Arnaout faces a possible 90 year sentence if convicted of these charges.
The Government also states that upon conviction it will seek sentencing
enhancements that would result in Mr. Arnaout being sentenced to life in
prison. In these circumstances, and given the post 9/11 climate in this
country, regardless of Mr. Arnaout's actual guilt or innocence of all
this, the natural human tendency has to be for Mr. Arnaout to
apprehensively feel he's in a difficult and opprobrious situation, from
which flows an incentive and risk for flight. In addition, the evidence
offered by the Government was that even several months prior to Mr.
Arnaout's ever being formally charged in a criminal complaint, Mr.
Arnaout discussed with another individual whether he should leave for
Saudi Arabia (where Mr. Arnaout's Mother and siblings live) and not
return to the United States. Further government evidence was that a month
or two before being formally charged criminally, Mr. Arnaout advised the
Benevolence International Foundation representative in Pakistan to leave
and relocate to Afghanistan with all the money, to avoid the Pakistani
intelligence authorities who were looking for that Pakistan
As to physical means: The Defendant has an extensive international
network of contacts, which is not available to the average person.
Besides a sister organization in Canada and an office in New Jersey,
Benevolence International Foundation ("BIF")*fn1 had about twelve
offices overseas; namely, in Pakistan, Bosnia, Yemen, Sudan, Azerbaijan,
Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Dagestan, Soviet Georgia, China and
Ingueshita (moved from Chechnya). BIF also had charitable projects in a
number of these countries plus Afghanistan. As stated, Defendant has
family in Saudi Arabia and he was born and raised in Syria. And Defendant
used to reside in Florida.
The Court thus perceives that Defendant has the requisite mental state
and the available physical means to create a risk of flight.
It also bears noting that electronic monitoring can't stop a person
from fleeing. It can be noted, too, that all the property previously
proposed to be posted as bond security is either owned by BIB or members
of the community. There thus would be no financial harm incurred by
Defendant's family if he flees, which therefore creates significantly
less incentive for the Defendant to stay than if Defendant or his family
was to post substantial security.
In view of the foregoing, considering the totality of the factors and
circumstances, the Court determines that the Government has met its
burden that the Defendant is a risk of flight. And the Court finds that
no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the
appearance of the Defendant as required. Therefore, the Defendant is
ordered detained pending trial.*fn2
In light of the Court's ruling, the Court deems it unnecessary to
consider whether the Government has established by clear and convincing
evidence that the Defendant is a danger to the community.
In closing, the Court directs that Enaam M. Arnaout be afforded
reasonable opportunity for private consultation with counsel.
18 U.S.C. § 1342 (i)(3).
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS — PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING BEFORE THE
HONORABLE IAN H. LEVIN — RULING
PROCEEDINGS RECOREDED BY MECHANICAL STENOGRAPH TRANSCRIPT PRODUCED BY
My ruling is as follows as to this matter:
In preface, it bears noting that this is not a trial and that the
nature of the proceeding presently before the Court is such that the
defendants do not mount a defense.
Rather, and essentially, the purpose of this preliminary hearing is to
determine from the evidence presented by the United States Attorney's
Office if there is probable cause to believe that the offense of perjury
as charged in the criminal complaint here has been committed by the
Specifically, the complaint charge herein is that the defendants
knowingly submitted false material declarations under oath in a federal
district court proceeding here in Chicago and in violation of Title 18,
United States Code, Section 1623.
As is pertinent here, the portion of the sworn declarations signed by
defendant Arnaout on behalf of the defendant Benevolence International
Foundation — hereafter called BIF — in issue states that
Benevolence International Foundation, "has never provided aid or support
to people or organizations known to be engaged in violence, terrorist
activities or military operations of any nature."
At the hearing before the Court, the United States Attorney's Office
presented evidence that in 1995, relative to military operations and
violence, Benevolence International Foundation representatives delivered
an X-ray machine and $3225 to Chechnyan guerillas or freedom fighters for
military operations in Azerbaijan.
The U.S. Attorney's Office also presented evidence that during or after
February, 2000, a website dedicated to the cause of the Chechen freedom
fighters in the military fight or jihad in Chechnya posted donation links
on the website for Benevolence International Foundation (and only one
other charity) as a trustworthy aid organization to donate money to the
Chechnyan mujahideen (holy warriors) or freedom fighters for the military
operations in Chechnya.
The U.S. Attorney's Office presented related evidence that during or
around the same February, 2000, period, BIF wired $685,000 to its account
in that vicinity or region.
When the described website and $685,000 in money transfers are compared
as to time and considered with other circumstantial evidence presented by
the government, for purposes of this probable cause hearing, a reasonable
inference is that the subject $685,000 or some significant portion
thereof went for military operations and violence in Chechnya.
Regarding the issue of materiality raised by Mr. Piers in the closing
argument, the Court respectfully finds that the declaration at issue is
"material." The civil district court suit filed by BIF is wholly premised
on the premise that BIF is solely a charitable organization. The
declaration by BIF therein that it has never provided aid or support to
any people or organization known. to be engaged in military operations of
any nature or violence is, therefore clearly and inherently a material
declaration in that civil suit.
In summary, in view of the described evidence presented by the
government regarding the X-ray machine, $3,500 in cash for use by the
Chechen mujahideen (or guerillas or freedom fighters) in their war
activities in Chechnya, plus the evidence surrounding the $685,000 in
money transfers discussed, the Court finds that probable cause exists
that the defendants knowingly submitted false material declarations under
oath that BIF has never provided
aid or support to people or
organizations known to be engaged in, inter alia, "violence" or "military
operations of any nature."
Accordingly, the Court finds from the evidence that there is probable
cause to believe that the offense charged in the complaint has been
committed and that the defendants have committed such offense. The
defendants, thus, are held to answer for further proceedings in the
That is the finding of the Court on that issue. I certify that the
foregoing is a correct transcript from the record of proceedings in the