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Pre-2008 Posts

Something is Wrong With This Story: One-Time Evangelical, Republican Congressman Indicted for Ties to Al Qaeda

Something is not right about this story and this indictment.  What might Mark Siljander know about U.S. actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, such that the U.S. might want to discredit him and silence him?  I think he might know a lot of things, given his work to bring understanding between Muslims and Christians, his book about that subject due to be released imminently,  and his apparent disavowal of his one-time Christian fundamentalism.   Something is not right here.

A former Republican congressman from west Michigan was indicted today on federal charges of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in a scheme to assist a U.S.-based Islamic charity organization funnel money to Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked terrorists in Pakistan.

Mark Siljander, 56, also a former state legislator from St. Joseph County, was hired by the Islamic American Relief Agency in 2004 to assist in having the group removed from a U.S. Senate list of terrorist-linked charities, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice, then helping the group launder stolen federal funds with which to pay for his services.

Siljander is also accused of twice making false statements to federal agents investigating the case by claiming that he had not been hired to lobby and that his pay came from “charitable” donations intended to underwrite a book he was writing about bridging the gap between Islam and Christianity.

Siljander served five years in Congress beginning in 1981 when he was elected to replace David Stockman, who had been hired as President Ronald Reagan’s budget chief. He was defeated in a re-election bid in 1986 by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Kalamazoo, following a well-publicized incident in which Siljander sent an audio tape to church pastors in the district urging them to fast and pray for his re-election to “break the back of satan.” Today’s indictment describes Siljander as the owner of a company called Global Strategies Inc., based in the Washington D.C., area.

…The indictment charges IARA with sending approximately $130,000 to help Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has designated as a global terrorist. The money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.

Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar “has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan.”

…Authorities described Hekmatyar as an Afghan mujahedeen leader who has participated in and supported terrorist acts by al-Qaida and the Taliban. The Justice Department said Hekmatyar “has vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan.”

Link, Wikipedia on Mark Siljander

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Something is Wrong With This Story: One-Time Evangelical, Republican Congressman Indicted for Ties to Al Qaeda

  1. I don’t see anything wrong with this story.

    This congressman was an extremist Christianist, mounting legislation to block funding for domestic violence services because he said such groups were pro-abortion, pro-lesbian, and anti-Christ.

    Extremists switch sides with alarming frequency. What remains the same is their devotion to taking extreme positions and considering their actions absolutely moral and therefore above the law. Laws and constitutions are constructed, debated, and amended over generations; they are at times visionary but are essentially conservative in the sense that they are resistant to radical change. I doubt this congressman found Congress a congenial place for him.

    Posted by twitch | January 18, 2008, 10:12 pm
  2. I remember Siljander very well. Southwest Michigan is predominately Dutch Reformed Christians; the same church that whites in South Africa belong to. The mid 80’s in ultra conservative Southwest Michigan were a frightening time in some respects, especially if you were liberal, feminist, gay, lesbian, African American or practiced witchcraft etc. ( I personally belong to more than one of those labels in that list =o) ) Siljander had his “break the back of satan” line, and Jackie MacGregor ran against Howard Wolpe, a Jewish male, claiming that voting for Wolpe was like voting for Satan. 1986 was the year Kalamazoo’s Planned Parenthood was bombed; a year later Julie Cunningham was found on a completely unlighted running track raped and murdered.

    I find it surprising that Siljander denies being a fundamentalist Christian. He most certainly was, and I remember the flak he took for sending that tape to area church pastors. It was in the local papers and news broadcasts. He left politics after that incident. Perhaps he saw the error of his ways after that? The whole story is very strange, and I suspect that he may have information they don’t want him to spill. Very very strange, but it’s been a week for receiving strange information.

    Posted by nike2422 | January 19, 2008, 1:19 am
  3. Yeah, Siljander might know too much. I found a picture of Hekmatyar in an article from April 2006 about the influential political party he formerly (?) controlled at RAWA, with this caption:

    RAWA: Two criminal Afghan fundamentalist “leaders”, Burhanuddin Rabbani (L) and Gulbaddin Hekmatyar (R). The US government regards Hekmatyar a wanted terrorist but supports Rabbani and his men! Why? Because Rabbani is pro-US terrorist and Gulbaddin is anti-US terrorist!

