WASHINGTON -- A Muslim activist whose influence once reached the highest levels of the US government pleaded guilty yesterday to illegally moving cash from Libya, and he admitted that he was involved in an elaborate Libyan plot to assassinate the Saudi ruler.
Abdurahman Alamoudi pocketed nearly $1 million from Libya and used it to pay conspirators in a bizarre scheme to kill Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah that included covert meetings in a London subway station and illegal transfers in Swiss bank accounts, according to documents filed in US District Court in Alexandria, Va., in association with his plea.
Alamoudi's plea marks the downfall of the onetime head of the American Muslim Council, a highly visible figure who met with top US officials to gain a greater political voice for Muslims in this country. Alamoudi's arrest was derided by friends and associates who portrayed him as a moderate activist, but federal officials say his cooperation now will be crucial to major terrorism investigations.
The court documents said Alamoudi, 52, of Falls Church, Va., acted as the primary go-between in a plot that emerged from the rivalries of Arab politics -- in this case, a March 2003 conference at which Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy and Prince Abdullah had a heated exchange. Angered at how Khadafy was treated, Libyan officials recruited Alamoudi for what turned out to be the assassination plot.
Even after he learned that the target was Abdullah, Alamoudi shuttled money and messages between Libyan officials and two leading Saudi dissidents in London who were coordinating the plot, the documents said. Although Khadafy is not named as a planner, sources familiar with the case said he appears in the documents as "Libyan government official 5," who met with Alamoudi.
Sources said the plan came close to succeeding even after Alamoudi was arrested at Dulles International Airport in September 2003, but it was broken up by Saudi intelligence officials.
Officials hailed the hearing in Alexandria, in which Alamoudi pleaded guilty to engaging in prohibited transactions with Libya, as a major step in the fight against terrorism. Alamoudi was not charged in the assassination plot.
Though Alamoudi, who faces up to 23 years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 15, did not speak yesterday, his lawyers said he remains devoted to the Muslim community and is sorry. "He has done tremendous good in a wide range of areas," said one of the attorneys, Stanley Cohen.