SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, March 5, 2003
The United States has reported the capture of the chief fundraiser for Al Qaida, who raised millions of dollars for the organization from Muslims in New York.
U.S. officials said a Yemeni cleric and political leader has been identified as the chief financier of Al Qaida. They said Mohammed Ali Hassan Al Moayad transferred tens of millions of dollars to Osama Bin Laden for terrorist attacks, much of it from Muslim followers in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.
Al Moayad was arrested in Frankfurt, Germany on Jan. 10, Middle East Newsline reported. He was arrested along with another Yemeni national, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed.
"The FBI undercover operation developed information that Al Moayad personally handed Osama Bin Laden $20 million from his terrorist fundraising network," FBI director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Officials said Al Moayad, a 54, had organized a worldwide fundraising operation for Islamic insurgents from his post as the cleric of the central mosque in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. They said the beneficiaries of Al Moayad's fund were Al Qaida and the Palestinian Hamas movement.
The United States has requested that both Yemeni nationals be transferred into Washington's custody. The Yemeni government has also asked for its nationals.
A Justice Department statement said Al Moayad and Zayed were under FBI investigation for a year on suspicion that they supplied money, recruits, weapons and communications to Al Qaida, Hamas and other Islamic insurgency groups. The investigation concluded that Al Moayad "has substantial and direct ties to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida."
Al Moayad was said to have told an FBI informant that he supplied more than $20 million to Al Qaida prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide strikes on New York and Washington. The Justice Department said Al Moayad also said he supplied Al Qaida with communications equipment and weapons.
"Al Moayad even boasted of several meetings with Osama Bin Laden, and said he personally delivered the $20 million to Bin Laden, with much of this money coming from contributors in the United States, including Brooklyn," the Justice Department statement said. "In one meeting with the informant, Al Moayad said he had received money for the jihad [holy war] that was collected at the Al Farouq mosque in Brooklyn."
A complaint unsealed by federal authorities in Brooklyn asserted that a founder of Hamas, Mohammed Siam, attended a wedding hosted by Al Moayad in Yemen on Sept. 19, 2002. The complaint said Siam, in an address to wedding guests, praised a Hamas suicide operation that day in which five people were killed in Tel Aviv, Israel and "suggested that the organizers of the wedding must have known of the Hamas mission."