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Head of U.S. Muslim Charity Sent to Prison

A federal judge on Monday sentenced the head of a U.S.-based Muslim charity to more than 11 years in prison for defrauding donors, though she dismissed prosecutors’ allegations that he was a financier for al Qaeda. Syrian-born Enaam Arnaout, 41, had pleaded guilty on the eve of trial to defrauding donors out of as much as $400,000 that went to Muslim fighters in 1990s-era conflicts in Bosnia-Herzogovina and Chechnya, instead of widows and orphans as the charity had advertised. “The government failed to connect the dots … that Mr. Arnaout supported terrorist activity,” U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Conlon said in pronouncing a sentence of 11 years, four months. Arnaout, who is destitute and whose wife and children have returned to her native Saudi Arabia, was also ordered to pay more than $300,000 in restitution to the United Nation’s Commission on Refugees. Conlon said Arnaout’s personal relationship with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden dated to the 1980s Aghan-Soviet conflict “when this country wasn’t necessarily opposed to bin Laden.” Full Story

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