Chicago-based Muslim convicted of funneling money to jihadis stuck in Egypt, claims he’s on terrorist watch list by mistake
He’s just a “suburban man,” says the Chicago Sun-Times, but in 2005, a Daily Southtown story said this:
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….
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….
But now he would have us believe that he is on the terrorist watch list by “mistake” — it’s odd that he hasn’t yet played the “Islamophobia” card.
“Suburban man says he”s stuck in Egypt thanks to terrorist watch list mistake,” by Frank Main in the Chicago Sun Times, October 8 (thanks to Kenneth):
A southwest suburban man “” a convicted felon required to return to Chicago under the conditions of his federal probation “” says he”s stranded in legal limbo outside the United States because he”s apparently on a U.S. terrorist watch list.
Enaam Arnaout pleaded guilty in 2003 to funneling money to Islamic fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya.
The former director of the Benevolence International Foundation in Palos Hills was sentenced to 10 years in prison for defrauding contributors to the charity.
He admitted he siphoned a portion of the charity”s $20 million in donations to buy equipment for soldiers, even though the money was intended for widows and orphans.
Arnaout, 50, a Bridgeview resident, denied he was ever associated with al-Qaida, and prosecutors dropped terrorism charges against him in exchange for his guilty plea.
Arnaout, who was placed on supervised release last year, received permission this summer from U.S. District Judge Suzanne Conlon to travel to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to visit family members. He was allowed to stay for 41 days before returning to the Chicago area.
In a letter to the judge, Arnaout”s brother in Saudi Arabia had begged for her to approve the trip so Arnaout could see his ailing mother.
In court papers filed Monday in Chicago, Arnaout said he”s been stuck in Egypt because he is apparently on a U.S. no-fly list maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center and administered by the FBI.
On July 23, he had traveled from O”Hare Airport to Saudi Arabia with a planned layover in Jordan.
But in Jordan, he was told he wasn”t welcome to enter that country and that he could only receive a transit visa allowing him to board a connecting flight to Saudi Arabia, Arnaout said.
In Saudi Arabia, he contacted his probation officer here, who said he could meet his family in Egypt rather than Jordan, according to court papers.
On Aug. 23, he left Saudi Arabia and arrived in Cairo. But when his trip was over, and he tried to leave for the United States on Sept. 2, he was told he couldn”t board the flight and was instructed to contact the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Arnaout said….
Arnaout is now asking the judge to grant his repatriation request or terminate his supervised release.
His preference is to return to the United States “where he is a citizen and now has his roots,” he said in his filing.
“However, due to the health problems he is experiencing in Egypt and his lack of any lawful ability to work in Egypt, he must be permitted some way to lawfully return to Saudi Arabia where his family remains if he is not to be permitted a return to the United States,” his filing said.
Send him to the Saudis!