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Qtec
08-24-2004, 11:38 PM
http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2004/08/25/national/0825hamas.583.jpg
August 25, 2004
U.S. Holds Virginia Man After Taping at Maryland Bridge
By ERIC LICHTBLAU

ASHINGTON, Aug. 24 - A Virginian implicated in a scheme to raise money for Hamas, the militant group, was in federal custody on Tuesday, and officials analyzed what they regarded as a suspicious videotape of a major Maryland bridge that his wife shot from their vehicle last week.

A lawyer for the man, Ismael Selim Elbarasse of Annandale, said he and his wife were videotaping sights from the bridge on their way back from a beach trip. But Maryland officials tightened security at major bridges and ordered extra boat patrols because of concerns that the tape could signal possible surveillance for a terrorist operation.

Hamas has often attacked Israeli targets but has never been known to attack a United States target.

Mr. Elbarasse is being held as a material witness in a federal case in Chicago that accuses three other men of having illegally raised money for Hamas to finance terrorist attacks against Israel beginning in the early 1990's. An accountant, Mr. Elbarasse was named but not charged as a conspirator in the case in an indictment announced on Friday. Officials said he had helped the defendants launder hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas.

Several hours after the indictment was unsealed, two off-duty police officers from Baltimore County noticed Mr. Elbarasse's silver Nissan traveling westbound over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with Mr. Elbarasse's wife videotaping the bridge, state officials said.

The officers grew suspicious when Mr. Elbarasse's wife, whose name was not released, saw their police car and lowered the camera, officials said. Mr. Elbarasse, driving with his two daughters in the back, was stopped and questioned, and state officials determined that he was on a Federal Bureau of Investigation watch list as a "person of interest" with possible terrorist connections because of his ties to Hamas.

Travelers are stopped and questioned almost daily in Maryland after being spotted taping bridges, tunnels and other possible targets, said Police Chief Gary W. McLhinney of the Maryland Transportation Authority, the bridge operator. Chief McLhinney said Mr. Elbarasse's appearance on the F.B.I. list, combined with the tape contents, aroused suspicion.

"It was the nature of the videotape itself that got everyone's attention," he said in an interview. "This went beyond the normal tourist video. They didn't seem to be focusing on what people normally focus on there, the water, the skyline, the facilities on the shore. They were focused on the bridge itself."

With the country on alert for an attack before Nov. 2, Chief McLhinney and other officials said they were concerned that the tape could be used as a surveillance tool for an attack.

"That's possible," said Greg Massoni, a spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Erlich. "We haven't drawn any conclusions, but that's certainly an issue for us." Mr. Elbarasse's lawyer, Stanley Cohen, said the idea that his client was involved in surveillance was "absolute, utter rubbish."

"Hamas's struggle is in Palestine,'' Mr. Cohen said. "Hamas has never taken a position against the United States."

Mr. Elbarasse and his family "weren't doing anything," Mr. Cohen said. "They're going over this beautiful bridge, and his wife takes out a camcorder because she wants to videotape the sights. But all of a sudden it becomes a big thing because the cops see a woman in a hajib, in traditional garb, and it's like, 'Oh my God, she must be a terrorist.' ''

"If the wife was blond-haired and blue-eyed, they wouldn't have messed with her. This is straight out of central casting."

Mr. Elbarasse, who was jailed for eight months in 1998 for refusing to cooperate in a Hamas-related inquiry, will most likely face a hearing this week in the Chicago case, officials said.

????

Q

eg8r
08-25-2004, 06:41 AM
Were you going to say anything or are you in awe of the view? I was waiting for some insight once I got to the end but all I see is "???".

eg8r

pooltchr
08-25-2004, 07:37 AM
Let me see if I got this straight. A guy who was involved with money laundering for Hamas (a known terrorist group) and is a material witness in the case (Drawing a conclusion here that he just might know something about it...that would explain how he could be a material witness) is seen with his wife video taping a bridge. O-k, call me strange, but when I get out the camcorder, it's usually to tape people doing things, not a structure. The couple is from a part of the world where many have openly declaired war on our country. (oops, now I'm "Profiling", but I'm really getting sick of having to be politically correct! I would rather use some common sense than always take the "PC" route!)
YessirreeBob!!! I would probably be a little suspicious too!

