Preaching terror

Frank Gaffney

10/14/2003 12:00:00 AM - Frank Gaffney
When Senator Jon Kyl opens a hearing of his Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism this morning [Tuesday], the subject will be the penetration of the U.S. military's chaplain corps and American prison systems by radical Muslims (also known as Islamists). Unfortunately, a man as responsible as anybody for the recruitment, training and certification of Muslim military chaplains - Abdurahman Alamoudi - will not be there. He is currently in jail, awaiting prosecution on charges of illegal ties to terrorist-sponsoring Libya.

Alamoudi's indictment late last month came amidst a flurry of arrests of servicepersonnel connected to the detention center for Taliban and al Qaeda operatives in Guantanamo, Cuba. Prominent among these was one of Alamoudi's chaplain selectees, U.S. Army Captain James Yee, who is being held in a military brig on suspicion of espionage and other crimes.

These incidents put into sharp relief an issue with which Senator Kyl and other legislators (notably, Senators Charles Schumer, Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, Richard Shelby and Diane Feinstein) have become increasingly concerned in recent months: Have Islamists - many of whom are backed by Saudi Arabia - successfully established beachheads in such places as the Pentagon's chaplain corps and America's prisons, mosques and colleges with a view to dominating moderate Muslims and creating a potential terrorist "Fifth Column" within the United States?

It is regrettable that Alamoudi is unavailable to be cross-examined today by Senator Kyl and his colleagues since few people are more familiar than Alamoudi with the reasons for these concerns. He has, after all, been among the most industrious and best-connected of a small number of Muslim activists in this country who have championed Islamist organizations - including some officially designated as terrorist operations - and their causes.

According to an Islamic web site, islamonline, he was also the first endorsing agent for Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military. Even today, an organization Alamoudi founded, the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, is one of only three approved by the Pentagon to certify Islamic chaplains like Captain Yee. The other two, the Islamic Society of North America and its Graduate School of Islamic Social Sciences, share a similar outlook and Saudi ties. Alamoudi was at one time "Regional Representative" for ISNA's Washington, D.C. chapter.

If Abdurahman Alamoudi were willing to cooperate and reveal all he knows, his testimony could shed invaluable light on the ways in which countries like Saudi Arabia and Libya have provided vast sums and direction to purportedly "mainstream" Muslim organizations in the United States for ominous purposes. For example, while Alamoudi's indictment focuses on his alleged prohibited travel to and expenditures in Libya, its most illuminating part may be the section detailing his admissions about activities in which he has evidently been engaged for years.

The indictment recounts that Alamoudi was detained in Britain in August 2003 when he was discovered to be leaving that country for Syria with $340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills. He told British authorities that he had been given the money by "someone with a Libyan accent." He also declared that "he is the president of the American Muslim Foundation and that financing the organization's work is a constant struggle. He further stated that, in order to alleviate the problem, he approached the Libyan Ambassador to the United Nations in 1997."

Alamoudi acknowledged having made without Washington's official permission "at least" ten trips to Libya - a crime under U.S. law - and that "he finally negotiated funding for his organization through the [World] Islamic Call Society." As the indictment goes on to point out, the World Islamic Call Society is a well-known and long-standing Libyan-controlled funding vehicle for terrorism.

Alamoudi reportedly told officers of the U.K.'s Special Branch that he "intended to deposit the [$340,000] in banks located in Saudi Arabia, from where he would feed it back in smaller amounts into accounts in the United States." During his first interview on August 16th, "he was adamant that this was the only such transaction in which he had been involved." The next day, however, Alamoudi "conceded that he has been involved in other, similar cash transactions involving amounts in the range of $10,000 to $20,000."

In other words, an individual responsible for certifying Muslim chaplains for the U.S. military, one of whom is now under arrest on suspicion of aiding America's Islamist foes, has acknowledged taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from a state-sponsor of terror and laundering it through accounts in Saudi Arabia for the purpose of supporting an Islamic organization he runs in the United States. The question occurs: Since Alamoudi is now or has been associated with over a dozen such organizations in this country, has he (or others with whom he has closely worked) used a similar modus operandi covertly to provide funding for purposes inimical to American national security?

To be sure, Abdurahman Alamoudi insists he is innocent of the charges now pending against him, which he claims to be "part of a politically motivated prosecution." And, despite myriad public statements he has made in support of officially designated terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, his lawyer, Kamal Nawash, says: [Al]Amoudi has no links whatsoever to violence or terrorism."

The problem for Alamoudi and his associates is that the available facts - including some he has provided himself - seem strongly to suggest otherwise. If so, his prosecution may prove exceedingly embarrassing, or worse, to those who enabled Alamoudi and his ilk to certify U.S. chaplains and to misrepresent themselves as "mainstream" Muslims who are "with us" in the war on terror.