Former Rep. Mark Siljander (R-MI) will be in court today for a plea hearing on charges of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged ties to an international terrorism ring. The trial is set to begin next Monday.
Siljander was indicted in January 2008 by a federal grand jury for allegedly receiving money from the now-defunct Islamic American Relief Agency, a group that the Treasury Department, in 2004, put on a list of charities that fund suspected terrorists.
Siljander, who became a lobbyist after leaving Congress, is accused of taking $75,000 from the group to help it get its name removed from that government list. According to the indictment, the money was stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Siljander is also accused of lying to federal investigators about his alleged ties to the group, after he claimed that the funds were “donations” for his book, “A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide.”
Mubarek Hamed, executive director of the IARA from 1991 to 2004, who was also named in the indictment, pleaded guilty on June 25 to charges of conspiracy and lying to the IRS. He also admitted to “funneling more than $1 million to Iraq in violation of U.S. sanctions, which began in 1990 and ended in 2003.”
Siljander served in Congress from 1981 to 1987, and said at the time of his election that he won because “God wanted me in,” and because he wore a “Jesus First” button.
The former congressman also gained some notoriety for his attempt in 1985 to block a $581,000 grant to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence “because he considered the group to be run by ‘pro-abortion, pro-lesbian, anti-Reagan radical feminists.’”