U.S. Announces Plea in Terrorism Financing Case
U.S. Citizen Agrees to Plead Guilty to Criminal Violations Including Violating Anti-Terrorism Sanctions Law
|Washington, D.C. July 30, 2004|
Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Assistant Attorney General Eileen J. O'Connor of the Justice Department's Tax Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Paul McNulty, FBI Counterterrorism Division Assistant Director Gary Bald, Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, and IRS Commissioner Mark Everson announced today that Abdurahman M. Alamoudi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has agreed to plead guilty to three criminal violations relating to his activities in the United States and abroad with nations and organizations that have ties to terrorism and his participation in a plot to assassinate an ally in the war against terror.
Alamoudi pleaded guilty this morning in a hearing before District Judge Claude M. Hilton in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Alamoudi pleaded guilty to three felony 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.
Alamoudi faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison, seven years of supervised release, $750,000 in fines, and revocation of his citizenship. Under the terms of the plea agreement unsealed and entered today, Alamoudi agreed that he should be sentenced under the terrorism provision of the federal sentencing guidelines. He also is required 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. Under the plea agreement, Alamoudi is also required to cooperate fully and truthfully in any and all investigations. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for October 15, 2004.
"Law enforcement officers here and abroad are working every day to remove the active threat posed by terrorists who have sworn to hit America. A critical tool in protecting the lives and liberties of our citizens is tracking terrorism funding and choking off the supply lines of blood money that makes terrorism possible," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "In this case as in others, through the criminal justice system and the leverage of tough terrorism sentencing guidelines, America has gained the cooperation of an individual who can provide critical intelligence in our war against terrorism, particularly regarding terrorism-financing."
"This conviction is a milestone in the war on terrorism. Alamoudi was a major player in the financial support of terrorism," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia PaulMcNulty.
"Mr. Alamoundi's decision to cooperate with the government will help us gain additional insight into terrorist activities. We have this piece of the puzzle because of the cooperative efforts of multiple agencies, and we will continue working together systematically and methodically to undermine terrorists' financial and logistical support," said FBI Counterterrorism Division Assistant Director Gary Bald.
"Alamoudi pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and engaging in illegal transactions with Libya, both crimes within ICE's traditional law enforcement authority. This case clearly shows how those powerful tools are being effectively used to address threats to our homeland security," said Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia.
"We will vigorously pursue all violations of the law, including lying to the IRS, in going after terrorism," said Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson.
In 1996, Alamoudi, who was born in Eritrea, became a naturalized U.S. citizen. 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. Alamoudi also has ties to the Islamic Call Society, which has connections to the Libyan government.
The statement of facts agreed to as part of the plea agreement describes 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. The purpose of this scheme was to hide the amount of money he controlled, how and where he obtained it, and what he did with it. The statement of facts describes a comprehensive scheme to conceal, including: engaging in prohibited financial transactions related to Libya; making false statements to immigration officials about his overseas travel; making false statements to customs officials denying travel to Libya; misusing his United States passport to travel to Libya; obtaining visas for travel to Libya from the Libyan Embassy; travel to Libya on different passports those presented to customs officials upon his return from Libya; attempting to structure the importation of cash received from Libyan sources overseas and to structure transactions with domestic financial institution to evade currency reporting requirements; and concealing foreign bank accounts.
Beginning in 2000, Alamoudi made frequent trips to Libya via Great Britain, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia, using both his United States and Yemeni passport. Until earlier this year, U.S. citizens were barred, unless licensed or otherwise authorized, from traveling to or engaging in financial transactions with Libya. Although he admits that he knew of these restrictions, Alamoudi never attempted to comply with the requirements.
Alamoudi made at least 10 trips to Libya, many lasting as long as five days. According to the statement of facts, 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 disruption in Saudi Arabia. As the scheme continued, however, Alamoudi learned that the actual objective of the scheme 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.
On August 16, 2003, British Customs officials at Heathrow International Airport stopped Alamoudi, after he was discovered attempting to leave the country with $340,000 in United States currency. The money was seized, however Alamoudi was allowed to continue his travels, including stops in Syria, Egypt, and Libya.
Alamoudi received other funds from the Libyan government officials. Some of this money was placed in overseas accounts controlled by Alamoudi. At no time did Alamoudi file a report of a financial account in foreign countries, as required under U.S. law.
On September 28, 2003, Alamoudi arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport. In responding to a question from an officer of the United States Customs, who asked him to identify the countries on his itinerary, Alamoudi intentionally withheld information about his Libya travel. At that time, federal law enforcement officials took Alamoudi into custody, and he has remained in custody since that time. The current charges are based on a superseding indictment returned in the Eastern District of Virginia in March 2004.
Alamoudi began cooperating after his detention, and his plea agreement requires him to continue cooperating fully and truthfully in the ongoing investigation of the assassination plot and in any and all other investigations.
This case is being investigated by agents of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Departmnt of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, and the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg and Special Assistant United States Attorney Steven P. Ward, on detail from the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice, are prosecuting the
case for the United States.