U.S. Muslim leader tells of role in Libya assassination plot
U.S., Saudi Arabia say Libya's Gadhafi wanted to kill Saudi prince
From Terry Frieden
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- A prominent U.S. Muslim leader told a court that he was involved in an alleged Libyan plot to assassinate Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Abdurahman Alamoudi, 52, a naturalized citizen who lives near Washington D.C., pleaded guilty in a U.S. court on Friday to charges that included illegal financial transactions with Libya.
Libya said the Saudi and U.S. allegations of a Tripoli-backed plot to kill Abdullah were false. "We deny it completely and categorically," Abdel-Rahman Shalqam, Libya's foreign minister, told Reuters news service.
Under a plea agreement, Alamoudi admitted violating the U.S. trade and travel ban with Libya, impeding an IRS investigation and illegally obtaining U.S. citizenship.
He confirmed the accuracy of a 20-page statement that described his role in the alleged assassination plot. He was not charged in the conspiracy.
Alamoudi, president of the American Muslim Federation and founder of the American Muslim Council, appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia.
He could face up to 23 years in prison. His lawyers say he will make extensive statements when he is sentenced on October 15.
In court documents, Alamoudi admits he contacted anti-government Saudi expatriates for Libyan officials who wanted the dissidents to assassinate Abdullah.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was angry with the way the Saudi crown prince treated him, a document says.
As a revolutionary who overthrew the Libyan monarchy, Gadhafi is said to regard the Saudi monarchy with contempt. The crown prince is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
"Dr. Alamoudi's role was minimal or minor," his attorney Stanley Cohen said following the court proceeding Friday. "What you will find is that much of that conspiracy, which was real, was unbeknownst -- aspects were unbeknownst -- to Dr. Alamoudi.
"Dr. Alamoudi was involved on some level, not a major player, not the most educated player, to some degree not the most witting player," Cohen said.
Attorney Jim McLoughlin told reporters that Alamoudi, who was in custody on unrelated charges, had come forward voluntarily with the plot information, not knowing the U.S. government already was aware of the plot.
Government sources say federal prosecutors decided to accept a deal because Alamoudi agreed to fully cooperate with U.S. counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigators.
"It's an intelligence coup for the U.S.," said one government official, requesting anonymity.
"This guy was really well-connected, and he knows who all the players are," the official told CNN.
Government officials told CNN in June that while in custody, Alamoudi told investigators that he met with Gadhafi last year in June and August to discuss details of the assassination plot.
In March 2003, just before the war in Iraq began, Gadhafi and Abdullah publicly traded insults at the Arab summit.
A Libyan intelligence officer in Saudi custody -- Col. Mohamed Ismael -- recounted a similar story about such a plot, sources said.
Alamoudi was arrested and charged in an 18-count indictment in October 2003 with illegally accepting money from Libya.
Friday, Alamoudi acknowledged his involvement with hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal transactions. Alamoudi said he received the funds from the Libyan government and attempted to hide the proceeds in a Swiss bank account.
Alamoudi agreed Friday to forfeit the funds. Lawyers familiar with the case said U.S. officials had already seized $420,000 from Alamoudi's accounts out of a total of $570,000.
Alamoudi's attorneys insisted that despite early allegations of involvement with terrorist organizations, their client had no involvement with terrorist groups.
"There is no reference to Hamas, there is no reference to al Qaeda, there is no reference to Jihad," Cohen said.