A criminal complaint unsealed Monday alleges Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi violated U.S. law by accepting, either personally or through the American Muslim Foundation he heads, $10,700 from the Libyan mission to the United Nations and by failing to disclose numerous trips to Libya on his passport.
Such actions are illegal under U.S. economic sanctions imposed in 1986 following terrorist bombings tied to Libya in Vienna and Rome.
Al-Amoudi, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Ethiopia, made an initial court appearance in Alexandria, Va., but neither he nor his attorney would comment on the charges. He was arrested Sunday at Dulles International Airport after a flight from London, officials said.
A federal affidavit filed to support the complaint alleges numerous links between al-Amoudi and Libyan entities. Al-Amoudi, 51, has contended that he was constantly looking for money for the Islamic advocacy group he heads and sought out Libya because it has renounced terrorism.
In August 2003, the affidavit said, customs officials in Great Britain found $340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills in al-Amoudi's luggage. Al-Amoudi, who was not charged, told the officials that he received the money from an unknown individual at a London hotel after visiting the Libyan Islamic Call Society based in Tripoli.
That happened after al-Amoudi "had a series of meetings with White House officials" about gaining access to Libyan assets frozen after the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, the affidavit said.
Al-Amoudi told officials that "he felt obliged to 'bridge the gulf' between his adopted country" and Libya, it said.
The United Nations lifted its sanctions against Libya earlier this month. The U.S. sanctions remain, however, because the government still considers Libya a sponsor of terrorism.
Al-Amoudi's home in Falls Church, Va., was among those searched in March 2002 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as part of a federal probe into financing of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Michael A. Mason, chief of the FBI's Washington field office, said authorities have developed a significant amount of information about al-Amoudi's activities and that more charges are possible.
Al-Amoudi is a founder of the American Muslim Council and the related American Muslim Foundation, currently serving as the latter group's president. Al-Amoudi also is co-founder of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council.
The latter group helps the U.S. military select Muslim chaplains for the armed forces, a system that has recently drawn criticism from Congress following the arrests of a Muslim chaplain on suspicion of spying.
Capt. Yousef Yee is being held without charge in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., amid an investigation into possible security breaches at the terrorist prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mason said he knew of no connection between al-Amoudi and Yee "at this time," but he said the investigation is continuing.
Al-Amoudi has made frequent public statements, including appearances on television news programs, about treatment of Muslims after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He also was active in politics.