Mark D. Siljander

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mark D. Siljander
Mark D. Siljander.jpg
Mark Siljander during the 98th US Congress
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 4th district
In office
April 21, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by David A. Stockman
Succeeded by Fred Upton
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 42nd district
In office
Personal details
Born Mark Deli Siljander
(1951-06-11) June 11, 1951 (age 67)
Cook County
Political party Republican

Mark Deli Siljander (born June 11, 1951) is a former Republican U.S. Representative and deputy United Nations ambassador from the state of Michigan.[1] He is the author of A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, which won the 2009 Silver Nautilus Award.[2]

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Siljander was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended the public schools, having graduated in 1969 from Oak Park and River Forest High School.[3] He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1972 and a Master of Arts from Western Michigan in 1973.[3] He served as a trustee on Fabius Township Board in St. Joseph County, Michigan, from 1972 to 1976 and also worked as a real estate broker.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Siljander served as a U.S. Representative from the Michigan's 4th congressional district from April 21, 1981 - January 3, 1987. He served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.[4]

At the time of Siljander's election, Michigan's 4th congressional district was in southwestern Michigan and included Three Rivers and Kalamazoo. Time magazine noted that the district was predominantly conservative, having elected only one Democrat in [the twentieth] century, in 1932.[5]

Siljander was known as a dogmatic social conservative. He criticized President Ronald Reagan's Supreme Court appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor.[6] Time characterized him as a Fundamentalist Christian and reported on Siljander's election:

"I'm part of the silent majority that was heard Nov. 4 [when President Reagan was elected]," says Siljander. "My support comes from morally concerned citizens who are sick of the situation in this country." Siljander pledges to battle the Equal Rights Amendment, pornography, abortion, school busing and "big spending." He will champion the neutron bomb, the MX missile and prayer in public schools.[5]


On January 27, 1981, incumbent Republican Party U.S. Congressman David A. Stockman from Michigan's 4th District resigned to become President Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the following special Republican primary, Siljander ranked first in a seven candidate field with a plurality of 37%.[7] He defeated Stockman-endorsed tax attorney John Globensky (36%) and State Senator John Mowat (22%).[8][9] In the April 1981 special general election, he defeated Democratic Cass County Commissioner Johnie Rodebush 69%-29%.[10][11][12]


Siljander was challenged in the next Republican primary by attorney Harold Schuitmaker and defeated him 56%-44%.[13] In the general election, he won re-election to a full term with 60% of the vote.[14]


Siljander was challenged again in the Republican primary, and defeated Tim Horan 58%-42%.[15] In the general election, he won re-election to a second full term with 67% of the vote.[16]

In 1984, Siljander sponsored a single-sentence amendment which read, "For the purposes of this Act, the term 'person' shall include unborn children from the moment of conception." Alexander Cockburn referred to the Siljander Amendment as "the most far-reaching of all the measures dreamed up by the conservative right to undercut Roe v. Wade."[17] It failed 186-219.[18]

In 1985, Siljander proposed legislation which would deny Most Favored Nation status to countries that discriminate on cultural, ethnic or religious grounds.[19][20]


Once again Siljander was challenged in the Republican primary, this time by Fred Upton, a staffer to Stockman. Upton defeated Siljander 55%-45%.[21]


· H.Con.Res.262 - 97th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "A concurrent resolution regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Laos, and Cambodia." Expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should demand compliance by the Soviet Union with existing treaties on chemical warfare as a prerequisite for starting the Geneva arms talks.[22]

· H.R.6325 - 97th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "Housing and Automobile Industries Recovery Act of 1982".

