Crime

Former Columbia-based ‘charity’ linked to terrorism sentenced in federal court

The Islamic American Relief Agency was ordered to transfer more than $800,000 in assets to a charity that assists farmers and drought victims in east Africa.
The Islamic American Relief Agency was ordered to transfer more than $800,000 in assets to a charity that assists farmers and drought victims in east Africa.

A former Columbia-based agency once designated by the U.S. government as a global terrorist organization was sentenced Thursday in federal court.

The Islamic American Relief Agency was ordered to transfer more than $800,000 in assets to a charity that assists farmers and drought victims in east Africa.

The agency was prosecuted for transferring nearly $1.4 million to Iraq in violation of U.S. government sanctions.

The office in Columbia was part of an international organization based in Sudan.

It was closed in 2004 after being identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a “specially designated global terrorist organization.”

The agency was reconstituted so it could be prosecuted criminally.

Last July, an IARA representative pleaded guilty on its behalf to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstructing U.S. internal revenue laws.

With Thursday’s sentencing, IARA has dissolved itself as a corporation, and its board of directors agreed to not form a new corporation to conduct the activities that IARA formerly conducted, according to federal prosecutors.

Several individuals associated with IARA also have been prosecuted, including a former U.S. congressman from Michigan.

Rep. Mark Siljander was hired by IARA to act as an unregistered agent. He directed the agency to conceal payments to him by routing them through nonprofit organizations, and he also later lied to FBI agents and prosecutors.

He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent and was sentenced to a year in prison.

An IARA fundraiser who lived in Columbia bought a satellite telephone and provided it to representatives of al-Qaida. That phone was used to orchestrate the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 200 people.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc

  Comments