Rhode Island: Muslim accountant pleads guilty in $1.2M cigarette smuggling ring

via Accountant admits cigarette tax conspiracy | The Providence Journal.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –- A Pawtucket accountant has pleaded guilty of conspiring to bring $1.2 million worth of contraband cigarettes to Rhode Island from Virginia, where the cigarette tax is low.

Bassam Kiriaki, 46, also admitted conspiring to defraud the food stamp program, it was announced Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha. Kiriaki issued the pleas Monday in U.S. District Court.

In addition, at the time of his guilty plea, Kiriaki admitted to the court that he participated in a conspiracy and that he filed fraudulent documents with the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service so that a convenience store owned by a co-conspirator could maintain participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as an approved vendor, even though the store had been previously disqualified. The documents intentionally misrepresented the true owners of the business.

Bassam is to be sentenced on June 6. Each charge is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The FBI press release of the indictment notes he wasn’t alone:

The indictment charges Wissam Khalil, 40, of Central Falls, a Providence convenience store owner; his brothers Bassam Khalil, 48, and Najd Khalil, 25, of Pawtucket; Abdullah Alnahas, 36, of Cranston, a Providence convenience store owner; Bassam Kiriaki, 45, a Pawtucket accountant; and Richard Larrain, 23, of Providence, an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves, with allegedly participating in a conspiracy to possess, transport, and distribute contraband cigarettes in Rhode Island.

A seventh defendant, Valeria Mendez (Khalil), 30, of Central Falls, wife of Wissam Khalil, is charged with conspiring to make and making false statements to a government official.

How far removed are these types of arrests in the U.S. from Tunisia’s Informal Street Vendor Economy Said To Be Source Of Terrorist Funding

The cigarette peddler stands on a downtown street corner, walled in by a small fortress of stacked cigarette cartons. The cigarettes, he says, come from Algeria. “They’re smuggled,” he adds, matter-of-factly.

There is a confirmed relationship between smuggling and terrorism,” observed Mokhtar Ben Nasser, a retired colonel and former spokesperson for the Tunisian military.

Militants and smugglers work together, Ben Nasser said. Militants offer the smugglers protection, sometimes in the form of extortion, in addition to demand for their supplies. Smugglers provide food, equipment, untraceable cash and knowledge of unguarded routes in the country’s interior and across borders.

Militants and smugglers have shared interests,” Ben Nasser said.

While jihadist violence may be a relatively recent phenomenon in Tunisia, funding radical Islamist campaigns through smuggling is not. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has been known to smuggle vehicles, arms and people for money. Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former AQIM leader who went on to found his own spinoff group and attack the In Amenas oil facility in Algeria last year, was famous enough for his cigarette smuggling to earn the nickname Mr. Marlboro.

Such cigarettes and other wares make their way onto the streets of Tunis in larger numbers now partially because the lower prices appeal to down-and-out consumers.

Cigarette smuggling is absolutely huge in the U.S. as well. Consider that 56.9 percent of all cigarettes sold in New York were illegally imported from out of state sources.

And who’s doing the smuggling?

To put all the pieces together, read this previous post:  How Cigarette Smuggling Finances Jihad and Insurgency Worldwide.


Rhode Island: 3 more Muslims plead guilty in $3 million food-stamp fraud

via Last 3 of 11 retailers charged in food-stamp fraud plead guilty | providencejournal.com

PROVIDENCE — The last 3 of 11 convenience store retailers charged in a federal food-stamp scam pleaded guilty Friday and now face possible prison time, federal officials say.

Asra Qadir and Waqif Qadir, owners of Express Food Mart, in Warwick, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the food-stamp program, as did Amir Rasheed, owner of Step & Go convenience store, in Providence. All three are scheduled to be sentenced in May.

The arrest of all 11 suspects resulted from a two-year federal investigation into food-stamp fraud, first announced in September. Officials said the fraud resulted in the theft of more than $3 million from the program designed to provide food to many of the state’s neediest residents.

