Prosecutors ask to cut sentence of Muslim activist

AP News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2011 4:54 PM
Prosecutors ask to cut sentence of Muslim activist

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to cut the 23-year prison term being served by an American Muslim activist who admitted participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Abdurahman Alamoudi, 59, of Falls Church has been in jail since his arrest in September 2003. He pleaded guilty to illegal business dealings with Libya and admitted receiving more than $500,000 in cash from Libyan officials as part of an assassination plot.

According to court records, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi wanted then-Prince Abdullah killed after a 2003 Arab League summit where Gadhafi felt he had been insulted. At one point in the summit, Abdullah wagged a finger at Gadhafi and said, "Your lies precede you, while the grave is ahead of you."

The documents explaining why prosecutors want to cut Alamoudi's sentence are under seal, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria declined to say how many years they are seeking to cut from Alamoudi's term.

But such reductions are allowed only when a defendant provides substantial assistance to the government. It is rare for the government to seek a reduction so many years after the initial sentence was imposed.

It is not entirely clear whether Alamoudi's cooperation is related to the current upheaval in Libya, but it is clear that Alamoudi had extensive connections with Libyan officials in the years before his arrest. Alamoudi made at least 10 trips to Libya between 2000 and 2003, according to court records, frequently meeting with government officials there.

Alamoudi was a well-known activist in the U.S. Muslim community. He founded the American Muslim Council and visited the White House during the Clinton administration. He also participated in a group discussion with George W. Bush in 2000, during Bush's presidential campaign, in a meeting of Muslim activists in Texas.

Alamoudi's lawyer, Henry St. John Fitzgerald, did not respond a request for comment Friday.

The Saudi embassy also did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

The government's request for a reduced sentence must be approved by U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton. A hearing on the issue had been scheduled for Friday but Hilton canceled the hearing and said he will issue a written ruling based on the papers that have been submitted to him.

It is not unusual for the government to request sentence reductions of 35 to 50 percent, or even more, as a reward for substantial assistance.