Terror Tied Muslims Dropped From Government Watch Lists - Bin Laden Friend Enaam Arnaout and Hamas Operative Muhammed Salah
November 7, 2012
MIM:Muhammad Salah Hamas Operative removed from "specially designated terrorist" list:
"A suburban Chicago man who was convicted of lying about a Hamas shooting of an American teen has been removed from the U.S. government's "specially designated terrorist" list.
Bridgeview resident Muhammad Salah's attorney tells the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/StYJv6) that the U.S. Treasury Department has removed Salah from the list..."
MIM:Arnaout was photographed with Osama Bin Laden and was removed from the FBI's "no-fly" list:
"A former Islamic charity director from suburban Chicago has been removed from the FBI's no-fly list after he complained that he was stranded in the Middle East... The U.S. Treasury Department classified Arnaout as a "specially designated terrorist" in 1995 while he was imprisoned in Israel charged with supporting Hamas. Arnaout returned to the US and in 2003 was imprisoned for defrauding donors to his charity, Benevolence International. He was released in 2010." http://www.seattlepi.com/news/us/article/Feds-remove-Illinois-man-from-no-fly-list-4016839.php
"An attorney for a former Islamic charity director from suburban Chicago says he is back in the United States after claiming he was stranded in the Middle East because he was on a federal no-fly list.
Attorney Thomas Anthony Durkin said Wednesday that Enaam Arnaout returned to the U.S. two weeks ago after he had initially received permission from a federal judge to travel to the Mideast to visit family..."
news_title">Inaam Arnaout: I am considered Bin Laden's man in the US prison
Author: By Mohammed Al-Shafi, Arab News Staff
Thursday 7 November 2002
JEDDAH, 7 November From his cell in a Chicago prison where he has been held since last April accused of funding Al-Qaeda, Inaam Mohamad Arnaout, of Syrian origin and director of international charity organization Al Bir, wrote to Asharq Al-Awsat. He said that he had become an avid reader of the paper after having been allowed to subscribe to it.
In spite of difficulties, Asharq Al-Awsat was able to send him a number of questions. His answers describe the situation surrounding his arrest and his reaction to the accusations against him.
Arnaout maintains that the only evidence the Americans have is a number of photographs of him in Afghan dress and correspondence between him and Osama Bin Laden from 1987-1989. He says that the evidence against him consists of 35 pages available on the Internet and contains allegations of his relationship with wanted men, among them Ahmad Jamal Khalifa, Osama Bin Laden's brother-in-law; Mohamad Louai Bayazeed, accused of attempting to get uranium to build a nuclear bomb for Bin Laden; and Mamdouh Salem, one of those accused in the bombing of the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam.
Arnaout believes that the evidence and the accusations were found on a computer belonging to Al Bir in Bosnia.
Arnaout spoke of his life in prison and of other Arab prisoners in the same jail. He talked about his meeting with Bin Laden in the years of jihad against the Russians between 1986 and 1988. He was descended upon by tens of FBI agents on the morning of April 30 and taken to a detention center.
What is the nature of the present accusations against you in the American courts?
The accounts of "International Al Bir" were seized in the United States on Dec. 14 , 2001 under the new law requiring the verification of funding sources. At the time, I was in Bosnia but was advised to return immediately by my lawyer. Upon arrival in the United States on Dec. 20, we contacted officials through legal consul and were told we could go on working but could not withdraw funds for foreign work. This is rather amazing because all 10 of my American employees had left and there was only one person remaining. We closed the New York office and began to concentrate on the Canadian one; however, it too was closed two months after my arrest.
In March of last year the court ruled that it was illegal to keep the organization closed and ordered the government to return everything it had taken from our offices. I soon began to be aware of such things as my phone being tapped as well as my home and my movements being under surveillance. When it was time for me to travel to Saudi Arabia to renew my iqama, my passport was seized and on April 2, the attorney general contacted the jury saying that I must appear in person before a panel of jurors on the 25th of the month. I cancelled my travel plans and under the Fifth Amendment of the American constitution maintained my right to remain silent. The attorney general said that I was to appear as a defendant rather than as a witness and I was refused immunity. On the morning of May 30, I was arrested to my surprise on charges of perjury. The charge was based on a statement I had made in an official document presented to the court in an attempt to retrieve the organization's possessions and in which I had declared that "the organization had not funded terrorism" or any other terrorist or military act. The prosecutors presented a document prepared by the anti-terrorist office, consisting of 35 pages of forgeries and fabrications to facilitate my arrest. The judge dismissed the perjury charge on Sept. 13 and even after a number of court appearances, I was refused bail. The argument was that I was a threat to society and at risk of fleeing. This was all due to the fabrications in my file in the local media; the court finally ruled that the charge against me was perjury and had nothing to do with terrorism. The government nonetheless asked for a change of judges; this is the first time in history that this has happened.
What about the alleged links with Bosnia?
During some of the court sessions, we learned that the government had found a dangerous file in one of the computers confiscated from the Bosnian office. It contained a number of pictures and letters between Bin Laden and me, going as far back as 1987, 1988 and 1989 pictures of me carrying weapons and dressed in Afghani clothing. In addition there were indications of my relationships with a number of wanted men some of whom are now in prison in America. After my court appearances, the judge always concluded that the sole evidence on which the government was basing its case was a receipt for an x-ray machine from a Chechnyan mujahid in the summer of 1995. The government was supposed to show that there had been monetary funding of the Mujahideen.
