Charity Official Accused of Spying for Iraq

Feds: Mich. man set up U.S. lawmaker trips for Saddam Hussein's intel service.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:15 AM

March 26, 2008— -- The former spokesman of a Detroit-area Islamic charity, who organized U.S. congressional delegations to Iraq, has been indicted for alleged conspiracy to spy for Saddam Hussein's government.

Muthanna Al-Hanooti, who worked as a top official at Life for Relief and Development a charity in Southfield, Mich. allegedly coordinated U.S. congressional delegations to Iraq at the direction of the executed dictator's intelligence service between 1999 and 2002.

In return, investigators say he received payoffs via the United Nation's Oil for Food program.

The indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday in Detroit, alleges that between 1999 and March 2003, Al-Hanooti acted as an unregistered foreign agent for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and charges him with three counts of making false statements and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Al-Hanooti, the indictment alleges, provided the IIS with a written strategy of how to lift U.S.-Iraqi sanctions regulations, claiming he "provided to the IIS a list of members of the United States Congress whom Al-Hanooti believed favored lifting of the Iraqi sanctions regulations."

The court documents focus on a 2002 visit by members of Congress to Iraq that was paid through Life for Relief and Development: "In September and October 2002, an IIS officer directed an intermediary [in Michigan] ... to pay the 2002 congressional delegations' travel expenses."

Although their names are not mentioned specifically in the indictment, the trip taken by Reps. Jim McDermott D-Wash., Mike Thompson, D-Calif. and then-Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich. was widely publicized at the time.

A Justice Department official told ABC News that the lawmakers on the trip had no knowledge of Al-Hanooti's contacts with the IIS.

"None of the congressional representatives are accused of any wrongdoing, and we have no information whatsoever that any of them were aware of the involvement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service," said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd.