Cigarette-Smuggling Arab Linked to 1994 Yeshiva Murder
Sixteen Palestinians, with ties to convicted terrorists, were indicted last Thursday in an alleged cigarette-smuggling scheme.
One of the sixteen men has reported links to the 1994 murder of sixteen-year-old yeshiva student Ari Halberstam in a terror attack on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Muaffaq Askar, who was arrested last week in New York, has long been suspected of supplying Rashid Baz with weapons he used to attack a van carrying 15 Lubavitch students on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Baz reportedly called Askar his “Palestinian uncle. ”
The cigarette-smuggling scheme is believed to have cost New York state millions of dollars in sales tax revenue, according to authorities, with investigators saying that they uncovered $55 million in illegal cigarette sales.
"This case started because we were being vigilant about terrorism," police commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement. "We discovered that individuals who were on our radar for links to known terrorists were engaged in a massive raid on the New York Treasury in the form of cigarette tax avoidance."
According to reports, the proceeds from the smuggling scheme are believed to have gone to support the terrorist organizations of Hamas and Hizbullah.
"The proceeds from this alleged scheme can be used to fund a host of other criminal acts that threaten national security and public safety of Americans at home and abroad," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, according to CNN.