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May 17, 2013

Cigarette Smuggling Case Linked To Hamas


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announcing the indictment

Earlier this week, authorities in New York announced the indictment of 16 men accused of smuggling more than $55 million worth of cigarettes from Virginia to New York.  Fifteen of the men are in custody while one is at large, believed to be in Jordan.  One of the accused is also believed to have sold the gun used in the 1994 murder of Ari Halberstam in Brooklyn.

Several of the men in the smuggling ring are reportedly suspected of having ties to Hamas and other militant groups.  Although authorities do not yet know where the revenue was directed, they noted that, in the past such operations have been used to finance Hamas and Hezbollah.

While fundraising for terrorist organizations is not limited to cigarette smuggling, there have been several cases within the United States in recent years, including:

  • A group of approximately 20 men ran a criminal enterprise in Dearborn, Michigan, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, cigarette papers and Viagra, as well as stolen infant formula and toilet paper.  Prosecutors contend that the ring diverted some of the funds to Hezbollah.  Naturalized U.S. citizen Karim Hassan Nasser pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in September 2006, as did Theodore Schenk of Miami Beach, Florida and Imad Hamadeh of Dearborn Heights.
  • Dearborn resident Elias Mohamad Akhdar was sentenced in January 2004 to nearly six years in prison for his role in a cigarette-smuggling ring designed to finance Hezbollah. Another Dearborn resident, Hassan M. Makki, received a sentence of nearly five years in prison in connection with the scheme.
  • Carole Gordon and her granddaughter Brandy Jo Bowman were among eleven people charged in January 2003 for their involvement in a cigarette smuggling ring that funneled its proceeds to Hezbollah.   Both Gordon and Bowman pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.
  • Mohamad Hammoud was charged in March 2001 for raising funds and conspiring to provide “a variety of items that Hizballah [sic] would use to engage in violent attacks and to film such attacks for use in Hizballah [sic] propaganda efforts,” according to court documents.  Hammoud allegedly procured dual-use technologies for Hezbollah, including goggles, global positioning systems, stun guns, naval equipment, nitrogen cutters and laser range finders.  Hammoud and his brother, Chawki, were convicted the following year of providing material support to Hezbollah through their cigarette-smuggling ring that knowingly directed money to the terrorist organization.
  • At least three naturalized U.S. citizens – Said Mohamad Harb, Bassem Youssef Hammoud and Hussein Chahrour – and U.S. citizen Angela Georgia Tsioumas are among a group of nine individuals who bought cigarettes in North Carolina, shipped them to Michigan and sold them at a price lower than the tax-inflated Michigan price.  From 1995 to 2000, the scheme generated over $7 million used to procure dual-use technologies for Hezbollah.  Items were reportedly purchased for Hezbollah in both the U.S. and Canada, including goggles, global positioning systems, stun guns, naval equipment, nitrogen cutters and laser range finders.  Harb pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorists and racketeering charges.  Tisoumas  pleaded guilty to racketeering and money laundering charges.   Chahrour pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.  Bassam Youssef Hammoud pleaded guilty to trafficking in contraband cigarettes.

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September 20, 2012

Chicago Teen Arrested For “Violent Jihad” Bomb Plot

Adel Daoud Photo From Facebook

An 18-year-old Chicagoan was arrested last week by the FBI for attempting to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a bar in downtown Chicago. The plot was apparently intended as retaliation for America’s perceived war with Islam and “oppression against Muslims.”

Adel Daoud was arrested after trying to set off a fake device set up by FBI agents as a part of a sting operation. Federal authorities began monitoring Daoud in October 2011, after discovering his radical posts on Jihadist Internet forums.

His online activity included sending friends copies of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language terrorist magazine, Inspire, in order to “brainwash them.” On one online extremist forum, Daoud described Inspire as “the best magazine I have read.”

He also shared recorded lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric killed in Yemen last year, and a video by American terrorist Omar Hammami, an Alabama native who became the pub­lic face and voice of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.

According to the FBI affidavit, Daoud also used the internet to research justifications for suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. In May of this year, federal authorities began communicating with Daoud online and by July, undercover agents were meeting with him in person.

During the course of the FBI investigation, according to the affidavit, Daoud expressed his desire to carry out attacks in the United States and to travel abroad to join terrorist groups overseas, in particular in Yemen. Daoud allegedly applied for a new passport in March 2012.

Before settling on the bar, Daoud presented a list of proposed targets, including military instillations, concerts, malls and tourist attractions. According to a recorded conversation with the undercover agent, Daoud alluded to the fact that Muslims shouldn’t be at a bar, and if they are, they deserve what they get.

“I want [to do] something that’s gonna make it in the news,” he said, according to the affidavit. “If it’s only like five, ten people, I’m not gonna feel that good.”

One of Daoud’s friends was allegedly involved in the plot as well, but dropped out after being confronted by the sheikh at the mosque they attended.

Daoud has been charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and an explosives violation. He faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.

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