Abdurahman Alamoudi (IslamOnline.net)
Abdurahman Alamoudi was one of the nation’s leading Muslim “moderates.” In former Congressman Paul Findley’s book Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Images of Islam, he praised Alamoudi as an “early pioneer in Muslim political activism”; he didn’t quote, of course, any of Alamoudi’s statements supporting terrorist groups.
Findley wasn’t the only one fooled by false images. The Washington Post today carries a revealing and disquieting piece about Alamoudi’s political influence in Washington.
It begins by recounting an iftaar dinner in 1996: “the guest list was impressive: Clinton administration officials, ambassadors and Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), a prominent Jewish senator. To Abdurahman Alamoudi, the charismatic Muslim leader who organized the Feb. 13, 1996, dinner, it was a landmark in his community’s struggle for political recognition. . . .
“Today, Alamoudi sits in a green jumpsuit in the Alexandria jail, charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Libya, a U.S.-designated sponsor of terrorism. He has pleaded not guilty.
“U.S. officials have also alleged that the Falls Church resident funneled money to organizations that support Middle East terrorist groups, but they have not charged him with any crime related to those allegations. His attorneys say the claims are unfounded.
“Perhaps no other arrest since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has so shaken the U.S. Muslim community or so reverberated through Washington’s political elite. Alamoudi is no youthful jihadi, no dirty-bomb conspirator. He is a well-heeled advocate who had represented American Muslims in White House meetings. He had helped found the Pentagon’s Muslim chaplain program. He also was a pillar of the local Muslim community, generously donating to charitable events and running a free health clinic in Falls Church.
“In nearly two dozen interviews, Alamoudi’s friends, his former colleagues and U.S. officials depict him as a man savvy enough to enjoy great success working the U.S. political system but too naive or stubborn to abide by American financial practices.
“U.S. officials suspect him of more sinister intentions. They said Alamoudi cultivated a moderate image that masks support for a radical agenda he long privately espoused. They point to his contacts with people the United States has designated terrorist sponsors, a statement of support for a 1994 terrorist attack and his association with groups suspected of funneling money to terrorists. They also question the destination of millions of dollars that passed through his personal bank accounts. . . .”
How did Alamoudi become so influential? “. . . as U.S. involvement in the Middle East deepened, the government was eager to reach out to Muslims. Alamoudi seemed moderate, a man who denounced terrorism and supported the 1991 Gulf War.
“The council wanted to ‘tell mainstream America that the Muslim community . . . is part and parcel of America,’ Alamoudi said in the interview. At the same time, he said, it wanted to ‘tell the Muslim community we need to organize ourselves, to get and obtain our rights.’ . . .
“Alamoudi’s energetic networking soon helped the council develop contacts at the highest levels of government. Its members met with members of Congress and officials from the National Security Council and Justice Department and even, on several occasions, with President Bill Clinton. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted one Ramadan reception, and prominent figures such as Lieberman spoke at others. . . .
“Lieberman was not alone in engaging Alamoudi. The State Department sent him to Muslim countries at least six times in the 1990s, to speak on religious tolerance and Muslim life in the United States, officials said.
“‘Arabic speakers that would say the right things to Arab audiences were in short supply,’ explained a State Department official. ‘Abdurahman Alamoudi got really good reviews. . . . We would have used him more if we could have.’ . . .
“Investigators are trying to follow Alamoudi’s personal money trail. On tax returns Alamoudi said he never earned more than $58,000 a year, but investigators have alleged that $2.17 million moved through his bank accounts from 1996 to 2002. Court papers show that Alamoudi’s brothers, who live in Saudi Arabia, gave him about $550,000 in unreported gifts from 1997 to 2002.
“He declined to comment on his personal funds other than to say he used the money to help American Muslims. . . .
“The 18-count indictment handed up Oct. 23 charges Alamoudi with money laundering, fraud and illegal travel in his relationships with the government of Moammar Gaddafi. As he passed through London on his way to Syria in August, prosecutors contended, Alamoudi received $340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills from a representative of a charity funded by the Libyan government. Alamoudi intended to illegally ship the money back to the United States, the indictment alleges. But British authorities discovered the cash in his luggage and confiscated it.
“Doing business with Libya is illegal under U.S. law because of that nation’s role in the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, and other terrorist acts. . . .
“In a separate document filed Sept. 31 to argue for Alamoudi’s continued detention, prosecutors also contended that Alamoudi has ties to organizations and individuals linked to the Islamic Resistance Movement, also known as Hamas, and al Qaeda. They have not charged him with any crimes relating to those allegations.
“Alamoudi said he had held only ceremonial posts with the organizations listed in court papers. ‘I might have signed a check or two, but I had no involvement in those organizations,’ he said.
“Prosecutors also alleged in court that Alamoudi explicitly endorsed a terrorist act. They read a transcript of a 1999 conversation between Alamoudi and an unidentified person during one of Alamoudi’s State Department-sponsored trips to the Middle East. According to the transcript, Alamoudi said the 1998 al Qaeda attacks on two U.S. embassies in East Africa were not effective because they killed hundreds of Africans but no Americans.
“Instead, he said, he favored the selection of ‘strategic’ targets like the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, where a 1994 bombing killed 86 people. Alamoudi described that attack as ‘a worthy operation,’ according to the transcript.
“In the interview, Alamoudi said such statements were part of an effort to win the trust of those who support violence and get ‘people from the extremist view to come back [to] the center.’
“Even before the current case, however, Alamoudi was under investigation for possible terrorist financing, according to a government document and a Department of Homeland Security official. A search-warrant affidavit filed in March 2002 said Alamoudi was an officer or director of several organizations that are part of what the government calls the Safa Group, a network of Muslim charities, businesses and think tanks based in Northern Virginia. The government is investigating whether those organizations were used to funnel millions of dollars to terrorists.
“No one has been charged in the cases. Nancy Luque, an attorney for many of the groups and individuals, has categorically denied they have any connection to terrorism. . . .”
Politicians began to treat him more carefully. “In late October 2000, Hillary Clinton, who was running for the U.S. Senate in New York, returned thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Alamoudi and other Muslims after some media described them as supporters of Palestinian violence. Presidential candidate George W. Bush returned $1,000 at the same time.
“Alamoudi was furious. When he arrived at a demonstration against U.S. Middle East policies in Lafayette Square on Oct. 28, 2000, friends recalled, he angrily took the microphone.
“‘Anybody’s a supporter of Hamas here?’ he yelled as the crowd cheered. ‘Hear that, Bill Clinton, we are all supporters of Hamas! . . . I am also a supporter of Hezbollah!'”
OK. So he said that because he was angry with Hillary and Bush? Why did the crowd cheer? Didn’t all the moderate Muslims who assert that suicide bombing is forbidden by the Qur’an protest this display of support?