A former US congressman has pleaded guilty in connection with a terrorist financing conspiracy that sent money to Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US Justice Department said Wednesday.
Mark Deli Siljander, who represented Michigan in the House of Representatives from 1981-87 and was a delegate to the UN under president Ronald Reagan, pleaded guilty to acting as an agent for an Islamic charity with ties to international terrorism, according to Beth Phillips, US Attorney for the western district of Missouri.
Siljander was the last of five co-defendants in the case that involved the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) of Columbia, Missouri. IARA was shut down by the US government in 2004 for connections to terrorism.
The Justice Department had charged that IARA, whose headquarters were in Sudan, also funneled money to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the militant Afghan leader and former prime minister of Afghanistan who leads the country’s second-largest insurgent group.
Siljander, 59, was hired by the IARA to lobby for the group’s removal from a Senate list of charities suspected of having terrorist ties, justice officials said. He also failed to register as a foreign agent.
He told investigators he had received tens of thousands of dollars from IARA to write a book about bridging the gap between Islam and Christianity.
……The other defendants were Abdel Azim El-Siddig, a former IARA fundraiser; Mubarak Hamed, 53, a Sudan native and US citizen who raised $1-3 million a year for IARA and illegally transferred some funds to Iraq; Ali Mohamed Bagegni, 56, a Libyan native and US citizen; and Ahmad Mustafa, 57, an Iraqi citizen and legal permanent US resident alien.
His personal history is chock full of conservative values, patriotism, America-first foreign and domestic policies, and apparently, a dark, treacherous side.
No one was more shocked than Debbie Schussel:
……But here’s why I’m so shocked. When I worked for Mark Siljander, in the summer after my junior year of high school, and again when I was headed to college, I was just 16, but more than an intern. I wrote speeches for him, I helped tutor him in Hebrew, which he learned to speak and write, and I accompanied him to many events.
What makes the allegations in the indictment so shocking, is that Siljander is a Born-Again Evangelical Christian. We had fast days in his office. There were prayer circles. So deeply religious and so deeply against the Islamic threat, Siljander was known, at the time, as the most pro-Israel Congressman on Capitol Hill, with many Jewish and pro-Israel Evangelical contributors from all over the world. My father was one of those contributors. His Chief of Staff, Robin Luketina, even served in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Mark enlisted me to help him write a tough bill espousing sanctions against the Soviet Union because of its persecution of Soviet Jews. And he enlisted my help in pro-Israel and anti-PLO legislation.
That’s why it’s so hard for me to read that he may have played for the opposite team–for the enemy.
…… I think this was about money. Since he lost his Congressional seat, he was hard up for money and was involved in many failed business ventures, including an AIDS-Test-By-Mail. (He also ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress from Virginia.)
Desperation and money do bad things.
Ms. Schlussel elaborates on the motive:
……But as I wrote two years ago, apparently for money, Siljander changed his tune, shilling for the Omar Al-Bashir, the despotic mass-murdering Muslim leader of Sudan, claiming Al-Bashir is misunderstood. Al-Bashir, as Siljander well knows, wiped out Black Christians in Sudan, gang-raping and torturing them, mass-murdering then, and forcibly converting the rest to Islam. Now, he’s killing the Black Muslims. But Siljander now says he’s a nice guy. My late father was a contributor to Siljander’s campaigns for office because Black Christians in Sudan was an important issue to my father (who had many files on the issue and constantly wrote letters and made calls to try to help them) and to Siljander. I’m sure my father is turning over in his grave, now.
Siljander also shilled for Islam, making absurd outreach speeches to Muslim groups and trying to impress upon evangelical Christians that Islam isn’t bad. He wrote a ridiculous book, “A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide,” making the same arguments. But, again, Siljander knew better.
Mutherfucker should be taken out and shot. I don’t give a shit how deep he was in financial straights, he sold out his country. We are at war with the enemy for whom he helped raise money, and for that he should be executed.
Given our current Dhimmi occupant in the White House and Eric Holder’s propensity to overlook real terrorist threats, I’m surprised this prosecution was allowed to go forward.
I can hardly wait to see the outcome. My guess is he’ll get off easy.