April 11, 2007

Mortgage Fraud Funding Jihad

The nexus between mortgage fraud and terrorism investigations. An excerpt from Front Page Magazine:

Tarik Hamdi was charged last year for immigration and mortgage-loan fraud as part of an investigation into the role of an Islamic charity, the International Institute for Islamic Thought of Herndon, Virginia, that Hamdi worked for and was being investigated for ties to terrorist financing. According to an August 2005 Washington Post article, Hamdi was personally responsible for delivering a satellite phone battery to al-Qaeda operatives for Osama bin Laden’s personal device, which was used to coordinate the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Hamdi was also responsible for facilitating an interview with bin Laden for ABC News in May 1998.

Last year a Dearborn, MI man pled guilty to mortgage fraud in a plea deal with federal authorities to prevent being charged additionally with terrorist activities. At the time of his arrest, federal authorities found books, posters and recruitment videos for the Hezbollah terrorist organization inside the home of Nemr Ali Rahal. According to the Detroit News, a picture was also recovered of Rahal tearing up an American flag. Rahal had fraudulently obtained more than $500,000 by falsifying information on a mortgage application. Customs officials had also stopped Rahal and his son the previous year for having military-grade explosive residue on their passports as they reentered the US from Canada.

In another Dearborn-area case, two men, Mohammed Krayem and Mahmoud Youssef Kourani were accused in 2004 of transferring more than $200,000 obtained through real estate fraud and cigarette smuggling to Kourani’s brother, Haider Kourani, the Hezbollah chief of military security for southern Lebanon. The money was to be used for purchasing military equipment from the United Nations Protection Force for use in attacks against Israel.

One of the co-defendants in the Sami al-Arian terrorism trial, Sameeh Taha Hammoudeh, pled guilty to three counts of tax evasion, immigration and mortgage fraud – the only crimes that Hammoudeh was convicted of after his acquittal on terrorism charges (Al-Arian later pled guilty to several terrorism charges and admitted his role in supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad). Had prosecutors not secured Hammoudeh’s plea agreement, there would not have been any basis to deport him back to Palestine. Even though he faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for these crimes, a US federal judge sentenced Hammoudeh to time served, five years probation, and waived all fines except $300.

In June 2005, two Dearborn-area men, Ahmad and Musa Jebril, were convicted of mortgage fraud charges after defrauding six banks for $250,000 and dozens of people of up to $400,000. The Jebrils were active supporters of Hamas, and federal authorities said that Ahmad Jebril was training a cell of local men to wage jihad against the US. Both Musa and Ahmad Jebril had been thrown out of their local mosque, where Musa had been an imam, for their radical activities. A local Muslim writer has described in an article for Beliefnet the climate of fear that the two men created in the Islamic community by their jihadist preaching and activities. The indictment also noted that immediately following the November 1995 car bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which killed four Americans, the Jebrils faxed a statement in support of the attacks to CNN. Subsequent to their conviction of mortgage fraud, the Jebrils and one of their associates were additionally charged by the federal government with trying to bribe a juror during their fraud trial.