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al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat

109th Congress
2d Session
Union Calendar No. 355
Report 109-615

al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamist Extremist Threat








Sunni extremist organizations that have expressed an interest in attacking the United States have maintained a presence here for years. These groups use America's openness to establish roots in our communities and focus on training, recruiting and fundraising, rather then carrying out terrorist attacks. For these groups, the value of fundraising and recruiting far outweighs the benefit of an attack.

Since September 11, 2001, Federal authorities have raided and shut down at least twenty-five charities contributing to terrorist activities, including some that served as front companies for al-Qaeda.72 For example, on October 13, 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA), also known as the Islamic American Relief Agency, as a supporter of terrorism. The designation froze all accounts, funds and assets of IARA, a charity that belongs to a larger network with headquarters in the Sudan. According to the Treasury Department, the charity funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Usama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. In addition, in 2002 U.S. authorities raided the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF). The Government charged various people tied to the organization with trying to obtain chemical and nuclear weapons on behalf of al-Qaeda.

Since the 1980s, terrorist organizations have developed a sophisticated and diverse financial infrastructure within the United States. It is widely known that almost every terrorist organization from Hamas to al-Qaeda has accessed America's financial resources and institutions to their benefit. They have leveraged magazines, mosques and charities as front organizations to support terrorist activities overseas. Although these groups do not share all the same objectives, they have shown the willingness to work together in the United States to raise money for terrorist activities (See Figure 5).73

Terrorists also exploit various venues to raise funds and spread their violent message to a wider audience, most unwitting of the source. For example, at the 1996 annual convention of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) in Chicago, Abdurahman Alamoudi told the audience, "once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it. There is no way for Muslims to be violent in America, no way. We have other means to do it."74 Alamoudi, who has been a guest at the White House on several occasions under the Clinton and Bush Administration's, pleaded guilty to smuggling money into the country, as well as to participating in a plot to kill the then-crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Not all people who speak at these conventions are radical or favor violence against the United States. In fact, extremists account for only a very small percentage of the people who attend these functions, but the events also attract the worst of terrorists. In the past, these Muslim conferences have even hosted the likes of Ayman Zawahiri, who is believed to have attended a fundraising conference in Santa Clara, California for the Egyptian Islamic Jihad sometime after the first World Trade Center attack.75 This would have been al-Zawahiri's second visit to the United States since 1989.

72 "Islamic African Relief Agency," U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, October 13, 2004.
73 Richard Clarke, "Testimony before the United States Senate Banking Committee," October 22, 2003.
74 "United States of America v. Abdurahman Muhammad Alamoudi," United District Court, Eastern District of Maryland (, September 30, 2003.
75 "Egyptian Doctor Emerges as Terror Mastermind," Profile of Ayman al-Zawahiri,



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