Posts Tagged ‘Pete Seda’

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Islamic charity pleads guilty to tax fraud

August 17, 2014

Al Haramain, a Saudi-based international charity which once maintained its U.S. branch in Oregon, has pleaded guilty to tax fraud 14 years after filing a false return designed to conceal a $150,000 check issued to Chechen jihadists.

The Associated Press reported on July 29:

…On Tuesday, the charity pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Eugene to one count of filing a false tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. The group was placed on probation for three years, and it agreed during that time not to resume operating as a tax-exempt charity in the U.S., prosecutors said.

The charity failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service that a $150,000 donation in 2000 went overseas to Saudi Arabia and was meant to be sent to Chechnya, prosecutors said. The charity falsely reported on its tax return that the money was used partly to buy a building in the U.S.

The foundation was disbanded after the U.S. government declared it was a terrorist organization and froze its assets…

Far from being a lawless series of raids in the early- to mid-2000s against innocent Islamic charities that CAIR and the ACLU have depicted, the successful convictions against the Holy Land Foundation and guilty pleas such a this illustrate that the Bush-era crackdowns on front charities was legitimate.

As part of the plea deal, Al Haramain’s former U.S. director, Pete Seda, who was previously convicted for his involvement in the case, is getting charges dropped against him.

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Liberal judges toss Chechen financier’s conviction

September 8, 2013

Just four months after the Boston marathon bombing, two federal judges on a three-judge panel have overturned the conviction of the Oregon-based Islamic “charity leader” and terrorist fundraiser Pete Seda, who helped facilitate the transfer of $130,000 to Chechen terrorists in the early 2000s.

Activists like Seda have served as key conduits for funneling zakat donations from Western countries through Islamic front charities to jihadist causes around the world.  The revenues supported the creation of websites and recruitment tools that helped radicalize North Caucasus diaspora like Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Seda’s conviction was overturned by Judge Mary Schroeder, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, and Judge Margaret McKeown, who was appointed by Bill Clinton and considered for a Supreme Court appointment by Barack Obama, on the grounds of alleged unfairness during the Seda investigation and trial.

The two judges claim that the Seda trial began as a white collar crime case but ended as a terrorism case, that some information about a witness named Barbara Cabral was not shared with defense attorneys, and that the scope of a warrant served against Seda before the trial was exceeded by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Judge Robert Tallman, a Republican who was appointed by Bill Clinton, delivered a vigorous dissent from the liberal judges’ opinion.  Oregon’s Daily Tidings summarizes Judge Tallman’s reasoning:

…In his dissenting opinion, Judge Richard Tallman wrote that the majority judges in the appeal improperly failed to take into consideration that [trial court judge] Hogan held a separate hearing on the Cabral issues before ruling the evidence would not have changed the jury’s verdict.

Tallman wrote that the appellate judges should not reverse Hogan’s ruling without it being “clearly erroneous,” which was not the case.

Moreover, Tallman’s minority opinion argued that the scope of the search warrant was not breached by agents searching Seda’s computers and that the other issues do not rise to the level necessary for overturning the jury’s guilty verdict.

Tallman also took issue with the majority opinion’s apparent dismissing of the key evidence in the actual tax fraud and conspiracy charges that were at the core of the case against Seda.

Seda and his codefendant, a Saudi national named Soliman Al-Buthe, went to great lengths and expenses to convert funds wired to Al-Haramain into $130,000 worth of hard-to-trace $1,000 cashier’s checks that Al-Buthe then carried from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000, according to Tallman’s opinion.

Al-Buthe, also known as Al-Buthi, did so in violation of federal financial-reporting rules that he had complied with on nine other occasions, Tallman noted.

Also, Al-Buthe carried with him and failed to report that he was carrying a cashier’s check made out to him at an Ashland bank for $21,000, which Al-Buthe deposited in his personal bank account in Saudi Arabia.

“A reasonable jury could have concluded on this evidence that this was Al-Buthe’s ‘cut’ for serving as the courier,” Tallman wrote.

The jury also heard plenty of evidence on what Tallman calls the “deceitful manner” in which Seda hid the smuggled money by falsely declaring on a tax return that the money went toward the purchase of a prayer house in Missouri.

Had the men’s intent been not to smuggle the money to the Middle East, Seda simply could have wired the money directly to Al-Haramain’s main office in Saudi Arabia for about $15, Tallman wrote.

“The jury obviously thought the entire handling of the money reeked of criminal intent, as evidenced by its verdict,” Tallman wrote.

Hat tip to Rushette for alerting us to the appeals court decision.

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Another conviction against Islamic charity leader

September 22, 2010

The zakat defenders are still out there claiming that there have been “no convictions” of Islamic charities.  They ignore the Holy Land Foundation convictions, the racketeering conviction against the CEO of Benevolence International Foundation, the successful deportation hearing against the founder of Global Relief Foundation, and convictions of Islamic American Relief Agency leaders.

Earlier this month the leader of the Oregon branch of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, one of the handful of charities designated by the U.S. Treasury Department, was convicted on charges related to smuggling cash out of the country to jihadists overseas.  “Peace activist” Pete Seda now joins the ranks of the other Islamic charity leaders living behind bars.

From the Register-Guard on Sept. 10:

An Oregon federal jury convicted an Ashland Islamic charity leader Thursday of conspiring with a Saudi associate to smuggle $130,000 out of the United States with the intent of funneling it to Muslim fighters battling Russian troops in Chechnya.

The panel also convicted Pete Seda of filing a falsified tax return for his Al-Haramain USA charity to hide that offense. The jurors deliberated for 1½ days before delivering their 6 p.m. decision.

Seda’s face grew grim, but he otherwise was stoic as a court bailiff read the verdict. There was quiet weeping among more than a dozen of Seda’s family members and other supporters in the Eugene courtroom.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan set a Nov. 23 sentencing date for the Iranian born, 16-year U.S. citizen. But he ordered Seda taken into immediate custody after prosecutor Charles Gorder, Jr. argued that he might flee the country, as he did in 2003 after learning he was under investigation.

Defense attorney Steve Wax had urged that Seda remain out on bail, noting that his client had voluntarily returned face his charges in 2007.

Seda was indicted in February 2005, along with co-founder Soliman Al-Buthe and Al-Haramain USA. Al-Buthe lives in Saudi Arabia, which has no extradition agreement with the United States.

Though the charity was branded a global terror organization by U.S. officials, charges against it were dismissed when it became defunct after Seda’s 2003 departure. Other former U.S. associates of the group are suing the government for wiretapping their phone conversations without a warrant. A federal appeals judge ruled this spring that those wiretaps broke the law.

Oregon U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton praised the verdict Thursday night.

“Money is the lifeblood of terrorism in these shady, violent, religious extremist groups,” he said. “If we can stop the flow of money, we can significantly reduce the threat here at home and abroad.”

He said the jury found that Seda lied to U.S. customs and IRS officials to duck reporting requirements “vital to our effort to make sure that money does not land in the hands of terrorists or other violent extremists.”

Read the rest of the story here.