Cueless Joey
08-25-2004, 07:45 AM
I wonder what would happen to a blond blue-eyed man wearing a rosary in Saudi Arabia.

eg8r
08-25-2004, 09:39 AM
You have to understand Q...He is not worried about what is the right thing to do. Instead he just wants to criticize everything. This is only a hunch as far as this post is concerned since he did not say a single thing in his post.

However, based on Q's past, he was quick to jump on Bush for not doing anything prior to 9/11 and now when the country is acting a little more proactively he is quick to criticize that also. His entire presence here is to encite not inform or understand.

eg8r

dg-in-centralpa
08-25-2004, 03:07 PM
Since you don't live in our country, why is it that everything bothers you. If Kerry wins, are you going to keep pointing out faults or will you stop? I don't give a $hit what happens in your country, why are you so concerned about ours and quick to point out our faults? Just remember who saved your a$$ during WW2. Maybe you should be a little more appreciative. We have our faults and problems. No question. But it is still a better place to live than any other European country.

DG - jmho

Qtec
08-26-2004, 05:17 AM
If anyone wanted detailed close-up photos of the bridge, they only need a pc.

eg, http://www.bridgemeister.com/pic.php?pid=114

Q

Ross
08-26-2004, 10:13 AM
I agree Steve. Given this guy's past history, it was not unreasonable to at least question the guy. It could have been perfectly innocent, but it needs to be checked out. I don't know about taking him into custody (what were the charges?) though. I think I would question him and his wife separately, ask for the videotape, and then let them go. If the tape was truly suspicious, I would then have the FBI surreptitiosly do a follow-up investigation of the guy's recent and current activities to see if it led anywhere.

eg8r
08-26-2004, 10:39 AM
[ QUOTE ]
I think I would question him and his wife separately, ask for the videotape, and then let them go. If the tape was truly suspicious, I would then have the FBI surreptitiosly do a follow-up investigation of the guy's recent and current activities to see if it led anywhere.
<hr /></blockquote> What if the tape and follow-up investigation did lead somewhere, you just let them go free. If the guy was a bad guy with bad intentions for that bridge, and he knew the evidence was on the tape, do you think he would head home and wait for another officer to do a little more investigating? I really like your answer to this post, except that I would keep the man in custody just to make sure. If in any case at least make sure no other countries are looking for him. I don't think this is done very quickly on a roadside stop.

eg8r

highsea
08-26-2004, 12:02 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> I agree Steve. Given this guy's past history, it was not unreasonable to at least question the guy. It could have been perfectly innocent, but it needs to be checked out. I don't know about taking him into custody (what were the charges?) though. I think I would question him and his wife separately, ask for the videotape, and then let them go. If the tape was truly suspicious, I would then have the FBI surreptitiosly do a follow-up investigation of the guy's recent and current activities to see if it led anywhere.
<hr /></blockquote>This guy is not your ordinary tourist, okay?
[ QUOTE ]
Ismael Selim Elbarasse, long suspected by authorities of having financial ties to the Palestinian extremist group, was taken into custody last week and held as a material witness in an unrelated terrorism case in Chicago.

A federal grand jury in Chicago last week described Elbarasse as an unindicted co-conspirator in a 15-year scheme to finance terrorist activities in Israel. Hamas has carried out suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel.

Court documents allege he and defendant Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook — considered one of the highest-ranking Hamas leaders internationally — shared a Virginia bank account that was used to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hamas.

According to the FBI, the tape in the camera shows the cables and upper supports of the main section of the bridge and zooms in on bridge joints.

Elbarasse was jailed for eight months in 1998, after failing to testify before a federal grand jury that was investigating Hamas fund-raising.<hr /></blockquote>
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-08-24-hamas-bridge_x.htm

-CM

Ross
08-26-2004, 02:45 PM
Yeah, that's what I said.

