Skip to comments.Iraqi Accused of Smuggling Hundreds in Mideast to U.S.
Posted on 10/26/2001 7:49:10 AM PDT by freedomnews
October 26, 2001
Iraqi Accused of Smuggling Hundreds in Mideast to U.S.
By SAM DILLON
L PASO, Oct. 25 An Iraqi-born smuggler led hundreds of illegal immigrants from the Middle East across the Mexican border into the United States in the 1990's, prosecution documents filed in a Federal conspiracy trial here say.
The Iraqi, George Tajirian, who forged an alliance with a Mexican immigration officer, smuggled Palestinian, Jordanian, Syrian, Iraqi, Yemeni and other undocumented immigrants through Mexico and into the United States, sending them to wade across the Rio Grande or pass border checkpoints with counterfeit travel documents from Greece, Mexico and other nations, the prosecutors said.
Mr. Tajirian appears to have had no political or other agenda, and prosecutors have provided no evidence that any of the people he smuggled had terrorist ties. But prosecutors said he had paid little heed to whether his clients were criminals, merely raising his smuggling fees when he learned of such complications.
The record of prosecution proceedings against Mr. Tajirian and Angel Molina Páramo, the Mexican official who prosecutors say was a major confederate, suggest that America's Southwestern border has been a thoroughfare for hundreds of Middle Eastern migrants crossing illegally into the United States in recent years.
Mr. Tajirian, who is a naturalized Mexican citizen, was arrested in Miami in 1998, pleaded guilty to smuggling undocumented foreigners in a plea agreement that erased conspiracy and other charges, and is serving 13 years. Mr. Molina was extradited to Texas by the Mexican government this spring. A federal judge here accepted his guilty plea last week in a plea bargain, and sentencing is set for next month. Mr. Tajirian's wife, who is a Mexican citizen, and a fourth person accused in the conspiracy, a Lebanese woman who ran Mr. Tajirian's travel agency in Quito, Ecuador, are fugitives.
The documents pertaining to Mr. Tajirian's smuggling operations were presented to the court in the case against Mr. Molina and the two fugitives. Among the documents was one in which federal prosecutors said they collected detailed evidence on 132 illegal immigrants Mr. Tajirian smuggled into the United States from 1996 through 1998.
The prosecutors estimated that since he began to build his smuggling organization in 1980 he had led more than 1,000 Middle East natives across the southwest frontier.
Mr. Tajirian showed "no scruples" in deciding whom he would smuggle into the United States, Assistant United States Attorney J. Brandy Gardes wrote in a brief before Mr. Tajirian's sentencing in 1998. One citizen of Yemen whom Mr. Tajirian brought to America in December 1997 was wanted for genocide in South Yemen, the prosecutors said. Mr. Tajirian, the prosecutors said, was aware of this and, accordingly, raised his fee. A Syrian native who was smuggled across the frontier in September 1996 had a criminal record in Germany.
"The tightening of our borders and our internal security," Ms. Gardes wrote, "is a priority and the desire of the American public. The defendant's criminal activity, through its sheer magnitude and cavalier attitude, struck deeply at these goals."
In documents presented to the court, prosecutors said Mr. Tajirian routinely charged clients $10,000 to $15,000 or more. They documented earnings of $230,000 from 1996 through 1998, and estimated that he grossed as much as $2 million during that period. Prosecutors say Mr. Tajirian is 60 years old. He says he is 70.
Statistics gathered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service suggest that citizens from countries with majority Islamic populations seek to gain entry to the United States illegally much more frequently at the Canadian border than at the Mexican. Last year, American agents detained 254 undocumented immigrants, from 16 Middle Eastern countries, Sudan, Pakistan and Malaysia, at Canadian border checkpoints, according to the I.N.S. statistics.
By contrast, at the Mexican border, agents detained 90 undocumented immigrants last year from countries with majority Islamic populations: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Pakistan. The Mideast migrants were moving in a human tide that was overwhelmingly Latin. Some 99.9 percent of the 1.64 million undocumented immigrants detained at the southwest border last year were from Mexico and 16 other Latin countries.
The documents presented here detail more than any other case the nature of the smuggling pipeline by which illegal Middle Eastern immigrants cross the Southwestern border.
Mr. Tajirian, who was born in Baghdad, came to the United States and settled in Detroit, where he was convicted in the late 1970's for illegal possession of visas and served eight months in prison. Almost immediately after his release, Mr. Tajirian began building his smuggling network, prosecutors said.
He recruited Middle Eastern clients in Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Greece, the prosecutors said, and he established travel agencies in Havana and Mexico City as well as Quito. In a typical smuggling transaction, Mr. Tajirian would recruit his clients, arrange lodging for them in Greece, Havana, Quito and Mexico City, and eventually arrange for local smugglers in northern Mexico to bring them into the United States, usually at El Paso or Laredo in Texas or through Tijuana, south of San Diego.
