EUGENE, Oregon — A US jury will have to determine whether a man's failure to disclose $150,000 on federal tax forms was an effort to smuggle money to Muslim fighters in Chechnya or just an oversight by an accountant.
Prosecutors told jurors during closing statements Wednesday that Pete Seda was a closeted Muslim radical with ties to groups that smuggled cash to support the mujahedeen in Chechnya. His attorneys portrayed the Oregon man as a friendly pillar of the community who stood for moderate Islamic principles.
Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, has pleaded not guilty to a count of conspiracy to defraud the US government and a count of filing a false return with the IRS. He is not charged with terrorism. A co-defendant, Soliman Al-Buthe, faces the same charges but cannot be extradited from Saudi Arabia.
Despite the fact that Seda is on trial on tax charges, prosecutors attempted throughout the trial to show Seda's affiliations with international radical Muslim groups. Seda is the head of the US chapter of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc., which has been declared a terrorist organization by the US government.
Prosecutors say he used the charity as a cover for smuggling the money to help Muslim fighters trying to overthrow the government of Chechnya.