CHICAGO – Prosecutors accused an Islamic charity leader of extensive ties with Usama bin Laden's (search) terrorist network, saying he ushered dozens of armed warriors into Bosnia to establish a base there.
Enaam Arnaout (search) "allowed violent persons both inside and outside of the Al Qaeda (search) network to flow to areas of conflict and survive there under the cover of an American charity," prosecutors said in court papers made public Friday.
Arnaout, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday on racketeering charges. He admitted defrauding donors to Benevolence International Foundation (search) by sending supplies to military-style units in Bosnia and Muslim rebels fighting Russians in Chechnya (search).
Prosecutors claim the Syrian-born Arnaout has failed to live up to his promise in a plea agreement to cooperate in the terrorism investigation and give the government information about bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
They are seeking the maximum sentence of 20 years.
Benevolence, which funneled donations to widows, orphans and the needy across much of the Muslim world, has been largely shut down since Dec. 14, 2001, when federal agents raided its offices in the Chicago suburb of Palos Hills.
Arnaout, who has been jailed since April 2002, acknowledges he was befriended by bin Laden while living in Pakistan years ago. But he denies he is an Al Qaeda member and insists he doesn't support terrorism.
Arnaout's lawyers say he knew bin Laden when western Pakistan was a staging area for Afghan fighters who drove occupying Soviet troops from their country. They say he never subscribed to bin Laden's violent views.
The defense attorneys did not immediately return a phone call after the new government filing was made public late Friday afternoon.
Prosecutors said they were prepared to call a former Al Qaeda member, Jamal Ahmed al Fadl, to testify at the sentencing.
In the court papers, prosecutors said bin Laden told al Fadl in 1993 "Al Qaeda was using several charities to fund its operations overseas, specifically naming al Birr."
They said that translates into English as "Benevolence."
They said al Fadl met Arnaout and an Al Qaeda leader when he went to Croatia in 1992 to gather information for bin Laden.
Prosecutors said Arnaout admitted that Benevolence offices in Bosnia were used to transport dozens of armed men, some from a training camp in Afghanistan, into Bosnia.