Mr. Molina helped by arranging for Mr. Tajirian's clients to pass unchallenged through the Mexico City airport, where Mr. Molina was based as an immigration officer until his arrest in 1999. He also helped the clients make contact with local smugglers in northern Mexico.
Mr. Tajirian's lawyer, Francisco Macias, did not answer telephone messages left at his El Paso office.
8 Charged in Immigration Sting
CHICAGO, Oct. 25 A Chicago man charged with making fake identification for illegal immigrants nationwide helped the authorities in a sting that led to the arrest of eight people. United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said that the man, Joseph M. Kalady, 61, made fake birth certificates that were used to obtain Social Security cards and passports. Mr. Fitzgerald said each customer paid $5,000 for the phony documents.
A police report obtained by Newsweek calls Detroit a lucrative recruiting area and potential support base for international groups.
By Keith Naughton
NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE
Oct. 20 With one of the largest populations of Arabs outside the Middle East, Detroit and its surrounding suburbs have become fertile ground for terrorism fund-raising and recruiting. The Detroit/Dearborn area is a major financial support center for many Mideast terrorist groups, according to a Michigan State Police report obtained by NEWSWEEK. Southeast Michigan is known as a lucrative recruiting area and potential support base for international terrorist groups. It is also conceivable that sleeper cells may be located in that area of the state.
THE MICHIGAN STATE POLICE submitted the Three-Year Statewide Domestic Preparedness Strategy report to the U.S. Justice Department earlier this month, to help support a request for federal funds to fight terrorism in Michigan. A police spokesman says the report was not intended for public distribution.
Almost every major terrorist organization has operatives in Michigan, according to the report. Citing information received from the Detroit office of the FBI, the report says most of the 28 international terrorist groups recently identified by the State Department are represented in Michigan. Examples include such well-known terrorist organizations as Hizballah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Egyptian Brotherhood, Al-Gamaat, Al-Islamiyya, and Osama bin Ladens terrorist organizationAl Qaeda. The Detroit office of the FBI declines to comment on the report, which it has not yet reviewed, says a spokeswoman.
Those groups, along with domestic patriot groups
in Michigan, combine to create 374 potential-threat elements statewide, the report says. A State Police spokesman describes such elements as individuals or groups who could engage in acts of terror.
To raise money for international terrorist groups overseas, operatives in Michigan commit criminal acts the report says. It cites two arrests made last year in Detroit, which had direct links to international terrorist groups. In November, 2000, two individuals were arrested in Detroit by the FBIs Joint Terrorism Task Force for smuggling weapons and military equipment to Lebanon. Evidence existed that linked the individuals to the terrorist group Hizballah, according to the report.
On Sept. 17, the FBI raided a house in a rundown neighborhood in Southwest Detroit looking for a suspected associate of Osama bin Laden. Instead, they found three men and a trove of forged documents, including visas, a passport and 28 passport-sized photos. They also found a day planner with Arabic notations about the American air base in Turkey, the American foreign minister and the Alia Airport in Jordan. The day planner also contained drawings of an airport believed to be the U.S. military base in southern Turkey that patrols the no-fly zone in Iraq.
The man the feds were looking for in Detroit, Nabil al-Marabh, was arrested near Chicago a few days later and is now in federal custody in New York. According to published reports, Al-Marabh has been identified as an associate of bin Laden by Raed Hijazi, who is on trial in Jordan for the foiled plot to blow up tourist sites on the eve of the Millennium. Al-Marabh, a former Boston cab driver born in Kuwait, is suspected of knowing two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
In Detroit, three men are facing federal fraud charges in connection with the forged documents found in the Detroit raid. Two of the men, Karim Koubriti, 23, and Amed Hannan, 33, both Moroccan, have been in federal custody since the raid. Both formerly worked for at Detroit Metropolitan Airport as dishwashers for an airline catering service, before quitting in June to take truck-driving lessons.
A third suspect, Youssef Hmimssa, was arrested on Sept. 28 in Iowa. He pled not guilty to federal fraud charges in Detroit on Oct. 17. Authorities say Hmimssas photo appeared on a forged passport found in the raid of the Detroit house. FBI sources say Hmimssa is believed to have traveled the world using several aliases.
and to freeze all Visa's and to close down the boarders.
An Egyptian stowaway found locked in a cargo ship hold bound for Montreal is at the centre of a massive police investigation in Italy.
Security officials want to know why Amid Farid Rizk was travelling in such a strange way, carrying items that included cell phones, cameras, a laptop computer, an aircraft mechanic certificate, airport maps, airport security passes for airports in Canada, Egypt and Thailand, and a return plane ticket from Rome to Montreal.
