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Feds: Al-Qaida suspect lost millions

  |   June 22, 2011 at 8:57 PM
CHICAGO, June 22 (UPI) -- A suspected al-Qaida financier lost $20 million in a gamble with commodity futures on the Chicago Exchange, federal prosecutors say.

By the time the Justice Department blocked Abu al-Tayyeb's account in 2007, it was down to less than $7 million, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday. The government is trying to seize the money.

"Al-Tayyeb began raising significant amounts of money through a Saudi Arabian-based investment scheme," prosecutors said in a civil complaint. "Al-Tayyeb then used the funds raised, in part, to finance jihadist-related activities."

The complaint does not charge the money al-Tayyeb wired to an associate in Chicago was directly tied to terrorist activities. R.J. O'Brien & Associates, the Chicago company that handled the account, has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Federal prosecutors say al-Tayyeb was also known as Mohammad Abdallah Abdan al-Ghamdi and had close ties to al-Qaida -- and had met Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He allegedly put another man, Mohammad Qasim al-Ghamdi, in charge of his Chicago account, after wiring $35 million to Chicago, with almost $27 million eventually invested with O'Brien.

Al-Tayyeb and Qasim al-Ghamdi were arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2006, prosecutors said.

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