Enaam Arnaout, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to federal racketeering charges related to using his charity, the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), to support radical Islamist fighters in Bosnia and Chechnya, was released from prison in 2011.
Arnaout is a Syrian who reportedly became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1993, having initially come to the U.S. in 1989. Court documents from his criminal case identified his criminal activities pre-dating his naturalization to at least 1992, presenting a prima facie case of misrepresentation and fraud in Arnaout's naturalization process presuming he did not disclose those criminal activities to immigration authorities at the time.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed a federal civil complaint against Arnaout in Illinois, seeking to revoke his naturalization. The revocation action is based on the evidence developed during Arnaout's criminal case. In response to the lawsuit, Arnaout's attorney Thomas Durkin said that his client had done his time and has already suffered enough.
Arnaout's revocation case will likely be lengthy and complex. If the government prevails, Arnaout can appeal. But if Arnaout ultimately is stripped of his citizenship, he would revert to the immigration status he held prior to naturalization, which according to the complaint was a resident alien based upon his marriage to a U.S. citizen.
At that point, Arnaout would likely be subject to removal (deportation) as an alien convicted of an aggravated felony and also having been involved in terrorism support activities. Even though he was not criminally convicted of those terrorism support offenses, the evidentiary standard in removal proceedings is less than in criminal prosecutions.
Arnaout may be on his way to joining a notorious list that includes the likes of Fawaz Damra, Abdurahman Alamoudi and Rasmieh Odeh. While federal authorities aggressively pursue these cases in a commendable fashion since the backgrounds of those cases and the evidence support such action, there remain other such cases where the subjects remain inexplicably unscathed in this regard, notwithstanding similar backgrounds and presumably viable evidence that would support such revocation litigation.