- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

A Muslim activist accused of trying to smuggle cash from Libya into the United States to fund terrorists was at the heart of a network of Virginia-based charities tied in the early 1990s to the illegal diversion of money to Islamic radicals overseas, law enforcement authorities said.

Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, of Falls Church, founder of the American Muslim Foundation and the American Muslim Council, served as executive assistant to the president of the SAAR Foundation when the Saudi-based organization was targeted by a federal task force investigating Islamic-based charities suspected of funding terrorists

Mr. al-Amoudi, 51, who faces arraignment today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, was named last week in an 18-count indictment on charges 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.

Prosecutors are expected to ask that he be held without bail.

Mr. al-Amoudi is accused of attempting to smuggle $340,000 from Libya through Saudi Arabia to the United States to evade U.S. currency-reporting requirements. The cash was intended for deposit in Saudi banks “from which he would feed it back in smaller sums into accounts in the United States,” according to court papers.

Authorities said Mr. al-Amoudi’s name first surfaced in the investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, identified by an informant as the “middleman” in arranging financing for Islamic radicals.

He was not charged but has remained a key focus, they said.

Mr. al-Amoudi’s ties to the SAAR Foundation are mentioned in an affidavit filed in his pending case by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Brent Gentrup.

The SAAR Foundation, which takes its name from the initials of Suleiman Abdul Al-Aziz al-Rajhi, a descendent of one of Saudi Arabia’s richest families, has been linked to Khalid bin Mahfouz, former financial adviser to the Saudi royal family and ex-president of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia.

French intelligence agents have named Mr. Mahfouz as a key associate of Osama bin Laden.

Authorities said the foundation also has ties to Al-Taqwa, an association of offshore banks and management firms that have purportedly helped al Qaeda manage its money. Al-Taqwa’s assets were frozen by the Bush administration after the September 11 attacks, suspected of being used to raise funds for al Qaeda.

During raids in 1995, the government identified a network of Islamic-based charities in Northern Virginia purportedly controlled by the SAAR Foundation. Investigators said millions of dollars were funneled out of the country to fund terrorism.

The Saudi government has denied using front organizations to fund terrorists, calling the accusations “simply nonsense.”

Mr. Bush issued an executive order Sept. 23, 2001, calling on authorities to block charitable donations by U.S. citizens to terrorist-related organizations.

Under that order, agents raided 14 Islamic businesses in Northern Virginia in March, seizing two dozen computers, hundreds of bank statements and other documents. In August, several Virginia-based Islamic charities also were identified in court papers as having raised millions of dollars to fund terrorist groups.

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