Ex-congressman being sentenced in terror fund case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Michigan congressman accused of accepting stolen funds on behalf of a Missouri charity with alleged terrorism ties was among five men being sentenced Wednesday in the case.

Mubarak Hamed, 54, the former executive director of the Columbia-based Islamic American Relief Agency, was the first of former Rep. Mark Deli Siljander‘s four co-defendants to appear in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

Hamed, who prosecutors said conspired to hire Siljander to lobby for the charity‘s removal from a government list of charities suspected of funding international terrorism, was sentenced to nearly five years in prison. U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey told Hamed his crime was very serious regardless of his intentions.

The Islamic American Relief Agency was closed in October 2004 after being designated a global terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Hamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Sudan, pleaded guilty in June 2010 to illegally conspiring to transfer more than $1 million to Iraq and obstructing the administration of laws governing tax-exempt charities.

Siljander, who served in Congress from 1981 until 1987 and as a United Nations delegate for a year, was set to appear in court later Wednesday. He pleaded guilty in July 2010 to obstruction and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

Prosecutors said Siljander received $75,000 from the charity to push for its removal from the list, and that $50,000 of it was part of unused grant money that was supposed to have been returned to the U.S. Agency for International Development after it terminated its grants for two relief projects in Mali, Africa, with the charity in 1999.

Of the $2 million the charity received, $85,000 was supposed to have been returned to the agency and wasn’t, Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Missouri, has said.

The indictment said Siljander and three charity officers agreed to cover up the money’s origins and use it on the lobbying effort. Money was funneled to Siljander through nonprofits, prosecutors said.

The original indictment alleged the charity sent about $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Prosecutors said Siljander, who now lives in Great Falls, Va., lied to the FBI about being hired to lobby for the charity. He told investigators that the money he received was a donation to help him write a book about Islam and Christianity.

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