Prosecutors See Potential Break In Terrorism-Financing Probe

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Mon Aug 2 05:31:18 PDT 2004


The Wall Street Journal

 August 2, 2004


Prosecutors See Potential Break
 In Terrorism-Financing Probe

August 2, 2004; Page A4

WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors investigating terrorism financing said
they hope to unravel the murky finances of some major fundamentalist
groups, after winning cooperation from a key fund-raiser for Islamic causes
in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

Lawyers for the fund-raiser -- prominent Muslim activist Abdurahman
Alamoudi -- said the Justice Department's belief that he has information on
Islamist terror networks is a fantasy. Mr. Alamoudi on Friday pleaded
guilty to tax and immigration fraud and violating terrorism sanctions on
Libya, in a bargain with prosecutors. (See related article1.)

"There is not a shred of evidence" linking Mr. Alamoudi to Islamist terror
groups, his lawyer Stanley Cohen told reporters outside the courthouse in
Alexandria, Va., where Mr. Alamoudi confessed. While Mr. Alamoudi admits to
involvement in a plot to kill the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, "none of
that involves Hamas, Al Qaeda or jihad," Mr. Cohen said.

The government takes a very different view. "Alamoudi was a major player in
the financial support of terrorism," said Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for
the Eastern District of Virginia. "Mr. Alamoudi's decision to cooperate
with the government will help us gain additional insight into terrorist
activities," added Gary Bald, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation's counterterrorism division.

The contradictory statements suggest the government's "cooperation
agreement" with Mr. Alamoudi is likely to be severely tested in coming
weeks and months.

While Mr. Alamoudi and his lawyer Mr. Cohen have seemed almost eager to
give up his Libyan financial backers including Col. Muammar Gadhafi, the
Libyan leader, it appears the Libyans aren't who the government really
wants. The charges to which Mr. Alamoudi confessed do little to help build
a case against Libya, which is in a diplomatic rapprochement with the U.S.
after agreeing several months ago to give up its weapons of mass

On the other hand, prosecutors do see Mr. Alamoudi as a central figure in
their sprawling, multipronged investigation into fundamentalist
fund-raising in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Alamoudi, who was born in Eritrea, has little ideological loyalty to
the Libyan regime, whose origins are secular, socialist and nationalist.
His background is deeply Islamist and rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, a
militant fundamentalist society founded in Egypt that seeks world
government under the Quran whose leaders often provide ideological
justification for terrorism. Mr. Cohen is well known to federal prosecutors
for his pro-Palestinian rhetoric and a client list that includes many Hamas
and Al Qaeda figures.

Still, Mr. Cohen doesn't deny the plain language of Mr. Alamoudi's deal.
"He will provide honest and complete and candid cooperation," he promised.

In several court filings, prosecutors have disclosed numerous links between
Mr. Alamoudi and alleged terrorists and their supporters, including top
Hamas leaders and some alleged supporters of al Qaeda. In addition, Mr.
Alamoudi admitted in court that two prominent Saudi dissidents in London
were key figures in the plot to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah that was
broken up last fall.

The government has a good deal of leverage to get what it wants. Mr.
Alamoudi won't be sentenced until Oct. 15, and while he faces as many as 23
years in prison, a good word from prosecutors could net him far less.
Moreover, since he pleaded guilty to an immigration charge, his wife's
status as a U.S. citizen is at the mercy of the government.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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