Benevolence International Corporation is said to have been started in the 1988 by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa of Jeddah, the brother in law of Osama bin Laden. Back then, it was known as an "import-export" company. It is said that this group was a front for the Abu Sayyaf group.
Meanwhile, another group known as the Islamic Benevolence Committee was founded in both Jeddah and Peshawar, Pakistan by Sheikh Adil Abdul Batargy. The group was a "charity" that openly supported rebels fighting against the Soviet Union in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In 1992, the Benevolence International Corporation in the Philippines folded visible operations, while the Islamic Benevolence Committee was renamed to Benevolence International Foundation. The Filipino group would become a group set up to attack U.S. interests in the Philippines. Khalid Sheik Mohammed is said to have led the rest of the group.
The group was moved to the United States, with Enaam Arnaout as the director. The organization first set shop in Plantation, Florida. Arnaout married an American woman and obtained citizenship to the United States. In 1993, the organization's headquarters moved to Chicago, Illinois. The group stated that it was a charity. U.S. prosectors believe that the group funneled money to Al-Qaida operatives around the world.
In late 1994, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa travelled to the United States to meet with Mohamed Loay Bayazid, who was the president of Benevolence International at the time.
The two were arrested in Mountain View, California in December 1994. The FBI received communications from the Philippines that Khalifa was funding Operation Bojinka, a terrorist plot that was foiled on January 6, 1995. However, Khalifa was deported to Jordan by the INS in May 1995. The Jordanian court acquitted Khalifa, and he is currently in Saudi Arabia. Bayazid was also let go. His whereabouts are unknown.
The group claimed that it was "helping those afflicted by wars. BIF first provides short-term relief such as emergency food distribution, and then moves on to long term projects providing education and self-sufficiency to the children, widowed, refugees, injured and staff of vital governmental institutions."
The U.S. Government alleges that the group sent money and communications to Osama Bin Laden, purchased rockets, mortars, rifles, bayonets, dynamite, and other bombs for Al-Qaida members in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and redirecting funds meant for charity purposes to purposes related to terrorism. The U.S. government also alleged that the group was aiding the travel of terrorists, including Khalifa, Bayazid, and Mamdouh Salim and coordinating the escape of BIF members from Bosnian police.
On November 19, 2002, the group was classified as a terrorist group funder. In February 2003, Enaam Arnaout pleaded guilty to providing boots, tents, and uniforms for rebels in Chechnya and Bosnia. The plea agreement allowed for him to provide information to prosecutors as long as charges that are related to Al-Qaida are dropped. To this day, he publicly denies any link to the group.