witch hunt against charity ends in plea bargain
- The following article appeared on page A11 of the Tuesday 11 February 2003
edition of The Arizona Republic and is credited to USA Today. There has
been a disturbing trend recently in which flimsy government charges have
ended with defendants giving up and accepting very unfavourable plea
agreements. The case of Abdul Hamid/John Walker Lindh is a perfect example
of that. The case described in this article is another. One wonders if there
is some behind-the-scenes duress involved, such as the government threatening
the defendant's family. In any case the progressive forces in the USA
should struggle for a constitutional amendment to ban plea agreements. They
exert pressure on the the innocent to plead guilty to avoid more severe
punishment and allow the guilty to receive unduly mild punishments. They
allow prosecutors to act by intimidation rather than justice.
GUILTY PLEA ACCEPTED IN CHARITY CASE
Washington--Federal prosecutors dropped charges accusing the head of a
Chicago-based Islamic charity of supporting al-Qaida as part of a deal in
which Enaam Arnaout pleaded guilty Monday to funding other violent causes
The government's case against Arnaout and the Benevolence International
Foundation was brought in October as part of an ambitious effort to block
cash raised in the United States from going to terrorist organizations.
But Monday's plea bargain struck just before jury selection in Arnaout's
trial removed the government's most striking accusation: That Arnaout
and his prominent foundation was a U.S.-based front for Osama bin Laden's
The plea agreement contained no references to al-Qaida or to bin Laden.
Instead, Arnaout admitted to a conspiracy in which the foundation diverted
hundreds of thousands of dollars from its advertised humanitarian effort to
purchase boots, tents, uniforms and other supplies for Bosnian soldiers
and Muslim rebels fighting in Chechnya during the past ten years.
Arnaout faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in