Russian agent says charity tied to terrorism

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - 16:55

Eugene: A former Russian
counterterrorism agent has testified that an Islamic charity
that once had its US headquarters in the state of Oregon was
financing Islamic fighters battling the Russian Army in the
breakaway republic of Chechnya.

However, under cross-examination, Col Sergey
Ignatchenko acknowledged that the names he had of Al-Haramain
Islamic Foundation officials tied to terrorism did not include
defendant Pete Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty.

"I never knew about him, I never heard about him," he
said yesterday.

Ignatchenko, now head of communications for the
Russian Federal Security Service, testified via live video
feed from former KGB headquarters in Moscow as a prosecution
witness in the US District Court sentencing of Seda.

His remarks were interpreted by a translator in court.

Ignatchenko testified that his agency had information
that Al-Haramain financed a terrorist training camp in
Chechnya and was in contact with the leaders of Muslim
fighters but did not know the specific source of the funds.

"We didn`t know which country it came from," he said.
Judge Michael Hogan postponed sentencing, saying he
needed a couple of weeks to prepare a written response to
legal issues, particularly whether to apply the so-called
terrorism enhancement that would give Seda the maximum eight
years in prison for his convictions for tax fraud and
conspiracy.

A former Ashland, Oregon, peace activist and tree
surgeon, Seda is an Iranian-born, naturalised US citizen and a
co-founder of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in the US.

He was convicted last month of tax fraud and
conspiracy for helping another official of Al-Haramain smuggle
USD 150,000 out of the US to Saudi Arabia in 2000.
The tax fraud charge refers to efforts to cover up the
trail of the money.

Though Seda has never been charged with terrorism,
prosecutors are seeking the maximum sentence of eight years in
prison by offering evidence that Seda intended the money to
support guerrillas fighting against a country with which the
United State was at peace.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - 16:55

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