The Arrest of Abdurahman Alamoudi

In the wild west tradition of shooting first and asking questions later, the U.S. government shot off a salvo against some of America’s most noted and “moderate” Muslims on March 20, 2002. The government now appears to have decided that this is the time to show SOMETHING for that well orchestrated and widely publicized witch hunt of more than a year ago.

Abdurahman Alamoudi, founder of the American Muslim Council, the American Muslim Foundation, an executive in a number of other prominent Muslim organizations, was arrested this past Sunday as he re-entered the United States from Britain. The substance of the criminal complaint against him revolves around his alleged violation of: Title 50, United States Code, Section 1705(b), Executive Order 12543, and 31 C.F.R. 550.207 and 550.209 (the International Economic Emergency Powers Act and the Libyan Sanctions Regulations).

As expected, Al Amoudi’s arrest has already been colored with the brush of terrorism innuendo. For example, after its reference to Alamoudi as “a chief architect of the Pentagon’s Muslim chaplain program” (a program presently under a cloud of suspicion), today’s Washington Post report on his arrest (“U.S. Charges Activist Over Links to Libya,” by Douglas Farah and Jon Mintz) states:

“Abdurahman Alamoudi, who as leader of the American Muslim Council met frequently with senior Clinton and Bush administration officials, was arrested Sunday at Dulles International Airport as he entered the United States from Britain, six weeks after he allegedly attempted to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars into Syria. U.S. officials said the final destination of the money is under investigation.

“Authorities said the arrest is an important step in the wide-ranging investigation of funding for terrorism in this country, a probe that centers on a cluster of foundations and businesses based in Herndon.”

The average reader of a “news article” of this nature would undoubtedly conclude that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is indeed on the case; that ‘another Muslim terrorist is off the street.’ But appearances can sometimes be deceiving. I was at the federal courthouse in Alexandria yesterday and picked up a copy of the indictment titled, “The United States v. Abdulrahman Mohammed Al Amoudi” (Case No. 03-1009-M). While the indictment does indeed cast subtle terrorism-related aspersions, it stops short of overtly accusing Alamoudi of being involved in, or of attempting to fund terrorist activity. Again, the substance of the complaint comprises an alleged violation of the Libyan Sanctions Regulations (LSRs) that were initiated by President Ronald Reagan on January 7, 1986.

No doubt, much will be made in the coming days about the $340,000 that Alamoudi allegedly tried to smuggle into Syria. The money is said to have been confiscated at London’s Heathrow Airport on August 16, 2003 (because it had not been declared). According to the affidavit, Alamoudi intimated to British authorities that the money was intended for deposit in Saudi Arabia, from where he would eventually feed it, in smaller amounts, to bank accounts in the United States.

Al Amoudi’s stated justification for doing this, according to the report, was because “American authorities have stringent measures to reduce the amounts of cash entering and leaving the United States.” He further stated that the money was intended for the work of the American Muslim Foundation. I believe him.

This writer has known Abdurahman Alamoudi for years; he is not a terrorist, and I would be shocked to learn he had ANY (even the slightest) “terrorist connections.” This being said, we encourage our Muslim and non-Muslim readers to not fall for the hype that we will undoubtedly hear in the coming days regarding this prominent Muslim leader. The airwaves are going to be saturated with the likes of [Steven] Emerson, [Daniel] Pipes and many others – as they opportunistically use this case to again warn American politicos of terrorist cells lurking around every corner, and the urgent need for true patriots to counter the ever menacing pan-Islamic threat to western civilization.

Don’t be surprised if in the not-to-distant future there appears a “superseding indictment,” alleging far more against this committed individual who repeatedly put his personal reputation on the line over the years – at times incurring warranted criticism from other Muslim activists – in an effort to sell as many Muslims as possible (especially well-to-do immigrants) on the good ole “American way.”

And don’t be surprised if indictments of other prominent Northern Virginia Muslims soon follow, as the government attempts to make the indefensible act of March 20, 2002, defensible.

Some related food for thought

On page A17 of the same issue of the Washington Post (9/30/03) is an article describing efforts made by high level Defense Department officials to deceive Congress to the tune $20 million (“Pentagon Investigates Movement of Funds”). The expose first reported on by the St. Petersburg Times, alleges that officials of the Special Operations Command – the secretive military agency that oversees the Green Berets and other units that specialize in clandestine operations – “were first asked to hide $40 million, but told Pentagon officials that they couldn’t handle so large an amount.”

