The grand jury charges Arnaout with operating Benevolence International Foundation as a racketeering enterprise. Benevolence International Foundation, or BIF, is a tax-ex- empt, purportedly charitable organization with offices in Illinois, Pakistan, Bosnia- Herzegovina, and elsewhere. The indictment charges that Arnaout operated BIF for more than a decade in order to use fraudulently the charitable contributions of Muslim- Americans, U.S. Corporations, and other donors to support terrorism and other violence overseas.
The grand jury charges Arnaout with seven counts:
If convicted of these crimes, Arnaout will face a maximum punishment of 90 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Arnaout is accused of defrauding charitable contributors by falsely claiming that the Benevolence International Foundation used donated funds solely for humanitarian relief. In fact, funds were being used to support Al-Qa'ida and other groups engaged in armed violence overseas. In addition, in an effort to conceal donors who knowingly supported terrorism, Arnaout is charged with commingling charitable contributions intended for humanitarian purposes with contributions intended to support armed violence.
In order to deceive donors, and to guarantee the success of his operation, Arnaout is charged with concealing at all times from the government, the general public, and a considerable number of donors his relationships with Al-Qa'ida, its leader, Osama bin Laden, and other terrorist organizations. In fact, the indictment describes an archive of incriminating documents recovered in the Bosnian offices of BIF in March, 2002 docu- ments that link Arnaout directly to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qa'ida.
Discovered in the possession of the Benevolence International Foundation were:
The documents recovered in the Benevolence International Foundation's Bosnia offices provide for the first time documentary proof of the founding of Al-Qa'ida and the oath sworn by Al-Qa'ida members. The documents uncovered from the Benevolence Inter- national Foundation, headed by the man charged in the indictment today, show the American people and the world for the first time tangible proof of the founding of the world's most dangerous terrorist network and the oath of allegiance its members pledge. It is chilling that the origins of Al-Qa'ida were discovered in a charity claiming to do good.
From the first hours following the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Department of Justice has pledged to use all of our means within the law to identify, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist networks. A central element of our strategy is to identify, disrupt, and destroy those organizations that supply the financing that makes terrorism possible.
There is no moral distinction between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who knowingly finance terrorist attacks. And what is perhaps most disturbing about this case is that Enaam Arnaout is charged with using a purportedly charitable organization to deceive Muslim-American charitable givers, who are obliged by the principles of their religion to donate to legitimate charity.
Please note a charge from the indictment. In November, 2001, Arnaout spoke via tele- phone to a BIF employee in Bosnia and agreed with that employee that financial sup- port for an injured fighter could not be reflected on BIF's financial records and that the employee should create a new list of orphans as a means of justifying the expenditures. It is sinister to prey on good hearts to fund the works of evil.
The Department of Justice, under the leadership of the President, will use every means, and leave no stone unturned in finding those who will knowingly fund violence and terrorist groups. We will sort through the evidence and separate legitimate donors from those who break the law. So, to those who give to legitimate charities, my message today is this: know that the United States government supports charitable giving and will, as we are doing in this case, protect legitimate donors from fraud.
But to those who would exploit the generosity of others, break the law, and provide financing to terrorists and other groups engaged in violence, my message is this: we will find the sources of terrorist blood money, we will shut down these sources, and we will ensure that both terrorists and their financiers meet the same, swift, certain justice of the United States of America.
Terrorism & U.S. Homeland Security
The Threat of Radical Islam
More on the Threat of Radical Islam
War & Peace in the Real World
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States, presented the above message during a press conference held in Chicago, Illinois, on October 9, 2002.
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