Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, 53, of Ardsley, N.Y., pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to an indictment accusing him of terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and other charges. The charges carried a potential penalty of 95 years in prison.
Alishtari, also known as Michael Mixon, was detained pending a court appearance next week after Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Kolodner said Alishtari was a danger to the community and a risk to flee. He was arrested on Thursday in Manhattan, prosecutors said.
Alishtari's court-appointed lawyer, Richard Greenfield, said he was not familiar enough with the case to present a bail package. Outside court, Greenfield declined to comment.
The indictment said Alishtari tried to support terrorists between June and December by accepting an unspecified amount of money to transfer $152,000 that he believed was being sent to Pakistan and Afghanistan to support an Afghanistan terrorist training camp.
He believed the money would be used to fund the purchase of night vision goggles and other equipment, the indictment said.
He was also charged with money laundering for allegedly causing the transfer on Aug. 17 of about $25,000 from a bank account in New York to a bank account in Montreal, Canada. The money was to be used to provide material support to terrorist, prosecutors said.
The indictment also charged him with wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud. It said he devised a scheme to administer and promote a fraudulent loan investment program known as "Flat Eletronic Data Interchange" through which Alishtari and others fraudulently obtained millions of dollars from investors by promising high guaranteed rates of return.
CBS News has confirmed that Alishtari is a donor to the Republican Party, as he claims on his curriculum vitae. Alishtari gave $15,500 to the National Republican Campaign Committee between 2002 and 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. That amount includes $13,000 in 2003, a year when he claims to have been named NRCC New York State Businessman of the Year.
Alishtari also claims to be a lifetime member of the National Republican Senate Committee's Inner Circle, which the NRCC describes as "an impressive cross-section of American society – community leaders, business executives, entrepreneurs, retirees, and sports and entertainment celebrities – all of whom hold a deep interest in our nation's prosperity and security."