October 1, 2003 --
The American Muslim leader charged with smuggling $340,000 out of Libya was suspected of funneling cash from Osama bin Laden to blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman in the failed 1993 attempt to blow up New York City landmarks, The Post has learned.
The shocking revelation about Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, a wealthy Saudi scion arrested Sunday, means there were suspicions about his terror ties long before he became a politically connected activist rubbing elbows with U.S. politicians and training Islamic chaplains for the U.S. armed forces.
Amoudi's name surfaced almost a decade ago when federal agents grabbed the blind sheik and several other suspects as they were literally mixing a "witches brew" of explosives in Queens to detonate bridges, tunnels and landmarks in the Big Apple, a knowledgeable source said.
Among those arrested was Abdel al-Rahman Haggag, the sheik's speechwriter, who turned government informant.
Haggag said he believed Osama bin Laden routinely funneled $5,000 payments to Rahman through Amoudi and his organization, the American Muslim Council.
Bin Laden's funds were allegedly used to pay Rahman's rent and phone bills in New Jersey and Brooklyn, a source said.
Investigators tried to prove Amoudi was a terror middleman but could not find "smoking gun" evidence.
That allowed Amoudi to became a politically connected Muslim activist and co-founder of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council, which helps the U.S. military select Muslim chaplains.
On Aug. 11, Amoudi was stopped in England at Heathrow Airport with 34 bundles of sequentially numbered $100 bills in his suitcase as he prepared to fly to Syria.
He said he received the money from Libyan officials to try to win release of Libyan assets frozen after the 1988 Pan Am bombing.
But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Brett Gentrup said in court documents yesterday the feds suspect Amoudi might have been funneling the $340,000 to terror groups operating in Syria, such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Gentrup also said a transcript had been uncovered in which Amoudi criticized al Qaeda's selection of terror targets.
Amoudi said too many Muslims were killed in attacks such as the 1998 Kenyan embassy bombing, the court documents claimed.
"I prefer to hit a Zionist target in America or Europe or elsewhere," Amoudi said, according to the court documents.
Amoudi, 51, who was refused bail yesterday, was arrested at Dulles Airport and charged with having financial dealings with the outlawed Libyan government of Moammar Khadafy.
Additional reporting by Niles Latham