Sunday, October 5, 2003

A federal affidavit filed in U.S. District Court against Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, a chief architect of the U.S. military’s Muslim cleric training and selection program, suggests that he was attempting to smuggle $340,000 from Libya to one or more terrorist organizations operating out of Syria, including al Qaeda, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) — the group which claimed responsibility for Saturday’s suicide bombing which killed at least 19 people in a restaurant in Haifa, Israel.

The affidavit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria by Brett Gentrup, an agent with the the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE), said that Mr. al-Amoudi, a resident of Falls Church, was stopped by British customs agents at Heathrow Airport in London Aug. 16 before boarding a flight to Damascus. He allegedly had $340,000 in Libyan money in his possession. Mr. al-Amoudi was arrested at Dulles Airport last week on charges of illegally accepting $10,700 from the Libyan mission to the United Nations. Libya, the affidavit notes, is “one of the seven state sponsors of terrorism.”

The federal affidavit also states that Mr. al-Amoudi (who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1996, 17 years after first arriving in this country) has been granted power of attorney for 22 family members of persons detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on suspicion of al Qaeda ties. According to a transcript of one telephone conversation intercepted by federal authorities, Mr. al-Amoudi was overheard complaining about the fact that no Americans died when that organization bombed the U.S. Embassy in Kenya in August, 1998. In the same conversation, Mr. al-Amoudi, according to the federal government,suggestedcarryingoutmore operations like the July 18, 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Association cultural center in Buenos Aires. The Iranian- and Syrian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah is widely believed to be responsible for the attack, in which 85 people died and nearly 300 more were injured.

As ICE Agent Gentrup’s affidavit makes clear, Mr. al-Amoudi has never been shy about declaring his support for terrorist groups. At an Oct. 28, 2000 rally in Lafayette Park, he delivered a fiery speech supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. In a 1996 speech in Illinois to the Islamic Association of Palestine, Mr. al-Amoudi urged that President Clinton free from prison Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman — currently serving a life sentence for his role in the mid-1990s plot to blow up New York City landmarks.

In sum, the charges against Mr. al-Amoudi are serious ones indeed. On Oct. 14, Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, is scheduled to begin hearings to determine if Islamic radicals have infiltrated the U.S. military and other institutions, including the prison system. Given his prominent role in the Pentagon’s Muslim cleric training program, we are likely to learn more about Mr. al-Amoudi’s activities in the coming weeks.

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