Housing and Automobile Industries Recovery Act of 1982 - Title I: Exemption for the Purchase of Certain Bonds by Employee Pension Benefit Plans - Provides a temporary exemption from certain provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the Internal Revenue Code relating to prohibited transactions for the purchase of certain bonds sold to fund residential mortgages and domestic motor vehicle loans.
Title II: Interest Reduction Payments - Provides for interest reduction payments by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to assist with the financing of the purchase of certain residences and domestic motor vehicles. Sets forth: (1) requirements and restrictions for eligible loans and mortgages; and (2) guidelines for the allocation of such payments.
Authorizes appropriations for FY 1982 through 1988 to carry out this title.
Prohibits the Secretary from making any commitments to make interest reduction payments under this title after August 31, 1983.[23]

· H.R. 4985 - 97th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "Comprehensive AFDC Improvement Act of 1981-Part I"[24]

· H.J. Res. 279 - 98th Congress, Sponsor [passed, amended]: "A joint resolution expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the reduction of emigration from the Soviet Union." Expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should urge Soviet compliance with the Helsinki accords and the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights at the U.N. General Assembly and at all other appropriate international meetings as they relate to the emigration of Soviet Jews.[25]

· H. Res. 147 - 98th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "A resolution concerning observance by the Government of Romania of the Human Rights of the Hungarians in Transylvania, especially the right of self-determination." Declares that the House of Representatives deplores the denial of the rights of Hungarians and people of other nationalities in Transylvania by the Romanian Government. Requests the President and the Secretary of State to discuss the human rights of the Hungarians in Transylvania with the Government of Romania.[26]

· H.R.4157 - 99th Congress, Sponsor [introduced]: "Child Abuse Victims Rights Act of 1986"

Child Abuse Victims Rights Act of 1986 - Amends the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Statute to extend its coverage to the sexual exploitation of children.
Authorizes a civil suit for treble damages for any persons injured personally or in their business or property by violations of RICO relating to the sexual exploitation of children.
Amends the Federal criminal code to provide a mandatory life sentence for any person who kidnaps an individual under the age of 18. Imposes the death penalty in any case where such victim dies as a result of the kidnapping.
Increases the penalties for offenses involving the sexual exploitation of children. Provides for a mandatory minimum sentence for second offenders.
Extends the statute of limitations for certain offenses involving the sexual exploitation of children.
Requires the Attorney General, within one year, to submit a report to the Congress recommending possible changes in the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and other courtroom prosecutorial and investigative procedures which would facilitate the participation of child witnesses in cases involving child abuse and sexual exploitation.
Specifies a list of considerations including: (1) the use of closed-circuit cameras, two-way mirrors, and other out-of-court statements; (2) the use of judicial discretion to circumscribe the use of harassment or confusing questions; (3) the use of videotape in investigations; (4) the possibility of streamlining investigative procedures; and (5) improved training of prosecutorial and investigative staff in the special problems of child witnesses.
Requires the Attorney General to modify the classification system used by the National Crime Information Center in its Interstate Identification Index, and by the Identification Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to offenses involving the sexual exploitation of children, to include the age of the victim and the relationship of the victim to the offender. Requires such classification to use a uniform definition of a child.[27]

Post-congressional career[edit]

Political career[edit]

Siljander was appointed by President Reagan as an alternate representative to the United Nations General Assembly, serving from September 1987 to September 1988.[3] He was an unsuccessful candidate in 1992 for nomination to the 103rd Congress from Virginia. He stated then his message was, "not religious values as much as it's common-sense American traditional values." He campaigned on a budget freeze, a ten percent flat tax and a line-item veto.[28] In the Republican primary, Siljander came in second to Henry N. Butler, a law professor at George Mason University.[29]

Private career[edit]

Siljander is president of Bridges to Common Ground, an NGO dedicated to promoting peace and understanding, with a specific agenda of undermining the process and causes of Islamic radicalization by bridging the divide among the faiths.[30] The website hosts an unsourced list of "successes" ending wars and solving crisis from 1994 to 2015.[31]

Siljander's book, A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide was a 2009 Nautilus Silver Award Winner,[32] and has a forward written by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, with whom Siljander worked closely to resolve the humanitarian disaster in Darfur.[33]

