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Illinois Charity Accused of Supporting Terrorism

Aired April 30, 2002 - 13:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: As promised, going to go to Kelli Arena right now. The U.S. has picked up a man from Syria, alleging that he has ties to Osama bin Laden. Kelli, what more do we know?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Federal agents today arrested the director of Benevolence International Foundation. That is an Illinois-based charity. The government accuses its director, Enaam Arnaout, of direct links to Osama bin Laden and he's charged with lying about links to international terrorism.

Now, Arnaout is scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate today. The charges against him allege that he has a relationship with Osama bin Laden and many of his key associates, and that relationship dates back more than a decade. The affidavit released today by the justice department cites a cooperating witness who says that the Benevolence International Foundation was used by al Qaeda for logistical support, including the movement of money to fund its operations. That's what we know at this point.

HEMMER: But, Kelli, do you know more about this relationship? How is it defined? How far back does it go? Do we know anything more?

ARENA: Well, we know that the relationship dates back more than 10 years, and it looked to be a funding operation, at least as alleged by the government. That is what we have at this point. We are going to thumb through that affidavit which is more than 100 pages to figure out what more we can offer.

HEMMER: I will not put you on the spot then. I will cut you free and go check it out, OK, 100 pages of reading ahead for you. Kelli, thanks. Kelli Arena, come back as soon as you know.

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