By Lara Jakes Jordan
The Associated Press
Wednesday 16 January 2008
Washington - A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.
The former Republican congressman from Michigan, Mark Deli Siljander, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.
A 42-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying - money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Siljander, who served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, was appointed by President Reagan to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year in 1987.
He could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
The charges are part of a long-running case against the charity, which was formerly based in Columbia, Mo., and was designated by the Treasury Department in 2004 as a suspected fundraiser for terrorists.
In the indictment, the government alleges that IARA employed a man who had served as a fundraising aide to Osama bin Laden.
The indictment charges IARA with sending approximately $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.