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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 22:26 GMT
US politician on al-Qaeda charge
Mark Deli Siljander. Undated file pic
Mr Siljander has yet to make a comment on the charges
A former US congressman has been charged with helping to fund "a key al-Qaeda supporter" in Afghanistan.

A US grand jury indicted ex-Republican congressman from Michigan, Mark Deli Siljander, with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice.

It is alleged he lobbied for a charity that sent funds to al-Qaeda and Taleban supporter Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Mr Siljander was a congressman from 1981-1987 and served one year as a US delegate to the United Nations.

Development agency

The 42-count grand jury indictment alleges Mr Siljander lied about lobbying senators on behalf of the Missouri-based Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA).

The indictment alleges the charity sent about $130,000 (66,000) in 2003 and 2004 to accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan, that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had access to.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. File picture
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has vowed to expel international forces

It alleges the charity paid Mr Siljander $50,000 that was stolen from a US development agency.

It says Siljander "engaged in money laundering and obstruction of a federal investigation in an effort to disguise IARA's misuse of taxpayer money that the government had provided for humanitarian purposes".

US attorney for the Western District of Missouri, John Wood, said: "An organisation right here in the American heartland allegedly sent funds to Pakistan for the benefit of a specially designated global terrorist with ties to al-Qaeda and the Taleban."

The charity was closed in 2004 when the treasury department listed it as a suspected fundraiser for terrorists.

Mr Siljander, 57, now heads a public relations firm.

He has made no immediate comment on the charges.

The indictment named four other defendants, including two naturalised US citizens, a citizen of Iraq and a Jordanian citizen.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has long been a thorn in the US side in Afghanistan.

The US justice department says he has "vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops".

His Hezb-e-Islami mujahideen movement helped throw out Soviet invaders and was in conflict with the Taleban when they were in power.

After a spell in Iran he returned to Afghanistan and has vowed to remove all international forces from the country.

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