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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Benevolence Foundation Founder Added To Designated Terrorist List

By J.M. Berger

The Treasury Department has banned Americans from doing business with a founder of the Benevolence International Foundation, Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee.

Batterjee was today added to the Specially Designated Nationals list maintained by the U.S. Treasury Department, a legal move that also allows the U.S. to block the assets of named "individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific."

Batterjee is a wealthy Saudi national born in Jeddah in 1946. In 1987, Batterjee founded the Islamic Benevolence Committee in both Saudi Arabia and Peshewar, Pakistan. According to the U.S. government, one of IBC’s purposes was to raise funds in Saudi Arabia to support the efforts of the mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden’s former roommate and current brother-in-law, created the Benevolence International Corporation in the Philippines in 1989. BIC purported to be an import-export company and later repositioned itself as a charity, according to the Far East Economic Review.

The Far East Economic Review (a publication of the Wall Street Journal) cites BIC as the direct predecessor to BIF. The U.S. indictment of BIF’s executive director makes the same claim about IBC. Both statements are very likely correct.

Batargy, the founder of IBC, and Khalifa, the founder of BIC, were each known associates of Osama bin Laden, and moved in the same circles and cities in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Pakistan. Two BIF-related indictments (U.S. vs. Benevolence International Foundation, and U.S. vs. Arnaout) make it clear both men had very close ties to the U.S. Benevolence International Foundation.

In 1992 or 1993, Benevolence incorporated in Palos Hills, Ill., outside Chicago. where it would eventually move. Sheik Adil Abdul Galil Batargy dropped out of the organization around this time, after questions began to arise overseas about the nature of Benevolence’s operations. Benevolence opened offices in Pakistan, Bosnia, Canada and Azerbaijan, and possibly elsewhere.

With Batargy’s departure, Enaam Arnaout formally took charge of Benevolence. According to the government, Benevolence engaged in a pattern of fraud, diverting funds raised for charitable purposes to terrorist activities around the world. Arnaout pleaded guilty to misappropriating funds and received an 11-year jail sentence. As part of his plea deal, Arnaout did not admit to aiding and abetting terrorism.

Spellings and aliases, according to the Treasury Department, include: BATARJEE, Adel Abdul Jalil (a.k.a. AL-BATTARJEE, 'Adil; a.k.a. BATARJI, 'Adil 'Abd al Jalil; a.k.a. BATTERJEE, Adel).

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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