Ex-lawmaker pleads guilty to lobbying for Hamas-tied charity


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A former Michigan congressman pleaded guilty to charges connected with his support of a charity accused of funding Hamas and other terrorist groups.

Mark Siljander, 59, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a federal courthouse in Kansas City, Mo., to charges of obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

An Islamic American Relief Agency fund-raiser from Chicago allegedly hired Siljander to lobby for the removal of the agency from a U.S. Senate list of charities suspected of having terrorist ties, The Wall Street Journal reported. Siljander did not disclose this information and lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its probe.

According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Islamic American Relief Agency collected funds in boxes marked “Allah” and “Israel,” showing that the money was going toward attacks in Israel, and collected money in at least one Western European country that went straight to Hamas. The charity also has been connected to the Al-Aksa Foundation.

Siljander, a Republican, served in Congress from 1981 to 1987. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

Abdel Azim El-Siddig, the fund-raiser from Chicago, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge. 

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