Former US Congressman Gets a Year in Prison for Terrorist Affiliation

A former United States congressman was sentenced Wednesday to one year and a day in prison for accepting payments from a charity found to be aiding Islamic terrorist groups.

Republican Mark Deli Siljander, 60, was a member of the U.S. Congress from April 1981 to January 1987. After his six years in Congress, he went on to be an ambassador to the United Nations and manage a marketing company based in Washington called Global Strategies.

Siljander was offered a plea deal where he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the terrorist agency, according to Reuters.

The organization, called the Islamic American Relief Agency, was closed in 2004 after being found to have violated U.S. sanctions by giving millions to Iraq. The agency was declared a terrorist organization by the Treasury Department.

Mubarak Hamed, the agencies past executive director, was also accused of helping support financially Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan leader who was declared a terrorist by the U.S. in 2002.

The U.S. government discovered that Hekmatyar, former prime minister of Afghanistan, supported al-Qaida and the Taliban. He once “vowed to engage in holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan,” according to Reuters.

The same year of its closure, the organization enlisted Siljander to remove its name from a list of charities thought to be associated with terrorists. In total, the congressman received $75,000 from the organization.

The Chicago Tribune reports that four co-defendants were also sentenced on Wednesday for supporting the organization: three of them were citizens, and one was a legal resident.

A former director of the organization, named Hamed, who was a naturalized citizen from Sudan, received the most time of the defendants. He was given four years and 10 months in prison for attempting to give over $1 million to Iraq and obstructing charity regulation laws.