N.Y. Officials: Smuggling Ring Has Terror Links - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

N.Y. Officials: Smuggling Ring Has Terror Links

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Basel Ramadan Basel Ramadan
Samir Ramadan Samir Ramadan

NEW YORK (WBOC/AP)- Authorities say some of the suspects charged in a Virginia-to-New York cigarette smuggling scheme have links to top officials of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.
 
New York law enforcers outlined the alleged terror links Thursday while announcing that 15 of the 16 people they believe are involved have been arrested charged in the smuggling case.
 
"The association of some of the suspects in this case to the Ari Halbestram's killer, the Blind Sheik and a top Hamas official concerns us," said New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

While authorities said it has not been established yet where the illicit proceeds ended up, they noted that similar schemes have been used in the past to help fund terrorist organizations like Hamas. The United States and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Two of the smuggling defendants, 42-year-old Basel Ramadan and his brother, 40-year-old Samir Ramadan, both of Ocean City, Md., are being held without bond at the Worcester County Jail in Snow Hill, Md. According to investigators, Basel Ramadan was the ringleader of the operation. Prosecutors alleged that he and Samir Ramadan furthered the criminal enterprise by depositing more than $55 million from their untaxed cigarette sales into small local financial institutions in and around Ocean City, and used that money to purchase additional cigarettes for illegal sale.

Maryland court records show the Ramadan brothers were taken into custody Wednesday. Their arrests followed the execution of search warrants at their homes on the 12000 block of Whisper Terrace in West Ocean City as well as a Subway restaurant they owned on North Philadelphia Avenue in Ocean City.

Each of the defendants arrested in the alleged scheme face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted, authorities said. 

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