Rove, Norquist, and 9/11

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Wed Oct 22 12:59:43 PDT 2003


(From a mailing list w/ some overlap here, apologies to those for whom 
these bits are stale.)

jb

--

Begin forwarded message:

This is from a very conservative magazine, which shows
the degree to which the Bushies have alienated much of
their core base. The media has paid attention to the
Guantanamo scandals, but they are just the tip of the
iceberg of how bad this is. Rove is almost protected
in this article as he is much closer to this circle
than indicated, while Norquist is thrown from the
sled.

excerpt: 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.


Alamoudi and Those Bags of Libyan Cash
Insight Magazine
Posted Oct. 13, 2003
http://www.insightmag.com/news/525860.html

By J. Michael Waller

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.

That meeting, sources say, began a somewhat strained
relationship between the self-appointed Muslim leaders
and the Bush team. Some senior Bush advisers voiced
caution to Rove, who is said to have disregarded such
concerns, seeing instead an opportunity to bring
another ethnic and religious group into the GOP big
tent. A photo of the Austin event shows Bush with
Alamoudi standing over his left shoulder, flanked by
the former head of the Pakistani Communist Party,
several open supporters of the Hamas and Hezbollah
terrorist groups and other individuals Insight is
trying to identify.

Canceled checks obtained by Insight show Alamoudi
provided seed money to start a GOP-oriented Muslim
group called the Islamic Institute, which Norquist
originally chaired and now is led by former Alamoudi
aide and former AMC staffer Khaled Saffuri. A White
House memo obtained by Insight prepared for
coordinating Muslim and Arab-American "public-liaison"
events with the White House shows that the Islamic
Institute was instrumental in establishing the
connection. The memo, from early 2001, provides lists
of invitees and the name, date of birth and Social
Security number of each. Norquist, as the first
chairman of the Islamic Institute, tops the list.

Alamoudi and others, including Norquist, tried to keep
critics at bay by branding them as "racists" and
"bigots." Rove did not respond to requests for an
interview about this.

Norquist and Saffuri, in interviews with Insight in
the past, have acknowledged Alamoudi's early ties and
some incendiary comments at a rally in front of the
White House, but denied recent links. Concerns about
Alamoudi's alleged nefarious activities were
heightened when the British provided the first public
evidence that Alamoudi was receiving money from
foreign governments to finance his political
operations in Washington - and apparently some
terrorist operations as well.

It began on Aug. 16, when British authorities at
London's Heathrow Airport discovered Alamoudi with
$340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills as he
attempted to fly to Syria. British officials say
Alamoudi admitted he had received the money from the
Libyan government [see "British Special Branch Report:
Alamoudi Received Cash From Libyan 'Jihad Fund.'"].

As Insight goes to press Alamoudi is in an Alexandria,
Va., jail on federal charges relating to aiding and
abetting terrorism, illegally funding U.S. pressure
groups with laundered money from Libya and Saudi
Arabia, and financing terrorists in Syria and inside
the United States. Kamal Nawash, calling himself an
Alamoudi lawyer, claimed the charges are politically
motivated. He did not address the individual
allegations.

Sources say federal prosecutors are building a case
that shows how Alamoudi allegedly moved between the
clandestine world of international terrorism and the
highly visible arena of Washington politics. Sources
tell Insight that Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ward
has developed a chart detailing Alamoudi's connections
across the entire spectrum - from political pressure
groups in Washington to hard-core terrorists in
Oregon, to Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and even to
a terrorist summit held in Beirut with al-Qaeda.

"He [Alamoudi] funded terrorists, he laundered money
for terrorists, he openly advocated for terrorists," a
federal counterterrorism official tells this magazine.
"He built political front organizations for
terrorists. He gave generous amounts of money to
politicians of both parties. He worked in the Clinton
White House and the Bush White House. He acted as an
agent of influence for terrorists in the United States
to undermine the nation's security and
counterterrorism laws. Alamoudi is a big catch, and he
has led us on a trail that will certainly lead to more
arrests." Federal law-enforcement sources say they
might not have been able to bring the case to court
without the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and other legal
tools.

The evidence suggests that Alamoudi is the hub of a
hard-core, terrorist-support infrastructure. Special
Agent Brett Gentrup of the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) unit of the Department of Homeland
Security cites a transcript of a telephone call in
which Alamoudi discussed the tactics of a 1994
terrorist operation against a Jewish center in
Argentina that took 86 lives. "Even though we are very
sorry for the death of the innocent," Alamoudi said in
support of the attack, "you have to choose the target
so as not to put the Muslim in an uncomfortable
position."

