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Former Missouri Charity Indicted for Funding Terrorists

John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri at the press conference
Laura Spencer, KCUR
John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri at the press conference

By Laura Spencer

Kansas City, MO – A federal grand jury in Kansas City Wednesday charged members of a former Missouri-based Islamic charity and a former U.S. Congressman with money laundering and financing al-Qaeda terrorists. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

The 42 count indictment alleges that the Islamic American Relief Agency or IARA and its officers sent money to an Afghan mujahedeen leader named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The Justice Department says Hekmatyar in turn backed terrorist acts by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The organization's former executive director, Mubarak Hamed faces charges of sending $130,000 to Pakistan for an orphanage housed in buildings controlled and owned by Hekmatyar.

John Wood, United States Attorney for Western Missouri, says, "By bringing this case here in the heartland in America, we're making it more difficult for terrorists to do business halfway across the globe."

The indictment also accuses former US Congressman Mark Siljander, a Michigan Republican, of lying about being hired by IARA to lobby on its behalf and helping to launder funds the IARA allegedly stole from the US Agency for International Development.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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