    I think that speaks volumes about what USA is doing in Afghanistan.

    Posted by Aletha | January 19, 2008, 4:21 am
  4. That makes sense, Aletha and sounds about right. That’s what the U.S. does, we prop up and support the dictators/terrorists/fascists/puppets who will support our interests and vilify and demonize those who won’t. If Rabbani is our terrorist of choice, then Gulbaddin is the enemy and anybody who acts in ways which threaten the political scheme we’ve cobbled together for ourselves to protect our own interests is going to get clobbered. I believe this is what may have happened with Siljander. (And RAWA is a completely credible source.)

    Extremists switch sides with alarming frequency. What remains the same is their devotion to taking extreme positions and considering their actions absolutely moral and therefore above the law.

    Not to offend, twitch, but to me, this is conservative ideology usually designed to protect the status quo and, again, demonize or villainize as outlaws those who oppose the status quo (read: that keeps the power structure and its elites in power) and who are therefore viewed as “extremists.” What I’ve pasted there is, I believe, law and order rhetoric (“law and order” as they are understood by those who support mainstream politics and policies). I think it is U.S. policies with respect to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, which are in fact extremist, and I certainly think these policies evidence that those who have power in the United States consider their actions absolutely moral and therefore above the law!

    I mean, this week I blogged about the way the Justice Dept. will not respond to subpoenas to testify as to the protection of Halliburton-employed rapists in Afghanistan. This is the Bush Administration! Talk about considering oneself above the law! And talk about extremism. How is it anything but extreme to adopt policies which make it impossible for rapists employed by defense contractors in war-torn countries to be prosecuted under any laws, basically, anywhere in the world?

    I don’t think “extremists” “switch sides with alarming frequency.” I think what those commonly denounced and mocked as “extremists” — mostly by conservatives and mainstream people, invested in the status quo — share in common is an aversion, or opposition to totalitarian and authoritarian regimes (like our own) and to all of the many mechanisms and regulatory bodies which keep those regimes in power. Of central value to all authoritarian regimes is compliance, the obedience and law-abiding-ness of the masses. Those who do not comply and do not obey are vilified as “immoral” and “lawless” and their resistance to factual immorality and lawlessness is condemned or blown off as “extremism.” But that is the language of power and dominance. It is not what those in power would like us to think it is — the calm and cool voice of reason and moderation and morality. In fact, our own government is immoral, lawless and extreme and to resist is to take a stand for compassion and for valuing the lives of all human beings — not just those who are useful to those in power, for instance, in our own country.

    nike, I don’t think that Siljender publicly disavowed his fundamentalism. Based on my so far brief research, it looks to me as though he grew beyond it. At some point he decided to be a peacemaker, a bridge between Muslims and Christians. He started thinking a lot about reconciliation, possibly, as it is taught in Christianity’s holy books (but ignored by most American fundamentalists.) In the process of traveling in 120 countries, meeting and speaking with people, his views about God and religion and spirituality perhaps changed. Well, of course they did! When fundamentalists move out of their insulated, isolated worlds and word-worlds and begin to experience and practice the love and compassion and humanity which is actually taught in their own holy books, they do change and their views change. His book is titled something like, “A terrible misunderstanding,” or “A terrible mistake,” or something like that. I have a hunch he uncovered some information or began to unravel certain complexities and chapters of history that make him a problem to the U.S. He may well have broken the law in the course of whatever it was he was doing. If he’s been indicted, there’s been a Grand Jury investigation and he definitely broke some laws. I’m just saying, this story smells, just based on what little research I’ve done so far.

    Posted by Heart | January 19, 2008, 1:53 pm
  5. I knew I remembered having posted something about Gulbaddin here before.

    This is from one of my earlier posts about Malalai Joya and is from a speech she gave:

    Dear friends, in 2001 the US government announced that it has learned from its past mistakes of supporting the fundamentalists in Afghanistan and will not repeat them. But the agonizing truth is that the US is committing the same mistakes. It is generously supporting the fundamentalists more than ever.

