Skip to comments.Georgia - Some McKinney donors probed for terror ties
Posted on 08/03/2002 12:10:21 AM PDT by HAL9000
Some McKinney donors probed for terror ties
DeKalb Democrat said unaware any donors might support terror
Rep. Cynthia McKinney's re-election campaign has accepted contributions from several people who have come under federal investigation for suspected links to Middle Eastern terrorists or have voiced support for extremist groups.
The outspoken DeKalb County Democrat, a frequent critic of U.S. Middle East policy, has long drawn Arab and Muslim financial support. Most of McKinney's individual donors listed on disclosure reports in 2001 and this year have Arabic names and live out of state.
According to a review of federal campaign disclosure records, they include:
* Abdurahman Alamoudi, leader of a Muslim organization, who during a 2000 rally outside the White House expressed support for the violent Palestinian group Hamas and for Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite party linked to bombings. The controversy surrounding his comments caused Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and George W. Bush's presidential campaign to return his contributions.
* A professor who was jailed in 1998 on contempt charges for refusing to answer a grand jury's questions about alleged money-laundering links to Hamas.
* Five businessmen whose homes or businesses were searched in March during an FBI raid investigating financial links to terrorism. Another was an officer in one of the groups under investigation, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Bill Banks, manager of McKinney's re-election campaign, said this week that the congresswoman was not aware that any of her donors might support terrorist activities, or have ties to organizations involved with terrorism.
The McKinney campaign reported most of those contributions as having come Sept. 11, the date of the terror attacks in New York and Washington. But Banks said the campaign had organized a fund-raiser a few days before Sept. 11 and the donations collected were coincidentally recorded on that date.
FEC spokeswoman Kelly Huff said the date listed on disclosure reports is supposed to be, by law, the date the campaign received the money. But FEC officials said it was up to the campaign to document the proper date.
McKinney campaign coordinator Wendell Muhamad downplayed the FBI investigations of the donors, saying the agency historically has hounded minorities and is now targeting Muslims and people with Arab names.
"They're doing stuff like they did in the '60s to Dr. [Martin Luther] King," said Muhamad. "These are American citizens learning to use their money like the very small population which sways a lot of opinion with their money -- the Jewish community. That's the American way."
Banks said the campaign accepted contributors' money believing "in good faith that they are law-abiding citizens. If you did an investigation of everyone who gave money, people would stop giving."
McKinney is locked in what a poll released this week shows to be a virtual dead heat against former DeKalb County State Court Judge Denise Majette in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary. Majette declined to comment Friday on McKinney's fund-raising.
McKinney caused a tempest earlier this year by suggesting President Bush knew the Sept. 11 attacks were coming but did nothing so his associates could make money in the ensuing war. And last October, she also caused controversy for apologizing to a Saudi prince whose $10 million donation for terror victims was rejected by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The prince had laid part of the blame for the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. policy. The following week, McKinney collected $32,150 in a fund-raiser, her best fund-raising day in 2001.
McKinney's support for Arab causes is well known. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Islamic advocacy group whose director was named on the Sept. 11 listing as giving McKinney $500, recently asked members to support her. "She is our strategic choice. Pro-Muslim candidate. Supporter of Palestinian state for over seven years. Against secret evidence. Against aid to Israel."
Steven Emerson, who runs a private counterterrorist institute in Washington, called McKinney's contributors "the A list of militant Islamic front groups." Two years ago, Emerson warned a Senate committee about increasing terrorist activity in America, sometimes in the name of charity.
Alamoudi, the president of the American Muslim Foundation who expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah, gave the maximum allowable contribution of $2,000.
Clinton, then a Democratic Senate candidate in New York, returned the $1,000 Alamoudi gave her after her opponent called the donation "blood money." Her spokesman, explaining the decision to return the money, said, "Hillary is a strong supporter of peace and security for Israel." Reps. James Moran (D-Va.) and David Bonior (D-Mich.), Republican Senate candidate John Sununu of New Hampshire and the Bush presidential campaign all have returned Alamoudi's contributions since last fall.
Alamoudi did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Another donor, Abdelhaleem Ashqar, now a Howard University professor, who gave $250, was jailed for six months in 1998 after refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating money laundering in the United States by Hamas. Ashqar told the grand jury that he would not testify because the information would be "used against my friends, family and colleagues in the Palestinian liberation movement." He was never charged with a crime and did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Six of McKinney's donors were officers with companies and organizations that are under investigation.
On March 20 and 21, Treasury agents served warrants on the Herndon Va.-based Saar Foundation, Safa Trust, the International Institute of Islamic Thought and 13 other locations. The groups are part of a Saudi-based financial empire that U.S. investigators say has handled $1.7 billion since the mid-1990s, allegedly sending some of it to groups that authorities have linked to terrorists, The Washington Post reported. No charges have been filed in that investigation.
Listed as McKinney donors on Sept. 11 are M. Yaqub Mirza, Mohamed Omeish and Ahmad Totonji.
Federal agents in March searched the offices of Mirza, who contributed $500. The former president of Saar, Mirza was the central figure in the interlocking multinational corporations being investigated. He is the president of Mar-Jac, which includes investment firms and a North Georgia poultry plant, which also was searched in March. He did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Omeish is president of Success Foundation, a refugee relief organization whose office was searched in March. He is listed as having given $500. Omeish said investigators returned computers taken from his office.
Totonji, founder of Saar and the IIIT, gave $1,000. Federal agents carted away numerous computers from his offices in the March raid.
Two weeks later, on Sept. 26, Jamal Barzinji, Taha Alalwani of Herndon, Va., and Hisham Al Talib of California all gave $500 to McKinney's campaign, according to FEC records.
Barzinji, a business associate of Mirza's, is also president of Mar-Jac Poultry in Gainesville.
Alalwani is a founder of the IIIT and Al Talib, was the treasurer for Safa and the IIIT vice president.
The understanding that I had was that the residents themselves went to their state rep to have him make sure the lines were redrawn to exclude them from Commie Cynthia's district.
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