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Illinois man on no-fly list, stranded in Mideast

CHICAGO — A former Islamic charity director from suburban Chicago who must return to the U.S. as a condition of federal probation said he is stranded in the Middle East because he is on the no-fly list.

Enaam Arnaout, 50, received permission from a federal judge in Chicago to travel to the Middle East to visit family. The permission came after Arnaout was released from a 10-year federal prison sentence in July 2010 and placed on supervised release. Arnaout pleaded guilty in 2003 to defrauding donors to his charity, Benevolence International foundation in Palos Hills.

Arnaout is a Syrian-born U.S. citizen who lives in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview. Prosecutors accused him of having ties to Osama bin Laden, but Arnaout denies he raised money for terrorists.

Arnaout planned to visit family in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but he was denied entry to Jordan. Instead he visited family in Egypt, where he tried to depart for the U.S. but was told he couldn't board the flight from Cairo.

In court papers filed Monday in Chicago, Arnaout said he apparently can't leave Egypt because he is on the FBI Terrorist Screening Center's no-fly list. Arnaout is asking a federal judge to grant him repatriation or end his supervised release.

"The government's left hand doesn't know what its right hand is doing," Arnaout's attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, said.

Arnaout said in the filing his preference is to come back to the U.S., "where he is a citizen and now has his roots."


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