Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Enemy Within

Maybe it's because I once lived in Brooklyn. Maybe it's because I used to go back there to shop at an Arab-owned store, belonging to a recent immigrant, when I couldn't find the things I needed in the suburb I lived in. Or maybe it's because these shop owners weren't like the ones who came before them, the ones who boasted about the fact that a lot of their customers were Israelis who came to buy the Middle Eastern foods of their childhoods. Maybe that's the reason why this story didn't surprise me.

NY 1 News:

"The owner of a Brooklyn ice cream shop was convicted of illegally funneling millions of dollars overseas in connection with a major terrorism investigation.

A jury has found Abad Elfgeeh guilty of transferring more than $21 million without a license, using bank accounts linked to his Brooklyn storefront.

Prosecutors say a Yemeni cleric used Elfgeeh's store to funnel money to the Al-Qaeda terror network and the Hamas militant group.

The cleric was convicted of suporting terrorism. Elfgeeh was not charged with any terrorism-related crimes.

Defense lawyers say Elfgeeh ran a non-profit community service. He faces up to 15 years in prison."

By now it should have become apparent that there are people living in this country who are using the freedoms afforded them as a means to undermine our society. In some cases they're terrorist sympathizers, in some cases they're active supporters, and they pose a serious threat to our way of life.

I don't know the reason why the shop owner wasn't charged with any terrorist-related crimes. Was he unaware that the money was being funneled to terrorist organizations? Apparently so, although one can't help but think that the Yemini cleric chose his shop for a reason. After all, if he really wanted to fool the authorities, maybe he should have found a way to channel the funds through a kosher deli. But, after the subway bombings in Britain, it's become painfully apparent that there are people living among us, taking advantage of everything a democratic, western society has to offer...and trying their damndest to destroy it.


At 6:41 AM, Blogger rockmother said...

Hmmm... We've all thought long and hard about this dilemma. On the whole, I feel that we need to guard our liberties, even if they are cruelly used against us.

What was the sign on a bombed-out shop in London during the blitz? "MORE Open Than Usual".

Keeping our liberties is a form of defiance and is another blow against the ideology and aims of terrorism - if not its specific and despicable acts.

Not an easy one. I look forward to others' comments. It's a very worthwhile debate and goes to the heart of the struggle.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

" In some cases they're terrorist sympathizers, in some cases they're active supporters, and they pose a serious threat to our way of life."

It will take many years to weed these guys out. The hard part is telling who is who.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Intresting Post. I am New Yorker so I can relate

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Rory said...

Rockmother, there's no doubt democracies are being confronted with a serious dilemma that requires a very difficult balancing act. On the one hand, we don't want to compromise our liberties, but, on the other hand, the stakes are very high and we can't afford to get it wrong.

Gindy, I agree and that's part of the dilemma.

Jeff, thanks. I think a lot of New Yorkers still feel somewhat vulnerable after 9/11 and while the city has rebounded, it's hard to forget that al-Qaeda still has that bullseye painted on our backs.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Esther said...

Great post, Rory! This is such a scary part of what we're facing today with our war against Islamists. A delicate balance indeed.

At 1:24 PM, Blogger birdwoman said...

I think the hardest part for all of us collectively to understand is WHY? I mean, for goodness sakes, if you don't like our way of life, please, just LEAVE!

I just don't get these people.


At 2:41 PM, Blogger Rebekah said...

Great blog. I wonder how long liberals will stay in denial and refuse to believe "there is no terrorist threat"? Even 9-11 didn't wake them up. Unbelievable.

BTW, I hope you can visit my blog

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

And how many of these dangerous ones are among us?

The threat and reality of infiltration are causing some of us to be more closed in our dealings with Arab-owned businesses. For example, a friend of mine, a former flight attendant, used to be so open; now, since 9/11, she will not buy a carpet from an Arab-owned shop. I never thought I'd see the day when my friend, one of the least biased individuals on the planet, would adopt such an attitude. But she has told me that she's just not sure as to where the money goes.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I couldn't care less if he knew what the money wa being used for or not. If you have people asking to use your business to launder millions of dollars, you'd better find out what the hell the money is being used for. No sympathy from this side. String him up.

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous felis said...

Unfortunately, we have these people among us as well.

I am not sure what is the current immigration policy but knowing the PC attitude among our public servants I am not cery optimistic.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger drummaster2001 said...

i don't remember who said it, but they labeled liberals as being non believers in a terrorist threat. truthfully, it is any ignorant people (of any political ideology) who either choose not to acknowledge this or just people who are not educated enough from the news.

on a side note, these operations have been going on for years now. i remember a story on the news about an undercover cop infiltrating a mosque (i think) for a year getting information about this same thing. the suspects were arrested.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Batya said...

Can't trust them. One never knows where one's money is really going.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Batya said...

Can't trust them. One never knows where one's money is really going.

At 11:56 PM, Blogger Rory said...

Esther, thanks so much. I agree we'll be wrestling with these issues for many years to come.

Birdwoman, neither do I and I think our inability to comprehend the mindset of a true religious fanatic is what puts us at a distinct advantage.

Rebekah, thanks so much. I think the problem with some of the people you're talking about is they're more concerned with what they consider to be the "root causes" and that usually means the blame isn't going to be placed where it belongs.

AOW, I understand exactly how your friend feels because that's what my mother used to tell me every time I went into one of those stores. I guess the unfortunate thing is that there are some good people who'll suffer as a result.

Mark, the shop owner definitely committed a serious criminal offense, which is why he was sentenced to 15 years in jail. But I think it adds another dimension when the money is headed for the coffers of some terrorist group that wants to level another skyscraper.

Felis, I do know that there have been a number of restrictions added to our immigration laws after 9/11. Unfortunately, they've resulted in some bizarre situations like when Shaul Mofaz, who was then Chief of Staff of the IDF, was denied a visa to come to the U.S. to speak at a conference on terrorism...because he was born in Iran.

Drummaster, I can tell you for certain that there are some of us liberals who definitely recognize that there's terrorist threat, but I suspect that the ones who don't are being blinded by their ideology.

You're right about the operations that have been going on. Also, people should be aware of the fact that things like bootleg cigarettes and Rolex knock-offs are a source of revenue for terrorist organizations.

Batya, I would have to agree that's a reality these days.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger patrickafir said...

Yup. I am yet hopeful that Americans will confront the growing fifth column of jihad before matters reach a European level, but every day that operate freely is not only dangerous, but it's an insult to all who love this country and those who have died for it.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Rory said...

Patrick, I'm definitely with you on this. What's happening in Europe these days gives me nightmares.


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