Siljander founded Trac5, "utilizing distinctive strategies toward reconciliation and peace in the context of the Abrahamic faiths,"[34] with the stated goal to build a bridge between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.[35]

In November 2006, Siljander gave a speech at Regent's Park College, Oxford, entitled "Overcoming the Muslim Western Divide: Seven Bridges to the Common Ground."[36] Siljander has studied Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew languages, and was affiliated academically with the Edinburgh Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies.[37]

Legal controversy[edit]

On January 16, 2008, Siljander was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri on five counts including money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.[38][39] On January 28, 2008, Siljander pleaded not guilty in Federal court before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.[40]

On July 7, 2010, Siljander pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.[41] On January 12, 2012, he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.[42]

False claims of ties to terrorism[edit]

The language used by federal prosecutors in the press conference announcing Siljander's indictment prompted global headlines[43][44][45][46] tying Siljander to terrorism and terror funding.

Also, under the government's own headline, "Terrorism and National Security", the Justice Department included the Siljander guilty plea as one of their two announced successes against terrorism. The January 2008 news conference provoked a firestorm of reporting, that continued through 2013.[47]

The day following the press conference, the Justice Department's indictment News Release corrected the "terrorism" statements by stating, "It is important to note that the indictment does not charge any of the defendants with material support of terrorism, nor does it allege that they knowingly financed acts of terror."[48] It went largely unreported.

Response from Siljander[edit]

Upon his release from prison, Siljander publicly protested his innocence, and claimed that two Muslim co-defendants (whom he had never met nor spoken with) had been induced to give false testimony against him in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Siljander's open letter to his newsletter subscribers was quoted in full in several venues, and contains the following narrative:

Throughout my 15 years in various levels of government, I tried to make the world safer by political means. This failed. However, these experiences led me to revelations that address the needs of a dominant issue in our time—bridging the growing divide among Christians, Muslims & Jews. Over time this work produced a model for peacemaking and problem solving in complex crises in places like Iraq, Libya and Sudan. These efforts gained traction for peacemaking with U.S. & world leaders; while my controversial book on the subject, A Deadly Misunderstanding, was being readied for a major release. My approach required working with both friends and enemies of our country.

Unfortunately, certain "interests" felt bridging the faiths and forging alternatives to war was a betrayal of my former associations. My success brought not accolades but disdain, and was perceived as a threat to justifying our expanding intelligence/eavesdropping apparatus and the trillions spent fighting the "War on Terror."

To support this exciting peace and faith bridging work, we raised funds for travel, research and writing. One donor, a 25-year-old U.S. based, government approved Muslim charity, was recommended by one of my Muslim associates in the work. The charity's principals were later indicted on grounds of supporting terrorists and misappropriating [U.S.] government grant funds. Those opposed to my work seized this opportunity to discredit me by insisting I testify against the charity. I refused to give a false testimony and was consequently indicted on outlandish charges of money laundering & conspiracy. This exploded into a media frenzy tying me with terror funding, even though the judge reminded prosecutors that the case had nothing to do with terrorism or national security. After four years of exaggerated accusations, all major charges were dropped, leaving only obstruction of justice for claiming to the FBI that I had not lobbied for the Muslim charity and [for] not registering as a lobbyist.[49]


  • Siljander, Mark D. (October 2008). A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide. New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-143828-8. [32]
  • Belz, Emily. "Bad Connections". WORLD magazine. 14 August 2010. pp. 44–6.


