A former Michigan congressman was indicted by a federal grand jury for channeling money to terrorists.
Mark Siljander, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1987, faces charges of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Siljander is accused of lying about lobbying for the Islamic American Relief Agency, which allegedly funded an Afghan mujahedeen leader who carried out attacks for al-Qaida and the Taliban. He is also accused of accepting $50,000, stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development, to lobby senators to allow the charity to again receive government work.
The charges are part of a case that started in 2004 against the now-defunct Islamic American Relief Agency, which was identified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a terrorist group.
Siljander was elected to Congress with the support of fundamentalist Christian groups, the Chicago Tribune reported. After taking office, he said he had been elected “because God wanted me in,” according to the Tribune, and in 1983 he claimed that “Arab terrorists” planned to kill him at a pro-Jewish rally, a claim the FBI and Secret Service said was unfounded. He later was appointed a public delegate to the United Nations by President Reagan.
Siljander’s attorney, James Hobbs, said in a statement Wednesday that his client “denies the allegations in the indictment and will enter a not guilty plea.”