Ross
08-26-2004, 03:06 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote eg8r:</font><hr> What if the tape and follow-up investigation did lead somewhere, you just let them go free. If the guy was a bad guy with bad intentions for that bridge, and he knew the evidence was on the tape, do you think he would head home and wait for another officer to do a little more investigating? I really like your answer to this post, except that I would keep the man in custody just to make sure. If in any case at least make sure no other countries are looking for him. I don't think this is done very quickly on a roadside stop.

eg8r <hr /></blockquote>

Well, he might be innocent, but let's assume he is guilty.

If surveillance is his thing, then I imagine he is not going to be running anywhere. If he does, then he has just lost his value to whoever he is surveilling for. He also is a longtime US resident with a family of four, so I doubt he will be that hard to find. Finally, I'm just not a big fan of taking people into custody without charging them with a crime - it's that whole Constitution thing. If they have reason to charge him, then by all means.

A final, final argument. If the cops were really smart, they would be very polite, tell him that confiscating the tape was routine in these times of terror warnings, and send him off with a smile. Then they would try to get a wiretap order quickly to see who he calls or e-mails first. People in custody usually don't talk much (unless they are the poor, dumb criminal type.) Especially people who think they are fighting for a noble political cause. You will likely get more info from him in the wild than clammed up in jail, IMO.

Brute force is not always the most effective countermeasure to bad guys, no matter what the Republicans tell you. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

highsea
08-26-2004, 04:10 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> Yeah, that's what I said. <hr /></blockquote>Oh.












Well... okay then! /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/blush.gif

Qtec
08-26-2004, 06:46 PM
http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Bay_Bridge_Walk_WB3.jpg

We are talking about a tourist attraction here!
Whatever this is all about,its got nothing to do with a terrorist attack on the bridge.

Q

highsea
08-26-2004, 07:09 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> We are talking about a tourist attraction here!
Whatever this is all about,its got nothing to do with a terrorist attack on the bridge.

Q <hr /></blockquote>Qtec, posting a picture of a bridge walk does not make it a "tourist attraction", but let's just say it does for the sake of the argument. I mean, hey, it's not the Grand Canyon, but what the heck.

The WTC was a tourist attraction too, right?

-CM

Qtec
08-26-2004, 09:10 PM
OK. Lets just say he was 'casing the joint. Are the police going to search every vehicle that wants to cross the bridge? Are they going to repeat this on all bridges? If so, for how long?
Every year thousands of people enter the US illegaly. Every year thousands of tonnes of cocaine enter the US.
I hate to say it but a terrorist with a gun and a couple of grenades on the NY metro would make more of an impact than some minor damage to a bridge.
The only way to be safe is to have no enemies.Forcing Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians would be a start.

Q

Ross
08-26-2004, 10:10 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> OK. Lets just say he was 'casing the joint. Are the police going to search every vehicle that wants to cross the bridge? Are they going to repeat this on all bridges? If so, for how long?
Every year thousands of people enter the US illegaly. Every year thousands of tonnes of cocaine enter the US.
I hate to say it but a terrorist with a gun and a couple of grenades on the NY metro would make more of an impact than some minor damage to a bridge.
The only way to be safe is to have no enemies.Forcing Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians would be a start.

Q
<hr /></blockquote>

Qtec has a point. (I know you can nitpick what he says here, but I'm talking about the general gist of what he is saying.)

highsea
08-26-2004, 10:50 PM
Actually it sounds like blaming the victim to me. It's the same tired old line. If the US didn't support Israel, we wouldn't be targets for terrorism.

Clinton did force Israel to make a peace, and Arafat agreed to it. He then went right home and started an intifada that has gone on for 4 years.

I have decided not to second guess the FBI on their investigations. If they choose to increase security at a bridge, I don't mind. In this instance, they may have netted someone, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see.

As far as imaginary attacks, terrorist on a subway or a demolition of a bridge, I can't say which would be worse, only that they both would be very bad.

