Still, the defense pleads that Seda “has been a respected community leader and a strong force for peace and inter-faith harmony” in his own town.
Convicted money-launderer and tax-evader Pete Seda was well aware he was helping fund a radical Muslim jihadists’ training camp in Chechnya when he laundered money through his Islamic charity in Ashland on their behalf, the government claims in new court filings.
The former Ashland arborist and peace activist kept apprised through e-mails of Chechens’ fight to secede from Russia and form an Islamic state, helped translate Internet postings about their terrorist acts and even expressed a desire to fight alongside the jihadists he helped fund, documents claim.
Recently declassified documents also state agents from Russia’s successor to the KGB discovered that about $130,000 of the roughly $150,000 Seda helped smuggle out of the country in March 2000 went directly to a camp that required graduates to perform acts of terror.
A month later, Russian spies intercepted a telephone conversation in which one of Seda’s co-directors in his Ashland-based Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter tells the camp’s head that Al-Haramain-bought grenade launchers, sniper rifles and other weapons were on their way, records show.
Prosecutors assert that such evidence links Seda philosophically and financially to the Muslim rebels deemed terrorists in Chechnya.
It also highlights the government’s argument for a so-called “terrorism enhancement” in its quest to see Seda sentenced Tuesday in Eugene to the maximum eight years in prison for his tax evasion and conspiracy convictions.
But defense attorneys counter that the government’s portrayal of Seda relies upon “unfounded speculation” and that there is no legal basis for sentencing Seda under a terrorism enhancement, court filings state.
Seda’s legal camp also asserts that the Russian-supplied evidence is prejudicial and unreliable hearsay, and that the government’s presentencing report generally violates federal law.
Seda, also known as Pete Sedaghaty, instead should be sentenced to six months in prison with credit for his time served while awaiting sentencing since his September conviction, defense lawyers argue.
“Pete Sedaghaty has been a respected community leader and a strong force for peace and inter-faith harmony in Ashland since the 1990s,” according to a defense memorandum. “Even at his own personal peril, Mr. Sedaghaty has repeatedly spoken out against terrorism and the forces of evil.”….
It’s very easy to denounce “terrorism” and “evil.” But how does he feel about jihad? His actions speak volumes.