WASHINGTON (AP) – A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted yesterday on charges of working for an alleged terrorist fundraising ring that sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.
Mark Deli Siljander, a Michigan Republican when he was in the House, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about being hired to lobby senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.
The 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.
The charges paint “a troubling picture of an American charity organization that engaged in transactions for the benefit of terrorists and conspired with a former United States congressman to convert stolen federal funds into payments for his advocacy,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said.
Siljander, who served in the House from 1981-1987, was appointed by President Reagan to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year in 1987. Calls to Silander’s business outside Washington went unanswered yesterday. His attorney in Kansas City, James R. Hobbs, said Siljander would plead not guilty.
“Mark Siljander vehemently denies the allegations in the indictment,” Hobbs said in a statement. He said Siljander has been praised for his “attempts to bridge the gap between Christian and Muslim communities worldwide.”