    Besides supporting the bands of the Northern Alliance, underground efforts are going on to include some elements of the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the government.

    The US included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on its list of most wanted terrorists, yet his party was allowed to have 34 members in the Afghan parliament, which was elected in an
    un-democratic and fraudulent election. I have announced a number of times that the US administration has no problem working with pro-American terrorists, but oppose only anti-American terrorists. This is the reason that our people make a mockery of the “war on terror”.

    I fully agree with Kathy Gannon, an expert in Afghanistan, that “the US is not interested in peace in Afghanistan. The people who killed thousands, who patronized the drug business are in charge of the country.”

    The hypocrisy of the U.S. knows no bounds. Who knows what might really be going on here. We put the guy on our list of terrorists, then we make sure he gets installed in the Afghan parliament so he can subsequently participate in ousting Malalai Joya. Then we indict Mark Siljander for, among other things, funneling money to the guy that we made sure got in with his 34 delegates.

    See this is what I mean about the swamp that is American “foreign policy.” Who’s the lawless one?

    Here are links to my posts about Malalai Joya:
    https://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/05/27/joya-supporters-rally-in-farah-and-jalalabad/

    https://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/support-malalai-joya/

    https://womensspace.wordpress.com/2007/05/21/malalai-joya-ousted-by-afghan-parliament/

    https://womensspace.wordpress.com/2006/10/02/they-will-kill-me-but-they-will-not-kill-my-voice-keep-your-eyes-on-this-afghan-woman-warrior/

    Posted by womensspace | January 19, 2008, 3:46 pm
  6. Very interesting – I had taken this story at face value and you are really making me think.

    Posted by profacero | January 19, 2008, 8:53 pm
  7. “Those who do not comply and do not obey are vilified as “immoral” and “lawless” and their resistance to factual immorality and lawlessness is condemned or blown off as “extremism.” But that is the language of power and dominance. It is not what those in power would like us to think it is — the calm and cool voice of reason and moderation and morality”

    Well, Heart, you are probably right that mainstream people distrust those who would oppose the status quo and label others extremists in order not to deal with the content of their complaints.

    I’m somewhere left of center, but probably fairly mainstream still. So I find some of the views on either end of the spectrum “extreme”. And I find those folks’ lack of investment in social and political institutions I value unnerving. And I distrust their disregard for laws and electoral processes and judicial institutions and slower, democratic-by-majority changes. And frankly, a lot of “social change” merely adds up to another set of scoundrels of different ethnicity or background setting aside the goodies for themselves and their own. I think of school board politics in Arkansas cities where black adminstrators, school employees, and even teachers oppose reforms that would help students but reduce payrolls.

    That said, I find myself in a continual dialogue mostly with people to the left of myself. Why? Probably because I think they have their hearts and dreams in the right place and maybe some of solutions that push my own, more politically cautious boundaries.

    We all speak from our experiences, yes. I’ll never forget living in Germany in the late 70s and having one friend whose father was part of the NDP (barely re-worked Nazi nationalists) and whose sister was a Maoist and sympathizer of the Baader-Meinhof terrorists. The family thread was not so much a particular ideology but a tendency toward extreme solutions and to believe and act without reservation. I find people motivated primarily ideology rather than experience & relationships pretty scary.

    And I would agree with you about the current Republican administration. The whole Bush administration, especially Cheney et al, are lethal to the well-being of this country. They have no respect for law, for the Constitution, for the balance of powers and responsibilities of the branches of government. They probably stole the 2000 election; they pack the courts; they ignore the Senate and House of Representatives on everything from health care to Iraq policy and in so doing, shut out the people’s will. They enrich themselves and their corporations and their friends’ corporations (remember the energy bill?) and work in great secrecy. They betray US foreign policy goals (whether you agree with those goals or oppose them) by exposing CIA agents (Valerie Plame) in order to settle political scores with those who would expose the truth about the road to war (Joseph Wilson).

    Is it January, 2009 yet?

    Posted by twitch | January 21, 2008, 8:23 pm

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