Can you tell us of your daily life in prison and whether you are in solitary confinement or with others?
On Tuesday April 30, a number of FBI agents stormed my house, arrested me and took me to the court. I was given prison clothing and placed in a detention center used as a disciplinary facility. I was on the 11th floor under heavy guard; each cell measures 2m x 3m, has a bunk bed, washbasin, toilet and blacked-out window. The fluorescent tight in the room comes on at 6 in the morning and goes off at 10.30 p.m. Prisoners are allowed to leave the cell three times a week to take a shower and five hours a week to walk in a sports cage that measures 16 sq. m. Most of those in this facility stay only a few days or, at the most, several weeks. I have never heard of anyone, except Arabs after Sept. 11, spending so long in these cells. I have been here 151 days from the time that I wrote my letter to Asharq Al-Awsat.
How many Arab prisoners are in the Chicago prison and are you allowed to communicate with them?
There is an Arab prisoner of Syrian origin who is being kept in the cell for those likely to commit suicide; he is half-crazy and has been sentenced to 8 months imprisonment. During the day I am allowed to go from one cell to another but none of the other prisoners talk to me; I go from one cell to another every 21 days and I have stayed in 8 different cells so far. There are many Arab prisoners of whom I know nothing though I met some during my trips to the court. Now, however, since I no longer go to court, I am alone.
The roof of the prison, by the way, is set-aside for prisoners to enjoy the sun once a week. I was denied access until a plea to the judge made her order that I be allowed on the roof.
How do you spend the day in your cell and are you visited by the prison imam?
I read and pray. The first few days in prison were the hardest psychologically and my solace was, and always will be, the Holy Qur'an which the prison priest gave me. I read it exclusively until I got a subscription to the Chicago Tribune and Asharq Al-Awsat and the Arabic periodical, Al-Majalla, a weekly news magazine. At first, Asharq Al-Awsat was confiscated but later it came in without problems. Later I was allowed to buy books. In the evening after eating, I pray the evening prayers and then I listen to the radio. As for the imam, he is not allowed to see me and I haven't been allowed to attend Friday prayers on the communal floors. I don't know the reasons for either.
Are there any Muslims in the detention center and how do you perform your religious duties? What do you eat?
At 6 in the morning I receive a cup of milk with a cube of sugar and some corn flakes and at 10 fruit-based food. When I asked for Islamic food, it came to me undercooked so I went back to American food. The food is mainly pastries and pieces of meat or sausages and it comes under the cell door. At nine in the evening we are allowed a glass of iced or hot water and it is during that time that I see the other prisoners. My trips outside the cell are made while my hands, waist and feet are cuffed and I am the only prisoner who travels to court with three jailors. I am considered Bin Laden's man in the American prison.
Does your family visit you regularly or are there restraints?
They have allowed my wife to visit me. During the first four months this was carried out through thick glass and a net and our conversation was through a telephone until the judge ordered that my children be allowed to visit me once a week for one hour so I could hug them. Their visits take place with a microphone and camera surveillance. Of course I am the only person with these kinds of arrangements.
Tell us some more about Bosnia.
Al Bir's work in Bosnia began in 1993 when we supported some charitable projects. On March 19 the Bosnian authorities accompanied by FBI agents stormed into the office; they also came into my home, my wife's family home and that of the association's general manager. They took everything: papers official and otherwise, computers and files relating to charitable projects. The general manager is still being held on charges of spying because they allegedly found in his home secret government and security documents. They also say they have old files deleted from the computer's memory which they restored. They didn't really find anything of importance though they took a number of papers and documents from my house some official, such as birth certificates and passports, and my wife's Islamic books and her science ones she was in her final year of college studies. Because of this her father became ill and she asked me for a separation. My life has been ruined because of what I have been subjected to.
What do you say to accusations that you bought weapons for Al-Qaeda and had a close relationship with Bin Laden through the charity organization that you supervised?
The great America was like a sleeping bear awakened by the events of Sept. 11 they woke up and started planning, but in a state of total hysteria. They do not know our society or way of thinking and don't comprehend the building blocks of Islamic movements and the way of thinking from the extremist perspective.
They thus started striking out at random but in the end, the truth will come to light. As for my relationship to Al-Qaeda it is inconceivable for such to be the case I swear I have never been part of Al-Qaeda. My personal convictions in addition to my social character would never allow me to be a part of such a movement. As for the accusation of buying weapons the person mentioned was killed in 1989 so how can that be? Regarding the Balkan video, they claim that Adel Batraji, the former head of the Bir Al Khayriya', released a video in support of Al-Qaeda and further claimed that those who appear in it were members of Al-Qaeda and that the American Al Bir el Khayriya' is not an extension of the Al Bir Al Saudia'. We have legal proof of that which will be presented to the courts. As for Al Bir's funding of Al-Qaeda, I don't know what they are talking about. Their sole witness is Wadee' el Haj whom I have never met. He was the private secretary of Bin Laden and is under arrest in the US for his role in the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. As for my personal relationship to those in detention in the US I have met many hundreds of young men in my life and it doesn't mean that every person I meet will be my friend for life or that the two of us would be part of the same group or organization.
As for Bin Laden's brother-in-law, he once lived across from my wife's family home and I saw him several times during my visits to Jeddah, either on the street or in the mosque.