-CM

pooltchr
08-27-2004, 05:11 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> OK. Lets just say he was 'casing the joint. Are the police going to search every vehicle that wants to cross the bridge? Are they going to repeat this on all bridges? If so, for how long?
Every year thousands of people enter the US illegaly. Every year thousands of tonnes of cocaine enter the US.
I hate to say it but a terrorist with a gun and a couple of grenades on the NY metro would make more of an impact than some minor damage to a bridge.
The only way to be safe is to have no enemies.Forcing Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians would be a start.

Q
<hr /></blockquote>

Qtec has a point. (I know you can nitpick what he says here, but I'm talking about the general gist of what he is saying.) <hr /></blockquote>

The US has no choice but to increase security. The arguement that many are here illegally doesn't get it. We aren't going to catch EVERY one of them, but if we aren't looking, we aren't going to catch ANY of them. Just because tons of coke make it into this country doesn't mean we should stop looking for it and trying to stop it. It seems that Q would prefer we sit back and do nothing and wait to be attacked again.

Qtec
08-27-2004, 06:29 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> Actually it sounds like blaming the victim to me. It's the same tired old line. If the US didn't support Israel, we wouldn't be targets for terrorism.
<font color="blue"> To deny that the Palestine situation has got nothing to do with Arab resentment towards the US is to deny reality. Its the main reason of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. That, and interfering in the politics of other countries.ie proping up unpopular regimes.Iraq was one of them.</font color>

Clinton did force Israel to make a peace, and Arafat agreed to it. He then went right home and started an intifada that has gone on for 4 years.
<font color="blue"> Sorry, thats just not true. The latest intifada started when Sharon went to the Temple Mount. </font color>

I have decided not to second guess the FBI on their investigations. If they choose to increase security at a bridge, I don't mind. In this instance, they may have netted someone, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. <font color="blue"> We will! </font color>

As far as imaginary attacks, terrorist on a subway or a demolition of a bridge, I can't say which would be worse, only that they both would be very bad. <font color="blue"> Agreed. </font color>

-CM <hr /></blockquote>

eg8r
08-27-2004, 06:35 AM
Sure Q. We sometimes forget that you are able to read the minds of every person on the planet. Wow, you see a picture and you just know exactly what the photographer is thinking when they took the picture. There is no chance the guy could be looking to see how devasting his action could be, he just likes looking at people.

I am willing to bet your twisted mind would think the same thing if someone caught Michael Jackson taking pictures of a bunch of kids in a playground.

eg8r

eg8r
08-27-2004, 06:38 AM
LOL, that is the funniest thing I have ever read. I had no idea you were into political comedy. This whole time I thought you were serious.

eg8r

highsea
08-27-2004, 11:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr><font color="blue"> To deny that the Palestine situation has got nothing to do with Arab resentment towards the US is to deny reality. Its the main reason of anti-Americanism in the Arab world.</font color><hr /></blockquote>I never said it "has nothing" to do with it. But the main reason that the anti-americanism exists is the culture of victimhood that prevails in the Arab world. It's easier to blame someone halfway around the world than to take ownership of their own problems.

The current intifada started in 2000. Terrorism against the US predates that by quite a bit. I reject your "blame the victim" logic, as it completely ignores the phenomenon of Palestinian terrorism that dates back to the mid-70's or earlier.