The merchants allegedly allowed food-stamp recipients to trade their benefits for cash. In exchange, the merchants are accused of adding a substantial surcharge for the illegal service, frequently as much as the cash that was dispensed. Under federal law, food stamps are not allowed to be used to get cash, tobacco products or other goods with no nutritional benefits.

All 11 convenience store retailers have now pleaded guilty, officials say, and some sentencing has begun.

In December, federal U.S. District Judge Mary M. Lisa sentenced Cristina Ramirez, owner of Cristina’s Market , in Providence, to 12 months in prison and ordered her to pay $399,000 in restitution to the food-stamp program.

That same month, Lisi also sentenced Glenda Lopez, owner of the Dugout convenience store, in Providence, to 18 months in federal prison and ordered her to pay $398,000 in restitution to the food-stamp program.

Six other suspects are awaiting sentencing. Officials identified them as:

Mashhod Afzal, an employee at Stop & Go, in Providence, and the store’s manager, Karuna Mehta.

Mohamad Barbour, manager of Corner Store, in Providence, and that store’s owner, Mustafa Al Kabouni.

Mohammad Amir Al Kabouni and Muhammad Eid Al Kabouni, employees of the Regency Mart convenience store, in Providence.

Previous arrests here.

Rhode Island: Three Mohamads arrested in $3 million food-stamp fraud bust

via 9 Providence merchants accused of stealing $3 million in food-stamp fraud | The Providence Journal.

PROVIDENCE — A two-year federal investigation into food-stamp fraud has resulted in nine merchants involved withfive convenience stores in the city being charged in connection with the theft of more than $3 million from the program designed to provide food to many of the state’s neediest residents.

Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, announced at a news conference Thursday with a host of other federal and state officials the charges involving the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP.

The merchants allegedly allowed food-stamp recipients to trade their benefits for cash. In exchange, the merchants are accused of adding a substantial surcharge for the illegal service, frequently as much as the cash that was dispensed. Under federal law, food stamps are not allowed to be used to get cash, tobacco products or other goods that do not provide nutritional benefits.

“Some chose to line their own pockets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars at the taxpayers’ expense,” Neronha said.

He credited undercover investigators and the authorities who combed through thousands of bank records, tax filings and documents involving the stores that were seized April 1 through court-authorized search warrants.

The businessesare Corner Store, 549B Broad St.; Regency Mart, 3 Regency Plaza; Stop & Go Inc., 776 Douglas Ave.; Dugout, 97 Burnside St.; and Cristina’s Market, 524 Smith St.

Arrested are Mustafa Al Kabouni, 52, of Cranston; Mohamad Barbour, 53, of North Providence; Mohamad Amir Al Kabouni, 43, of North Providence; and Mohamad Eid Al Kabouni, 22, of Cranston. The Kabounis and Barbour owned or ran Regency Mart and Corner Store.

Also, Amir Rasheed, 33, of Flushing, N.Y.; Karuna Mehta, 43, of North Smithfield; Cristina Ramirez, 37, of Providence; Glena Lopez, 39, of West Warwick; and Farhan Mustafa, 37, of Providence.

Rasheed is owner of Stop & Go, while Mehta managed the store. Ramirez owns Cristina’s Market. Mustafa is accused of falsely filing an application with the government for the food-stamp program claiming that his corporation owned the Corner Store.

They have all been indicted by a federal grand jury or charged through information filings in connection with fraud.

Records filed in U.S. District Court in Providence show that Farhan Mustafa, Glenda Lopez and Cristina Ramirez have also signed agreements admitting their guilt in connection with food-stamp fraud.

h/t to Refugee Resettlement Watch who has this to add:

As is the usual case, the story has nothing about the immigration status of the perps.  Someone really needs to figure out through what program(s) all of these immigrants are using to set up the convenience stores.  I don’t think its a coincidence that ‘Mom & Pop’ groceries are increasingly owned/managed by foreign interests.

Where to report possible food stamp fraud in you town?

Click here for instructions.


