More charity jihad, from the Daily Southtown:
Prosecutors told a federal appeals court Tuesday that Enaam Arnaout, the imprisoned leader of a now-defunct Palos Hills-based Muslim charity, should have been dealt with as a terrorist and sentenced to much more time behind bars.
Arnaout, 42, is serving an 11-year prison sentence for defrauding donors of Benevolence International Foundation. The Syrian-born Justice resident pleaded guilty two years ago to charges he used some charitable donations to help armed rebels in Bosnia and Chechnya.
Arnaout's attorneys insist he deserves a new sentencing hearing under a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that tossed out the mandatory system used to determine how much prison time Arnaout was eligible for.
But in their own appeal of the sentence, prosecutors claim the judge who handled the case should have ruled that Arnaout promoted terrorism — a finding that would have mandated he spend at least 20 years behind bars. During brief oral arguments before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Kocoras said Arnaout's sentence was "unreasonably low."
The U.S. attorney's office has long insisted Arnaout was linked to al-Qaida and at one point was a close associate of Osama bin Laden. The legal case tying Arnaout to al-Qaida fizzled after a series of adverse court rulings, and a judge ultimately concluded the government had "failed to connect the dots" between Arnaout and terrorism.
And even though prosecutors eventually agreed to drop the terrorism charges against Arnaout in exchange for his guilty plea to fraud, they still maintain the case is much more serious than a simple money-swiping scheme.
"He wasn't defrauding donors to line his pockets with money," Kocoras said. "He was defrauding donors to arm fighters overseas."