Tuesday, September 05, 2006

... And Baby, Makes Terror

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... And Baby, Makes Terror

Crime is crime, no matter how it is applied ... but this should shake some people's view of what actions make-up a hate crime ... a different type of hate crime.

These people exploit the theft of supplies that babies need so they can support terror networks, networks that make up bombs that are eventually targeted at everyone - including babies!

There are many in politics (on the left) who believe that this terror war thing is just made up stuff. Terror war only exists because of our current executive administration. Ok!? ... Then just WHO are these guys!!

Excerpts from the Cleveland Plain Dealer -

Baby formula brings millions on black market
Theft rings raise concerns about connection to terrorism
Amanda Garrett and Mark Rollenhagen - Plain Dealer Reporters - Sunday, September 03, 2006


The Cleveland grocer rolled into Akron with $100,000 in cash and a mission.

Hasana Abdalla planned to buy a truckload of stolen baby formula, something he had done more than a dozen times before, a police report said.

But this was a setup.

Local and federal officials swooped in, seized Abdalla's money, impounded his red 2006 Mercedes and arrested him as part of a nationwide crackdown on the lucrative black-market trade in baby formula.

In all, court records indicate six men now face charges in Summit County, including Abdalla and Ramzi Shalash, an Akron convenience store owner who has relatives who have been convicted of dealing in stolen baby formula. Shalash's uncle and two cousins once sold $44 million of formula in just 15 months, according to federal court records and newspaper reports.

Much of the Akron case - including what Shalash and three others are charged with - is a mystery because only a portion of the Aug. 24 indictment is publicly available. It also charges Ahmed Ateyat, 39, of Hickory Hills, Ill., with attempting to receive stolen property.

Since 9/11, federal officials from North Carolina to Texas have broken apart theft rings dealing in massive quantities of baby formula and health and beauty products such as diabetes test strips and contact lens solution.

Most of the theft ringleaders arrested have been of Middle Eastern descent. Federal officials have repeatedly said they worry the black-market profits may be funding terror, but none of the 11 baby-formula cases reviewed by The Plain Dealer involved terror-related charges.

Before 9/11, many local police dismissed formula thefts as routine shoplifting - desperate people stealing to feed their children or drug addicts looking to make a fast buck.

But court documents in some of the cases reveal something else.

The Middle Eastern men running these organized crime schemes don't necessarily do the stealing.

They hire others to hijack tractor-trailers of baby formula. They also pay organized groups of shoplifters who blanket the country, picking up only what sells on the black market.

In houses, in warehouses, even in motel rooms, the groups stockpile the loot. A second team is then paid to "clean" the items, a tedious job, peeling off labels and security tags with a hair dryer and adhesive removers, according to government documents.

Other teams then relabel the items - sometimes with false expiration dates - and sell them by the case. Convenience stores in poor city neighborhoods often buy the stolen goods, but records show that major chains such as Wal-Mart and Target also unwittingly have purchased pallets of pilfered baby formula, razors and other items that were stolen from their own stores.

FBI Director Robert Mueller last year singled out Middle Eastern crime rings dealing in baby formula, telling the Senate Committee on Intelligence that the groups not only pose a potential health risk - selling expired baby formula - but also are a potential source of funding for terrorist groups abroad.

Some of the Middle Eastern men who run these black-market operations send money to the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Lebanon. Whether any of it has funded terror is unclear. Investigators say they lose the trail once the cash hits the Middle East.

FBI counterterrorism officials have told Congress they remain troubled because some sympathizers of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have been involved in the black-market trade.
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Shalash - standing behind security glass at Gas and Save, his gas station and convenience store on West Exchange Street in Akron - suggested someone may have used his name to buy stolen formula.

"I've never been involved in anything like that," he said.

His store sells baby formula from behind the counter.

Shalash acknowledged that he is related to residents of Lexington, Ky., who have been convicted of dealing in stolen baby formula. Shalash, who once lived in Lexington, said he doesn't see them anymore, adding that he has lived in Akron 21 years and doesn't know anything about their business.
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Shalash's uncle - Mohammed "Big Man" Shalash - appears to have founded a baby formula empire years ago at a Lexington warehouse. After federal officials raided the business in the mid-1990s, the uncle fled to the Palestinian territories before being indicted on racketeering and conspiracy charges. His family said he later died there.

One of the Big Man's sons, convicted of racketeering, is a fugitive. He was sentenced to five years in prison but fled before his sentence began. Another is serving a four-year sentence for dealing in stolen goods.

Last year, two other members of the Shalash family were convicted in a baby-formula scheme. In that case, the FBI set up a sting operation, with an agent posing in 2004 as a professional thief who specialized in boosting tractor-trailers.

It appears a similar sting happened in Akron, but police will not discuss the investigation. They referred questions to a U.S. Department of Agriculture agent, who did not return calls.

Hasana Abdalla, the Cleveland grocer, was arrested about 1 p.m. Aug. 11 in a warehouse area near Interstate 76 in south Akron.

About 12 hours later, the Illinois man, Ahmed Ateyat, was arrested in the same area when, according to police, he showed up with $50,000 in cash and a Chevy cargo van.
Reference Here>>

Additional information about the increase in shoplifting and the Retailing Marketplace's security systems response at Symblogogy.

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