  1. ^ "SILJANDER, Mark Deli - Biographical Information". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d "Siljander, Mark Deli - Biographical Information". United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  4. ^ Times, Bernard Gwertzman and Special To the New York. "INVITATION TO A TICKLISH SITUATION". 
  5. ^ a b "True Believer". Time. 1981-05-04. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  6. ^ "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search". 
  7. ^ "MI District 4 - Special R Primary Race - Mar 24, 1981". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  8. ^ "The Argus-Press - Google News Archive Search". 
  9. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive Search". 
  10. ^ "MI District 4- Special Election Race - Apr 21, 1981". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  11. ^ "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search". 
  12. ^ "The Argus-Press - Google News Archive Search". 
  13. ^ "MI District 4 - R Primary Race - Aug 10, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  14. ^ "MI District 4 Race - Nov 02, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  15. ^ "MI District 4 - R Primary Race - Aug 06, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  16. ^ "MI District 4 Race - Nov 06, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  17. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (2000-08-07). "Don't Waste Your Vote. (brief article)". The Nation. 
  18. ^ "NCHLA". 
  19. ^ "Bill Summary & Status 99th Congress (1985 - 1986) H.R.2596 - All Information". THOMAS (Library Of Congress). Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  20. ^ "Why Romania No Longer Deserves to Be a Most Favored Nation". Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  21. ^ "MI District 4 - R Primary Race - Aug 05, 1986". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  22. ^ Mark, Siljander, (11 February 1982). "H.Con.Res.262 - 97th Congress (1981-1982): A concurrent resolution regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Laos, and Cambodia". 
  23. ^ Mark, Siljander, (28 May 1982). "H.R.6325 - 97th Congress (1981-1982): Housing and Automobile Industries Recovery Act of 1982". 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Mark, Siljander, (1 August 1984). "H.J.Res.279 - 98th Congress (1983-1984): A joint resolution expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the reduction of emigration from the Soviet Union." 
  26. ^ Mark, Siljander, (3 April 1984). "H.Res.147 - 98th Congress (1983-1984): A resolution concerning observance by the Government of Romania of the Human Rights of the Hungarians in Transylvania, especially the right of self-determination". 
  27. ^ Mark, Siljander, (21 February 1986). "H.R.4157 - 99th Congress (1985-1986): Child Abuse Victims Rights Act of 1986". 
  28. ^ Baker, Peter (1992-03-22). "Former Michigan Representative Enters Race for N.Va.'s New Seat". The Washington Post. 
  29. ^ Hsu, Evelyn; Peter Baker (1992-06-10). "McSlarrow, Butler Win N.Va. Races; GOP Primaries Fill Congressional Slates". The Washington Post. 
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-29. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  32. ^ a b "2009 NAUTILUS BOOK AWARDS SILVER WINNERS". Archived from the original on May 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  33. ^ Farley, Maggie (2008-01-19). "Indicted ex-lawmaker as diplomat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  34. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  35. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  36. ^ [1] Archived February 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  37. ^ "Edinburgh Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies - Special Lectures 2005". Archived from the original on October 21, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  38. ^ "Former lawmaker charged in terrorism case". CNN. Associated Press. 2008-01-16. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  39. ^ "Islamic charity charged with terrorist financing (press release)". US Attorney's Office Western District of Missouri. 2008-01-16. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  40. ^ "Ex-lawmaker pleads not guilty in money-laundering case". 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2016-01-15. 
  41. ^ Chris Killian, "Pity, disbelief expressed for Mark Siljander: Former Southwest Michigan congressman pleads guilty to federal charges", Kalamazoo Gazette, July 8, 2010. Accessed August 31, 2011.
  42. ^ ""Former Michigan congressman Mark Siljander sentenced to year in federal prison"". 
  43. ^, "Ex-Lawmaker Charged in Terror Conspiracy"
  44. ^,2933,323250,00.html, "Ex-Congressman, U.N. Delegate Indicted as Part of Terrorist Fundraising Ring"
  45. ^, "Ex-Congressmen Indicted as Jihadist Money Man"
  46. ^, "US politician on al-Qaeda charge: A former US congressman has been charged with helping to fund 'a key al-Qaeda supporter' in Afghanistan"
  47. ^, "Terrorism and National Security: Recent Significant Cases"
  48. ^ "#08-029: 01-16-08 Islamic Charity Charged with Terrorist Financing; Former U.S. Congressman Indicted for Money Laundering". 
  49. ^ ""Siljander declares his innocence"". 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Stockman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Fred Upton