KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI // A Missouri-based Islamic charity that was shut down after being identified by the federal government as a global terrorist organisation has admitted that it illegally funnelled US$1.4 million (Dh5.14m) to Iraq in violation of US sanctions.
A representative of the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) pleaded guilty at a federal court in Missouri, to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The agency also pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstructing the administration of internal revenue laws.
At least three former IARA principals – the group’s chief, a fundraiser and a board member – have previously been sentenced in the scheme to illegally transfer money, and a former Michigan congressman went to prison for lobbying efforts for the group.
The agency took in between $1 million and $3 million in contributions annually from 1991 to 2003, federal authorities said.
The group was closed in October 2004 after being identified by the US treasury department as a specially designated global terrorist organisation. As part of the plea, IARA admitted it secretly channelled $1.375 million in cash or merchandise to Iraq in violation of US economic sanctions dating to 1990.
The original indictment alleged the charity sent about $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the US 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.
* Associated Press