March 31, 2004

Amish Country Splodeydope?

It's too soon to tell, but there's a possibility that the Jihad has come to northeast Indiana:

HOWE - A week-old shooting involving a Russian assault rifle sparked a two-state, multi-agency investigation of possible, but so far unlikely, connections to terrorist activity. The person charged in the shooting is Adel Al Yazidi, 34. He was arrested Friday in Trumbull County, Ohio, accused in the attempted murder of three people on the outskirts of this northern LaGrange County town on March 24.

The case has since evolved beyond the shooting. When Yazidi was arrested, police found a Mideastern video depicting various buildings and explosions, along with sheets of counterfeit cigarette tax stamps inside the home where he was staying.

"The FBI stated they don't believe there's any link (to terrorism)," said Detective Jeff Campos of the LaGrange County Sheriff's Department, adding he is not worried about a terrorist threat in LaGrange County.
It's not like they found bomb-making materials or anything. They just stumbled over (allegedly) part of the revenue stream, that's all. Nothing more to see here, citizen. Move along.
The investigation in LaGrange County began after a local business owner, Saleh "Sam" Ali Obad, told police Yazidi had forged about $30,000 in checks from Obad's business, B&S Auto Sales.

Obad had left his business in the care of Yazidi when he returned to visit family in Yemen. Yazidi allegedly took checks from the business and forged Obad's name on them, cashing them throughout the region, according to Obad and police.
Oops! Stepped in another part of the (alleged) revenue stream. Never mind.
Obad told Yazidi he had filed forgery charges against him, police said, and about 6:30 p.m. March 24 on North LaGrange County Road 050 East, Yazidi placed an SKS assault rifle across the roof of his car and opened fire on a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche driven by Obad, with his wife, Ella Wampler, and a friend, Saif Abdulla Muthana, all of Howe.

No one was injured, although the vehicle was riddled with bullet holes in the front, the engine and the doors on the driver's side. One large round went through a house across the street, passing through the living room and lodging in the kitchen, Campos said.

The three were following Yazidi after he had been seen driving slowly by Obad's home and business property, according to police and Obad.

After the shooting, Yazidi took off in a stolen 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis, Campos said. He was arrested Friday in a different vehicle north of Warren, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border.

. . .

While searching the home of Yazidi's girlfriend north of Warren, near Orwell, Ohio, police found thousands of counterfeit cigarette tax stamps and the video.

Yazidi has been linked to addresses in a number of states, including Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York and Indiana, Campos said.

But police do not believe Yazidi is funding terrorism in Yemen.

Wendy Osborne of the Indiana FBI said she could not confirm or deny whether the FBI is investigating Yazidi.
So let me get this straight. The cops raid the guy's girlfriend's apartment, find items consistent with A) terrorist sympathies (the videos) and B) known methods of financing terror (the tax stamps), and they won't either 'confirm or deny' that they're investigating further? Look. If he's under investigation, why not say so? It's not like the rest of his cell won't already know he's been arrested. If he's not under investigation, what are they waiting for, a buggy bomb to go off in front of Yoder's farm? And if by chance he's not funneling money to Hizballah or whoever, what better way to clear his name than "We investigated further and determined there is no link between Mr. Yazidi and terrorism?"

If you're not clear on the role counterfeit cigarette tax stamps play in financing terrorism, read this. Indeed, given that Charlotte, Michigan (the town mentioned in that story) is less than 90 minutes drive from LaGrange, it's possible that Yazidi was in on that exact scam!

Back to the Journal-Gazette story:

The counterfeit cigarette tax stamps Ohio police found in the house - where Yazidi was staying - look like official stamps issued by state governments, said Detective Chet McNabb of the Trumbull-Ashtabula-Geauga Law Enforcement Task Force.

The stamps, which are legally required to be affixed to packs of cigarettes sold everywhere but on Indian reservations, are clear cellophane, with writing in black or blue ink, McNabb said. The counterfeit stamps - made on a computer - are stuck to packs bought at Indian reservations and then sold for full price.

"They'll take them to mom and pop stores, Arabic stores, put fake tax stamps on them, sell them for full price," McNabb said. "Eventually that money gets funneled back into the system to go back oversees. That's one of the ways (terrorists) get money."

Several Indian reservations are in New York, within a three-hour drive of Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.

McNabb said the task force found no cigarettes in Yazidi's girlfriend's house.

Police also found a video that showed "buildings, vehicles, all sorts of things being blown up," McNabb said.

"I have no way of knowing what it is, what it relates to," he said. "I don't know the language, so I don't know what they're saying."

But the video is definitely of Mideastern origin, McNabb said. The FBI terrorism task force out of Cleveland plans to examine it today.
Three guesses what it'll say. First two don't count.

Posted by Chris at March 31, 2004 03:49 PM

Category: Local Stuff

This is one of those instances when I'm hoping the police are trying to present themselves as clueless rather than actually being so.

Posted by: Steve at April 1, 2004 11:14 AM

I see what you're saying, Steve, but I don't think it matters. If I'm in charge of a cell running the phony-cig-tax-stamp fundraiser, and one of my guys gets busted holding a bunch of those stamps, I go to ground doublequick regardless of how clueful the cops appear to be.

Posted by: Chris at April 1, 2004 12:03 PM