinstatement as an approved government contractor.
As compensation for his help, the charity officials transferred about $50,000 in stolen federal funds to Siljander’s accounts. Federal prosecutors say the money had been stolen by Hamed and Bagegni from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Issued by a grand jury in Missouri, the 42-count indictment offers alarming details of a sophisticated terrorist operation based in an unsuspecting place–Middle America. The U.S. raised cash was sent to a well-known Afghan mujahideen named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an al-Qaeda and Taliban operative.
Hekmatyar has engaged in holy war against the United States and international troops in the Middle East and U.S. intelligence officials have long labeled him a specially designated global terrorist, blocking all of his financial properties and interests. Incredibly, a U.S. lawmaker helped fund his terrorist operation.
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