The FBI submitted evidence showing that Alamoudi's
American Muslim Foundation (AMF), a charitable
offshoot of the AMC, funded two suspected terrorists
in Oregon who were arrested a year ago. Ahmed Bilal
and Patrice Lumumba Ford received payments from the
AMF's Portland, Ore., branch as they conspired to aid
the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that at the time
provided safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his
al-Qaeda organization. Bilal recently pleaded guilty
to conspiracy to aid the Taliban, and Ford faces
charges of materially aiding al-Qaeda and conspiracy
to wage war against the United States.

The Alamoudi arrest is prompting federal
law-enforcement services to take a closer look at
foreign-funded political groups connected to Alamoudi
that have been agitating against tough
counterterrorism laws. Those organizations
consistently have denied all connections to terrorism
and have denounced their critics, including writers at
this magazine, as being motivated by racism and
bigotry.

Those denunciations, federal agents say, have had a
chilling effect on counterterrorism investigations,
due to concerns that the FBI is bifurcated between
agents in the field and headquarters. Aggressive and
apparently fruitful detective work has yielded a crop
of high-quality terrorist suspects nevertheless. But
agents and Washington insiders say this has been met
with equally aggressive and fruitful political-warfare
campaigns by supporters of the alleged terrorists who
denounce "insensitivity" of federal agents to those
Islamists and Arab-Americans who fall under suspicion.

FBI agents claim that some senior bureau leaders in
Washington have bowed to political pressure to pander
to certain allegedly protected groups, especially
those that enjoy political access to the White House.
This, in turn, has discouraged some field agents from
doing their job [see "FBI Polarized by 'Wahhabi
Lobby,'" July 22-Aug. 4]. Even so, the probes of
Alamoudi and others have continued. Nawash, one of
Alamoudi's attorneys, insists to Islam Online that
Alamoudi "has no links whatsoever to violence or
terrorism," and that he "supported the U.S. war on
terrorism." Yet Nawash himself has been cautious about
appearing to be too close to Alamoudi. Just a month
before Alamoudi's arrest Nawash, a Republican
candidate for the Virginia state Senate, returned two
$5,000 campaign donations from Alamoudi and his wife,
saying it would not be in his best interests to accept
the contributions at that time. Asked about this,
Nawash campaign manager William Lockhart said Oct. 10
that the candidate is "not representing Alamoudi now."

The United States alleges that Alamoudi lied on his
U.S. Customs declaration form about where he had
traveled during his last trip abroad. According to an
affidavit in support of the federal criminal
complaint, the documentary evidence shows that
Alamoudi visited Libya from Sept. 19-25, using an
extra U.S. passport and a Yemeni passport and
"concealing the fact that he had been to Libya from
United Kingdom officials." Prosecutors also say
Alamoudi failed to report trips to Lebanon from Aug.
29-Sept. 2, Syria from Sept. 2-8, Yemen from Sept.
8-13, Syria from Sept. 15-16 and Egypt from Sept.
16-18.

During his detention with British authorities,
Alamoudi said specifically that he intended to launder
the Libyan money back into the United States through
Saudi banks, according to a summary provided by
Special Agent Gentrup: "Alamoudi told officers that he
intended eventually to deposit the money in banks
located in Saudi Arabia, from where he would feed it
back in smaller sums into accounts in the United
States." According to reports of the questioning,
Alamoudi said he believed it was against the law for
anyone to bring more than $10,000 in cash to the
United States at any single time, and used the Saudi
cutout. In reality, U.S. law sets no limits on cash
entering the country but does require the bearer to
report amounts of $10,000 or more.

"Alamoudi was adamant that this was the only such
transaction in which he was involved," according to
the criminal complaint. However, under further
questioning by the Special Branch of New Scotland
Yard, Alamoudi "conceded he had been involved in other
similar cash transactions involving amounts in the
range of $10,000 to $20,000."

Insight first reported that Alamoudi helped start the
Islamic Institute with two $10,000 checks on a U.S.
bank and that the institute had received additional
checks in the amounts of $5,000 and $10,000 on banks
in Saudi Arabia. Saffuri initially denied that the
Islamic Institute had received money via Saudi Arabia
until Insight published copies of checks to his
organization from Saudi banks [see "Correspondence,"
Oct. 15-28, 2002]. He then acknowledged that those
early U.S.-drawn checks came from Alamoudi, but said
one was a "loan."

J. Michael Waller is a senior writer for Insight magazine



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