Libyan Embassy In Ottawa, Canada, Accused In Money Plot|
Libyan embassy accused in money plot
U.S. says Ottawa mission issued visas to aid 'jihad fund'?
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
The Libyan embassy in Ottawa has been implicated in a plot to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars from Tripoli to American Islamic groups in violation of sanctions on the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
A criminal complaint unsealed yesterday claims the Ottawa embassy issued visas to Abdurahman Alamoudi, an Ethiopian-born American affiliated with several Muslim organizations being investigated for terror financing.
The visas allowed Mr. Alamoudi to travel to Libya without obtaining the necessary approval from the U.S. government. During the trips, he allegedly secured large donations from Libya's "jihad fund."
Mr. Alamoudi was caught in London last month trying to board a plane to Damascus carrying US$340,000 in cash, which he obtained from the Libyans in a clandestine drop, U.S. authorities allege.
Canada established full diplomatic ties with Libya in 2001, despite continuing concerns about Tripoli's sponsorship of terrorism. Canada now operates an embassy in Tripoli and Libya has a mission in Ottawa.
The revelation comes as Col. Gaddafi is trying to reinvent himself as a man of peace following years of sanctions imposed after Libyan agents bombed a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270.
Mr. Alamoudi, who is affiliated with several Muslim groups being probed as part of a massive U.S. terror financing investigation in Virginia, was charged with receiving thousands of dollars from the Libyans since 1999.
Special Agent Brett Gentrup of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch, who has been investigating the terror financing allegations, said in an affidavit that Mr. Alamoudi had admitted he approached the Libyans for money in 1997.
He met with the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, who told Mr. Alamoudi that if he could convince the Americans to release any Libyan assets frozen by the Americans, he would get a share.
Mr. Alamoudi approached the White House, but was informed all Libyan assets were frozen due to the Lockerbie bombing. Libya's UN ambassador, Abuzed Dorda, then directed him to the Libyan Islamic Call Society.
Using visas obtained from Ottawa, he travelled repeatedly to Libya to "negotiate" with the society, established by Col. Gaddafi "as a tool for exporting revolution abroad."
The Society's Jihad Fund is also used to help Palestinians fight Israel. Mr. Alamoudi soon began receiving cheques and wire transfers from the society.
In August, he was told to fly to London to get a "sizeable cash donation" from the Islamic Call Society.
On the morning of Aug. 13, he got a telephone call from an unknown man who spoke Arabic with a Libyan accent. The mystery caller said he had "something" for Mr. Alamoudi.
The man went to the London Metropole Hotel, where Mr. Alamoudi was staying, and handed him a Samsonite suitcase.
Inside were 34 bundles of US$100 bills -- US$340,000 in total.
Knowing it was illegal to obtain cash in such a transaction, he tried to take the money to the Middle East, where he said he intended to deposit it in a Saudi bank and feed it back to his accounts in the United States.
The money was seized at Heathrow Airport, but he continued on to the Middle East, ending up eventually in Libya. He was arrested on Sunday as he returned to Washington's Dulles Airport.
He has admitted "he had been involved in other similar cash transactions involving amounts in the range of US$10,000 to US$20,000," the affidavit said.
Libya replaced Ambassador Dorda on Sept. 17.
Special Agent Gentrup said American citizens require special authorization from the U.S. State Department before they can travel to Libya.
Mr. Alamoudi did not receive such permission.
Instead, he skirted the requirement by getting his visas from the Libyan embassy in Canada, Special Agent Gentrup said.
Mr. Alamoudi is founder of the American Muslim Council, and has been active in the SAAR Foundation and International Islamic Relief Organization, which both have Canadian branch offices.
In a speech videotaped by Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Institute terrorism research centre in Washington, D.C., Mr. Alamoudi said he supported Middle East terrorist groups.
"We are all supporters of Hamas! God is great. I wish to add here I am also a supporter of Hezbollah."
The United Nations formally lifted sanctions against Libya on Sept. 12, after Col. Gaddafi agreed to pay US$5-million per victim in compensation to the relatives of those it murdered in the bombing.
The United States and France abstained from the vote.
The families will get another US$5-million if the United States removes Libya from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.