Chicago Tribune, Aug. 10, 2002
By Matt O’Connor
Tribune staff reporter
A guerrilla warfare manual explaining how best to blow up bridges and booby-trap household irons was seized in a raid in Bosnia at a location affiliated with a Chicago-based Islamic charity accused of links to terrorism, federal prosecutors said Friday.
The disclosure came in U.S. District Court as prosecutors sought to justify the need for a court order sharply limiting access to sensitive documents in the government’s case against Palos Hills-based Benevolence International Foundation and its executive director, Enaam Arnaout.
Prosecutors are also seeking approval to conduct background checks on any experts or investigators hired by Arnaout’s lawyers before giving them access to sensitive government evidence.
Arnaout and Benevolence International are charged with perjury for denying links to terrorist activities.
The manual showed how to bomb bridges and booby-trap irons so they would blow up when in use, Kocoras said.
Kocoras said the manual was seized in a raid at an undisclosed Bosnian location affiliated with Bosnia Ideal Future, a sister organization of Benevolence International.
Matthew Piers, Benevolence International’s lawyer, scoffed at the manual’s significance, saying Bosnia was racked by civil war for a decade and remains heavily armed.
“Until somebody shows me something that proves this is tied to the charity, I say baloney,” Piers said.”Time and again in this case, they [prosecutors] have been blowing smoke.”
The government is seeking to prescreen Arnaout’s defense team–experts and investigators as well as secretaries and paralegals–before granting access to any sensitive government documents.
U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, who is personally prosecuting the case, said he wants to make certain defense experts don’t have links to Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.
“There’s a lot of whispers and rumors, but we’re charged with perjury, and the basis for the perjury has to do with the Chechen mujahedeen,” Ziegelmueller said. “We’re not going to be defending ourselves on a perjury charge by hiring experts from Al Qaeda.”
Ziegelmueller called the government’s demand to do background checks on defense experts “the epitome of government paranoia.”