Alamoudi and those bags of Libyan cash

by J. Michael Waller, Insight, October 13, 2003.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. citizen has been sentenced to 23 years in jail on charges related to his activities in the United States and abroad with nations and organizations that have ties to terrorism, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security announced today. Abdurahman M. Alamoudi [pictured], a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Eritrea, was sentenced to 276 months in jail by District Judge Claude M. Hilton in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, this morning.

On July 30, 2004, Alamoudi pleaded guilty to three federal offenses: one count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which imposes terrorism-related sanctions prohibiting unlicensed travel to and commerce with Libya; one count of false statements made in his application for naturalization; and a tax offense involving a long-term scheme to conceal from the IRS his financial transactions with Libya and his foreign bank accounts and to omit material information from the tax returns filed by his charities.

As part of a plea agreement, Alamoudi agreed to cooperate fully and truthfully in any and all investigations, including an ongoing investigation into a plot to assassinate an ally in the war against terrorism. Under the terms of that plea agreement, Alamoudi also agreed that he should be sentenced under the terrorism provision of the federal sentencing guidelines, and he agreed to forfeit all proceeds from his illegal dealings with Libya, which total at least $910,000, including $340,000 seized from him in the United Kingdom.

Alamoudi became a naturalized citizen in 1996. He is the founder and former executive director of the American Muslim Council (AMC), the founder of the American Muslim Foundation (AMF), and was an influential member of other Islamic political and charitable organizations.

Court documents filed in conjunction with his plea agreement describe how, from November 1995 to September 2003, Alamoudi devised a scheme to obtain money from Libya and other sources overseas for transmission into the United States without attracting the attention of federal immigration, customs and law enforcement officials. Alamoudi admitted to participating in a comprehensive scheme to conceal prohibited financial transactions related to Libya, his travel to Libya, and financial transactions designed to evade currency reporting requirements, among other things.

Alamoudi made at least 10 trips to Libya, many lasting as long as five days. According to court documents, while in Libya, Alamoudi participated in meetings with Libyan government officials. Initially, during a meeting on March 13, 2003, Alamoudi and Libyan government officials discussed creating “headaches” and disruptions in Saudi Arabia. As the scheme continued, however, Alamoudi learned that the actual objective was the assassination of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Alamoudi participated in recruiting participants for this plot by introducing the Libyans to two Saudi dissidents in London and facilitating the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash from the Libyans to those dissidents to finance the plot.

Alamoudi has been in U.S. custody since his arrest shortly after arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport on Sept. 28, 2003. Alamoudi intentionally withheld information about his Libya travel in response to a question from a Customs officer about which countries he had traveled to his itinerary.

“The government’s investigations are designed to prevent acts of terrorism by obtaining cooperation and developing intelligence,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “The sentence handed down in the Alamoudi case today shows that the system works: a terrorist facilitator has been sentenced to jail and we have reason to expect that through his cooperation, we will obtain intelligence that will assist us in our ongoing efforts to advance these critical investigations.”

“This is a clear victory in the war against terrorism,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty of the Eastern District of Virginia. “Terrorists need money to operate, and the defendant was caught in the act of financing their deadly schemes.”

Michael Garcia, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stated: “The sentence handed down today reflects the seriousness of Alamoudi’s crimes. His conviction is the result of an extensive joint investigation by ICE, the FBI and IRS, in which agents tracked suitcases stuffed with cash, unearthed Swiss bank accounts, and documented meetings with shadowy figures around the globe. This case demonstrates how ICE is applying its legal authorities under the Joint Terrorism Task Force umbrella to address threats to our homeland.”

“The ability to detect and analyze complex financial information from numerous sources is essential to the government’s fight against terror,” said Nancy Jardini, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The IRS has committed extensive civil and criminal resources to shut down terrorist financing from domestic sources, including charities.”

The case is being investigated by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, Criminal Investigations at the Internal Revenue Service, and the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven P. Ward, on detail from the Tax Division of the Department of Justice, prosecuted the case.