It was also reported, “The allegation that the Pentagon sought to mislead Congress about any expenditures is explosive, especially because many legislators have complained that the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has not been responsive to their concerns.” (Left unsaid is if officials from the Defense Department lied to Congress, this too is supposed to be against the law and a punishable offense.)

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“Whenever a Muslim is accused of a crime, the specter of terrorism is raised and everyone panics.” – the late Bill Kunstler

The outcome of yesterday’s hearing at the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia was precisely what many of us expected. District Court Judge Claude Hilton denied Abdur-rahman Alamoudi’s request for bail, which means Alamoudi (founder of the American Muslim Council and the American Muslim Foundation) must remain in jail pending trial, presently set for February 16, 2004.

Abdurrahman Alamoudi has been imprisoned since his arrest on September 28, 2003, immediately following his return from an overseas trip, on charges of travel to and financial dealings with Libya, in violation of US imposed sanctions. (A charge that usually involves civil fines when non-Muslims are accused of a similar offense). The government continues to link the case to terrorist financing, even though no formal terrorism related charges have been filed. This brings to mind the aforementioned observation made by Kunstler in his informative book titled, “My Life as a Radical Lawyer,” and a more recent observation made by former Deputy US Attorney General, Viet Dien – one of the architects of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act:

“We don’t want to taint people as being of interest to the [terrorism] investigation simply because of our attention. We will let them go if there is not enough of a predicate to hold them. But we will follow them closely, AND IF THEY SO MUCH AS SPIT ON THE SIDEWALK WE’LL ARREST THEM. The message is that if you are a suspected terrorist you better be squeaky clean…IF WE CAN WE WILL KEEP YOU IN JAIL!” (emphasis mine)

The court ruled that even though Alamoudi is not a danger to the community, as argued by the government, he is considered a flight risk given his connections abroad and his knowledge and ability to raise funds. The court asserted that the charges are serious enough that no other restriction would ensure Mr. Alamoudi’s presence at trial other than his continued imprisonment. This ruling, however, given the nature of the official charges against Alamoudi, demonstrates yet another example, in our humble opinion, of the serious erosion of the “independence” of the US Judiciary in post-9/11 America.

Stanley Cohen, lead attorney for Alamoudi, presented affidavits and testimony from diverse members of the community who have known Alamoudi for the past fifteen to twenty years, (it’s unfortunate that Bill and Hillary weren’t present and accounted for during this phase of the proceedings), while noting that such affidavits and testimony underscored the fact that Alamoudi is not a flight risk, nor does he pose a danger to the community. While Judge Hilton concurred with the latter, he came down on the side of the government in the former.

At the press conference which followed the proceedings, The Peace And Justice Foundation made the following points:

  1. The Court’s decision violated the defendant’s constitutionally guaranteed “due process rights.”
  2. That given Alamoudi’s: (a) naturalized citizenship; (b) prominence; (c) extensive personal and business ties to the community, the Court did have other options, such as house arrest coupled with electronic surveillance monitoring.
  3. As regards the terrorism innuendo, and repeated references to his “support for Hamas,” etc., when it comes to other resistance organizations in the global community, such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) – an organization which has admittedly and consistently employed the use of “terrorism” in its struggle against British occupation – our government is capable of recognizing a distinction between its military and political wings. Representatives of Sein Fein (the political wing of the IRA) have traveled to the United States on numerous occasions to raise money for its work in Ireland, ofttimes with the vigorous support of prominent US political figures on Capitol Hill. (We could also cite anti-Castro Cuban-American organizations which have reportedly financed acts of terrorism in Cuba with virtual impunity.)

If we can draw such distinctions in Europe (and other parts of the world), in that particular decades-long battle, why can’t we do the same in the Middle East, where the humanitarian and political crisis is even more pronounced?! The answer to this rhetorical question for any aware and objective observer can be summed up in two words: ZIONIST ISRAEL!

In conclusion, on a more optimistic note, we have learned that the release of Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar (who has been imprisoned in the Chicago area on a civil contempt charge) may be on the near horizon. Reportedly, the terms of a bond arrangement have been worked out, although he know faces trial in the spring for criminal civil contempt. If convicted he could face up to 10 years imprisonment (for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in a government instigated witch hunt of Palestinians, both here and abroad, opposed to the Zionist occupation of Palestine). May Allah Ta’ala give him taufiq.