Canadian authorities are trying to verify whether Rizk's Canadian passport and citizenship card are genuine.
Rizk, 43, a Montreal resident, is "accused of" having links to international terrorism, the Italian prosecutor Roberto Di Palma said yesterday.
This charge falls under a new law passed by the Italian parliament in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks in the United States.
Rizk is in police custody in southern Italy and can be held for up to six months while the investigation continues, Di Palma said.
Rizk's lawyer, Michele Filippo Italiano, has explained his client's unusual travel arrangements by saying he had a falling out with a brother-in-law in Cairo and was afraid he wouldn't be able to get out of Egypt, local media reports.
He also said his client had successfully completed a Canadian airplane motor mechanics course several years ago, which explains why he had some documents with him.
Italian police have been trying to unravel this mystery since they discovered Rizk on Oct. 19. They kept their find quiet until Wednesday.
A police officer walking the docks in the southern Italian port city of Gioia Tauro heard a sound coming from a container on a ship, which had arrived from Alexandria, Egypt.
When the container was opened, Rizk neatly dressed, clean-shaven, and not resembling a stowaway in the least, stepped out.
Rizk had been at sea for five days.
Among his possessions was a drill, which police believe he intended to use to break out of the container, which was locked from the outside.
Rizk reportedly owns a company that distributes newspapers in Cairo and speaks four languages: Arabic, English, French and Italian.
Inside the container, police also found three empty envelopes with an address in northern Italy.
As Italian investigators try to piece together the case against Rizk, Canadian authorities are beginning their own. They were notified just two days ago that a man with a Canadian passport was being detained on "suspicion of belonging to an international terrorist organization," Foreign Affairs spokesperson Reynald Doiron said.
"If he is a Canadian citizen ... we're going to ensure that he is duly represented," he said.
"If he's not a Canadian citizen then what will be investigated is how those documents were obtained."
Canadian consular officials haven't been able to see Rizk. Italian law states they must first get permission from Italian authorities.
I suppose the left would find this article to be "hate propaganda." They wouldn't even read it, because it may expose them for the idiots they really are. It would hurt their self esteem.
Darn liberals just have a way of destroying this great country step by step, little by little, inch by inch.
Fortunately they were not in the majority, and they are now largely almost completely silent.
I hope they have gone somewhere and reflected quietly for a few hours. IMHO, they are forgiven, but they ought to now get with the program for a wholesale closedown off all points of entry of the US (land, air, ports), and an expedition of deportation of illegal entrants immediately.
A massive project, but nevertheless one which must begin now before we get more anthrax, smallpox or perhaps a suitcase nuke in some downtown area.
POLICE REPORT: Apology on way for stirring fear, bias October 25, 2001 BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF FREE PRESS LANSING BUREAU CHIEF State Police Director Col. Michael Robinson said he will apologize today to Arab-American leaders for a State Police report that labeled the Detroit/Dearborn area a hotbed of support for Mideast terrorist groups. Robinson said the report raised unnecessary alarms and caused fear toward Arab Americans. A Newsweek story this week cited the State Police report as evidence that the Detroit area, with as many as 275,000 people of Arab descent, is fertile ground for terrorist fund-raising and recruiting. The report says 28 terrorist groups are "represented" in Michigan, including Al Qaeda. In fact, the terrorist references were a small part of a thick report to the federal government requesting emergency and disaster aid grants. Robinson said the report was not meant for the public. Among those asked to meet Robinson today in Northville is Nasser Beydoun, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn. "It's not that he has to apologize to us," Beydoun said. "It's more that he has to set the record straight, so people know our community does not harbor terrorists, or support terrorists." Robinson said he met this week with U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI officials about the terrorist threat. He said he was assured that Michigan is under no greater threat for terrorist attacks than any other state and said any large urban area is a potential target.
Actually, to their discredit, many conservatives have argued for a long time for open borders and more immigration, not less. Business interests (especially in the now-devastated technology companies) have in the past continually pressured Congress to up the numbers of H1-B visa engineers (rather than recruit and retrain US engineers.) Some of this has been due to libertarian naivete; some of it simple greed for profits.
Between the naive and the greedy on the right, and the liberals on the left who have wanted more Democratic voters, we've wound up with 6-8 million illegal immigrants alone - many of whom vote. Up till 9/11, the conservative strategy has been, "Well, if those illegals are voting for Democrats, we can at least try to siphon off some of those votes for us." The events of 9/11 have proven how hollow and self-serving those attitudes really are. It's a matter of national survival - the borders need to be closed, and all illegal immigrants immediately deported.