leader of Muslim charity gets 11 years
- The following article, attributed to Mike Robinson of the Associated Press,
appeared on page A6 of the Tuesday, August 19, 2003 edition of The Arizona
Republic. It is interesting that as much as the government wanted to
paint Arnaout as being tied to al-Qaida, he was only convicted of genuinely
reactionary acts--supporting the Bosnian and Chechen separataists. I don't
like anything that tends to support the "war on terror", but it's hard for
me to think Arnaout didn't get what he deserved.
MUSLIM LEADER SENTENCED
Chicago--A Muslim charity leader linked by prosecutors to Osama bin Laden was
sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison for defrauding donors
by diverting money intended for refugees to Islamic military groups.
Enaam Arnaout, 41, a Syrian-born U.S. citizen who says he has met bin Laden
but opposes terrorism, was calm as the sentence was imposed by U.S. District
Judge Suzanne B. Conlon.
The government's investigation of Arnaout and his Benevolence International
Foundation, based in suburban Palos Hills until it was shut down in 2002,
has been a major component of the war on terrorism.
Arnaout pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge, admitting that he diverted
thousands of dollars from his Benevolence International Foundation to pay
for boots, tents, uniforms and other supplies to military groups in Bosnia
Conlon sentenced Arnaout to 11 years and four months in prison. He must
serve nearly ten years before he is eligible for parole.
Arnaout's foundation funneled about $20 million to Muslim countries over
eight years in the 1990s to help widows, orphans and refugees. From
$200,000 to $400,000 went to fighting groups.
Conlon ordered Arnaout, looking tired after more than a year in solitary
confinement, to pay $315,624 in restitution and recommended that it be
turned over to the United Nations for refugee work.