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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Who is Abdurahman Alamoudi?

Alleged senior terrorist operative arrested Sept. 29 at Dulles Airport
Federal agents may have ripped the lid off an international terrorist-support network in Washington that operated to finance terrorists inside the United States and abroad, while penetrating the U.S. political system to weaken federal antiterrorism laws. The Sept. 29 arrest of an alleged senior terrorist operative living in Falls Church, Va., has burst open a case that Insight has been following since 2001: an alleged international ring of terrorists, their financiers, propaganda networks and support structures that may have infiltrated the federal government and embedded themselves into both political parties in Washington.

The recent scandals at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in which a Muslim chaplain and several Arabic interpreters are suspected of committing espionage for al-Qaeda or a foreign state sponsor of terrorism, have raised public awareness of the terrorist infiltration of U.S. government institutions and may be tied to the Virginia arrest.

Investigators are probing the Muslim military-chaplains program at the Pentagon that vetted alleged terrorist spy Capt. James "Yousef" Yee to see if parts of the program were created to infiltrate the U.S. Armed Forces for terrorist purposes. The founder of that program, Abdurahman Alamoudi, 51, was arrested at Dulles International Airport near Washington on Sept. 29 as he returned via London from an alleged covert trip to Syria and Libya, both notorious as state sponsors of terrorism and bases for supposedly independent terrorist gangs. The arrest apparently was precipitated by an investigation unrelated to the chaplain issue and focused on terrorist finances. Alamoudi faces a list of federal charges related to laundering Libyan money, financing political operations in the United States with illegal foreign contributions, passport fraud and the funding of terrorist organizations and individuals from Syria to Oregon.

The chaplain and Alamoudi cases may have repercussions on a cross-section of politicians ranging from former first lady and current U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to senior figures in the Republican Party. Critics have alleged that the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations have pandered to some of the most militant Muslim political groups in a bid to win votes from a still-unclaimed voting bloc, throwing aside security and counterintelligence concerns and rejecting warnings from the Secret Service and CIA.

Journalist Mary Jacoby, who reports on domestic Islamist networks for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, tells Insight that Alamoudi spearheaded efforts to install radical Muslim chaplains inside the U.S. Armed Forces and the prison system. In 1993, through his American Muslim Council (AMC), he spun off the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, one of three Islamic organizations to certify chaplains for the military. That same year, according to a pro-Alamoudi briefing published by aljazeerah.info, "AMC supported the launching of ... the National Islamic Prison Foundation." The purpose, counterterrorism experts say, was to take over Islamic chaplain programs and install more militant Muslims to indoctrinate inmates inside the U.S. prison system and network them after their release back into society. Sources close to the federal investigations tell Insight that more arrests are expected.

The probe could prove damaging to key allies of President George W. Bush. Federal investigators tell Insight that one of the names that keeps coming up in the activities they are looking at is that of Grover Norquist, the influential GOP "big-tent" organizer and chairman of Americans for Tax Reform, a respected conservative umbrella group. Norquist was Alamoudi's most influential Washington facilitator, authorities believe, noting that Norquist reminds friend and foe alike that he is close to the president's powerful political strategist, Karl Rove.

Norquist, who previously has denied any suggestion that his work facilitated any wrongdoing, not only introduced Alamoudi to Washington GOP power circles but also Sammy Al Arian, whom prosecutors arrested earlier this year for alleged terrorist activities. Federal law-enforcement sources say they are focusing on some of Norquist's associates and financial ties to terrorist groups.

Alamoudi ran, directed, founded or funded at least 15 Muslim political-action and charitable groups that have taken over the public voice of Islamic Americans [see sidebar, p. 34]. Through a mix of civil-rights complaints, Old Left-style political coalitions and sheer persistence, Alamoudi helped inch the image of U.S.-based Islamists toward the political mainstream and induced politicians to embrace his organizations. He sought to secure the support first of the Clinton administration in seeking to repeal certain antiterrorist laws, but when Bill Clinton failed to deliver, Alamoudi defected to Bush, then governor of Texas. Alamoudi and other Muslim leaders met with Bush in Austin in July 2002, offering to support his bid for the White House in exchange for Bush's commitment to repeal certain antiterrorist laws.
Continue reading at Insight Magazine.