I have to laugh when I hear people claim that the US was the only country supporting Israel. Of course it was the French that provided Israel with the Nuclear technology and weapons capability. This was completely in violation of the agreements the French had entered into w.r.t. nuclear non-proliferation, but the French are a bunch of whores, and don't care who they sell their weapons to.
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote qtec:</font><hr><blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr>Clinton did force Israel to make a peace, and Arafat agreed to it. He then went right home and started an intifada that has gone on for 4 years.<hr /></blockquote> <font color="blue"> Sorry, thats just not true. The latest intifada started when Sharon went to the Temple Mount. </font color><hr /></blockquote>I will quote for you an excerpt from a speech the PA Communications Minister, Imad Al-Faluji gave in Lebanon. [ QUOTE ]
"The Al-Aqsa Intifada emphasizes these principles and axioms. Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat’s return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton. [Arafat] remained steadfast and challenged [Clinton]. He rejected the American terms and he did it in the heart of the US." <hr /></blockquote>Sharon's visit to the mosque may have been inflamatory, but it did not start the intifada. Arafat started the intifada because he did not want to recognize Israel's right to exist.<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post):</font><hr>Yasser Arafat started the intifada in September 2000, just weeks after he had rejected, at Camp David, Israel's offer of withdrawal, settlement evacuation, sharing of Jerusalem and establishment of a Palestinian state. Arafat wanted all that, of course, but without having to make peace and recognize a Jewish state. Hence the terror campaign -- to force Israel to give it all up unilaterally.<hr /></blockquote>Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin was assasinated by a hard-line Israeli militant in 1995 for cooperating with US efforts to broker a peace in the conflict. The US has been trying for years to resolve the situation. In fact when you compare our efforts to the rest of the world, it seems like we are the only ones working towards that goal. The EU gives 270 million to Arafat. Of course this funds the intifada. Saudi Arabia gives 30 million. Many more millions are raised through "humanitarian" groups and the funds are funneled to Hamas (including the guy you made this thread about).

-CM

Ross
08-27-2004, 02:16 PM
Oh, I agree that we need to step up security. I agree that we need to make life as difficult for terrorists as possible, and try to stop them at every turn.

But the point I was agreeing with is that no matter how much security you have, you can never plug all of the holes. A "security only" approach can only go so far and is doomed as long-term solution (see Israel). And the fact that the US is not evenhanded in the Israel/Palestinian conflict does fuel a lot of the anger.

Sure Arafat is a jerk and a large part of the problem. So is Sharon. Brokering peace in these situations is very, very, very difficult. But it can be done. Clinton came close at camp David, but Arafat and Sharon both sabotaged it. Argue among yourselves about who was more at fault, but don't believe for a minute that either side did all they could to get peace going.

That doesn't mean you give up. The IRA Belfast tit-for-tat terrorist bombings and killings had gone on for decades and many had given up there - Clinton did what he could to help and finally brokered a peace there. Maybe he did it so he would look good - who cares, it worked. And security did not solve this problem - diplomacy did.

When Bush came to office there was a "Roadmap for Peace" that both parties agreed to. It wasn't perfect. In this case it was Israel who violated it repeatedly whenever it looked like it was going anywhere, and the administration was largely silent. At that point the Bush administration should have gotten very active and told Israel they were going to follow the "roadmap" or else they can get their annual $3,000,000,000 elsewhere. But Bushie's philosophy is that it is their problem and it doesn't affect us. What a joke! This wrong-headedness is supported by his second stupid philosophy: his fatalistic "well they've always been fighting so we can't do anything about it" philosophy, an approach which guarantees that we will never make progress on this front. If that was Clinton's philosophy, we would still be reading about car bombs killing shoppers in Belfast.

Someone will distort what I'm saying and say you can't make peace with terrorists, but that is missing the point. The Israel/Palestinian and our obvious double-standard toward Israel and the Palestinians very simply provides a lot of the fuel terrorists need to garner support.

But the US could get active again in trying to lead, prod, bribe, whatever it takes to get the two sides talking again. And show the world that we are not hypocrits and equally condemn both Hamas suicide bombings and Israel building settlements on Palestinian land and deliberately "collaterally damaging" Palestinian, including innocent women and children.

Before anyone responds with more info on something bad the Palestinians did, realize that is missing the point. No one is arguing that. The question is how do you break the endless impass of tit-for-tat killings that create so much misery for everyone, including ultimately the US.

The Roadmap for Peace spelled out the best solution that anyone can come up with. It was endorsed by both sides. Neither side gets all they want. Some on each side will try to sabotage it. Nevertheless, the US should be putting all of its weight behind this peace plan. If we had the standing in the world we used to have, we could have been leaders in getting the rest of the civilized countries to help put this pressure on. The French could be pressuring the Palestinians, the US pressuring Israel. I know, you can take a shot at the French here, but they have worked with us on many international issues in the past.

And the US should continue its security checks. It's not one OR the other. Take a two pronged approach - force and diplomacy. Bush is good at one prong, and a miserable failure on the other, IMO.