Rhode Island: Muslim hate group CAIR cries wolf over backpack with punk band’s name on it


via Cops: “US Bombs” backpack in RI yard not a threat | www.wftv.com.

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — A backpack bearing the words “U.S. Bombs” was found this weekend in the yard of a home in Woonsocket, but police concluded it wasn’t a threat after determining the words on the bag were the names of rock bands.

The Woonsocket Police said Monday that a bomb squad responded following a call about a mysterious package in a residential yard. Inside the bag authorities found items that had been stolen from nearby vehicles.

Police say they don’t believe the backpack was left at the home intentionally.

The home’s residents are Muslim, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations initially called on authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

On Monday a council spokesman said he is pleased the incident was not motivated by bias.

A council spokesman should learn about Hamas-linked CAIR and ask why and how they were in his area.

Meanwhile, thanks to Muslims, the rights of Americans are being limited at venues all across the nation.


Rhode Island: Judge orders Muslim naval officer from UAE to pay $1.2M for slave labor

While he studied at the U.S. Naval War College, she was his family’s slave.

via UAE officer ordered to pay $1.2M to former worker – Salon.com. Hat tip Jihad Watch:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a naval officer from the United Arab Emirates to pay $1.2 million to a former domestic worker for his family in Rhode Island who accused him of forcing her to work long hours for little pay.

U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell in August ruled Col. Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali in default for failing to appear in court in a lawsuit brought by Elizabeth Ballesteros, who cared for Al-Ali’s family in East Greenwich when he was studying at the U.S. Naval War College.

On Wednesday, McConnell ordered Al-Ali to pay Ballesteros for forcing her to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and for what he called outrageous and inhumane conduct.

Al-Ali was previously acquitted of criminal charges.

Sharia prevails in Rhode Island, Muslim convicts to get halal meals

via RI Prisons agree to serve Muslim inmates Halal meals | Rhode Island Breaking News

Muslim inmates have prevailed in a lawsuit against Rhode Island prisons. The state of Rhode Island settled a lawsuit filed in 2008 with dozens of Muslim inmates agreeing to serve them Halal meals.

The inmates alleged in the lawsuit that the state of Rhode Island refused to provide them with Halal meals and instead forced them to eat only vegetarian meals, which does not keep with their religious practices. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines as specified by the Koran.

In the guidelines provided by the Koran, Muslims cannot consume animals that are not slaughtered properly, animals slaughtered in the name of a god that is not Allah, carnivorous mammals, pork or pork by-product, animals that were dead prior to slaughter, birds of prey, or alcohol. The strict policies on meat eating are part of the Koran’s teaching that animals should be treated well.

As part of the lawsuit, Muslim inmates also requested they be allowed to pray in a group and wear Kufi headwear outside their cell or mosque. The state rejected these requests citing security concerns.

The state prison is unclear how much meeting the dietary requests of inmates will cost.

Saudi student arrested in bomb threat at Rhode Island university

via Bristol police charge Saudi student in bomb threat at RWU | The Providence Journal.

BRISTOL, R.I. — The suspicious person arrested at Roger Williams University on Thursday was a Saudi Arabia man studying English, police said Monday. They had been called to investigate a possible bomb threat.

Lt. Steven Contente said Abdulrahman Khalid Althuwayb, 25, asked for food service at the dining center before it opened Thursday morning. A dining supervisor said that Althuwayb was served, and he was asked to come during business hours next time. Two university employees told police they heard Althuwayb say, “OK, don’t worry, today is the last day, and tomorrow I blow the walls out.”

Bristol Police took him to headquarters and charged him with making a bomb threat or similar false report. He was arraigned in District Court, Providence, on Friday. Surety bail was set at $10,000. He was unable to post 10 percent in cash or property worth the full amount. He was referred to a public defender and awaits a July 8 felony screening.

Althuwayb, whose Bristol address is 286 Wood St., is enrolled in the ELS Learning Center Program and attends courses at Roger Williams University. U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials asked that he be detained.

Photo credit: Bristol police booking photo of Abdulrahman K. Althuwayb


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