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U.S. v. ARNAOUT

November 22, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
V.
ENAAM M. ARNAOUT, A/K/A "ABU MAHMOUD", A/K/A "ABU MAHMOUD AL SURI", A/K/A "ABU MAHMOUD AL HAMAWI", A/K/A "ABDEL SAMIA"



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ian H. Levin, United States Magistrate Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The issue before the Court is whether the Defendant, Mr. Arnaout, should be detained pending trial or whether he should be placed on bond, with the type of conditions proposed by the Defense.

The Court takes judicial notice of the record in prior case number 02 CR 414, in which Mr. Arnaout was a defendant. The ruling of the Court at the probable cause hearing in case number 02 CR 414 is attached hereto for reference purposes.

BACKGROUND

As is pertinent here, and in abbreviated form, the indictment charges as follows: Mr. Arnaout became associated with Osama Bin Laden in the late 1980's. In about 1991, Arnaout worked with members of al Qaeda to purchase large quantities of weapons and to distribute them to various Mujahideen (fighter) camps, including al Qaeda camps.

The indictment continues: In 1993, Mr. Arnaout assumed formal management of Benevolence International Foundation ("BIF") and Mr. Arnaout remained in that position until, at least, his arrest this year. BIF was a charitable organization whose ostensible purpose was to use donated funds solely for humanitarian purposes, with a strong overseas focus. The focus of BIF's appeal for donated funds was principally to Muslim donors. However, Arnaout has always secretly used a portion of the money raised by BIF to support Mujahideen, including al Queda, engaged in armed confrontations and violence overseas, such as in Chechnya and Bosnia-Herzegovina (a fact concealed from many donors to BIF).

ANALYSIS

The Government's principal argument herein is that the Defendant is a risk of flight, which, under uniform case law, the Government must establish by a preponderance of the evidence.

The Court has taken into account the available information and arguments on both sides concerning the factors delineated at 18 U.S.C. § 3142 (g).

The Court finds, however, that there are several overriding factors in this case. In considering the risks of flight herein, implicitly, the Court must assess (A) the Defendant's mental state (including his motivation to flee) and (B) whether the Defendant has the physical means to flee.

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 ...


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