- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

A prominent Muslim leader, accused of trying to smuggle cash into the United States, was a key player in an elaborate scheme to launder money through “front companies” and “phantom organizations” — many based in Virginia — and use it to fund terrorism, authorities said.

According to law enforcement officials and court records, Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, 51, of Falls Church, founder of the American Muslim Council and the American Muslim Foundation, was involved in or knew about the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to companies and organizations tied to international terrorists, including Hamas and al Qaeda.

Mr. al-Amoudi, who was instrumental in gaining access for U.S. Muslims to the White House, Congress and the FBI, is accused of attempting to smuggle cash into the United States to fund “one or more” terrorist organizations.

He pleaded not guilty last week in federal court in Virginia and is scheduled for trial beginning Feb. 16.

The longtime Muslim spokesman, who met personally with President Clinton and with George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign, was ordered held without bail during a Wednesday hearing before U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton, who cited Mr. al-Amoudi as a flight risk.

Federal authorities said money was forwarded to terrorist groups from offices in Alexandria that housed a number of companies and foundations in which Mr. al-Amoudi is listed as an officer, founder, director or board member. They include the American Muslim Foundation, Success Foundation, Humanitarian Relief Association and the Happy Hearts Trust.

Some of the cash, authorities said, went directly to Humanitarian Appeal International, which has close ties to Hamas, and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which U.S. intelligence officials said is Hamas’ North American fund-raiser.

At least $160,000 went to an organization implicated in al Qaeda’s December 1999 plot to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.

Authorities said Mr. al-Amoudi also served as vice president of the Taibah International Aid Association, a nonprofit organization based in Falls Church that lists as a founding officer Abdullah A. bin Laden, whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have identified as a nephew of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

ICE Agent Brent Gentrup, in an affidavit filed in the al-Amoudi case, said documents seized in a March 2002 raid on the American Muslim Foundation and Success Foundation offices in Alexandria included an agreement, written in Arabic, naming Taibah International as an agent for the Success Foundation “in executing its external projects.”

Also seized were two checks, one for $25,010 and another for $10,000, drawn on the Success Foundation account and payable to Taibah International.

The Gentrup affidavit also noted that Mr. al-Amoudi had access to substantial amounts of cash, including $2.2 million in four separate accounts, though he did not report the cash on his federal tax returns.

The affidavit said Mr. al-Amoudi also maintained various overseas accounts from which he received about $48,000 from two banks, one in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the other in Zurich.

A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Eritrea, Mr. al-Amoudi was named in an 18-count indictment accusing him of engaging in illegal financial transactions with Libya, money laundering, misuse of a passport, failure to report foreign bank accounts and lying in an application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Authorities said he attempted to smuggle $340,000 into the United States, which was intended for delivery in Damascus, Syria, to terrorist groups. They said Mr. al-Amoudi was “engaged in financial transactions” with Libya, which the affidavit described as “one of the seven state sponsors of terrorism.”

The indictment said that from November 1995 to September, Mr. al-Amoudi “devised a scheme to obtain money from Libya and other sources overseas for transmission into the United States” without attracting the attention of federal law enforcement authorities.

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