Four stores, a residence and a mosque were raided in Henderson, NC for alleged fraud, distribution of the drug cathinone, and funneling money to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Henderson, North Carolina.
Henderson is a typical small town. It has a population of 15,850 and is located in North Carolina's Vance county, about 36 miles from Durham and 40 miles from Raleigh, the state’s capital.
I've had the pleasure of visiting Henderson myself. I spent a week there one day. Aside from being able to stop at the McDonald’s while driving through North Carolina, there’s not much to do.
One thing we have an abundance of in the United States is small towns. We think of them like Norman Rockwell paintings, quiet, quaint and beautiful places to visit for the way America used to be.
The last thing we think about is their possible connections to al-Qaeda, but that is what is happening more and more in small towns across the country.
The raid that occurred in Henderson made very little news, but is that really a surprise given our main stream media today? According to a local newspaper, the Henderson Daily Dispatch,
Henderson’s only mosque was a “place of interest” during a federal action that locked down four convenience stores and a residential property in Henderson for several hours Thursday afternoon.
Agents with the FBI, the ATF and the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement Division executed a number of search warrants, with county and city law enforcement support to maintain order at the search sites.
This was no small raid. There were at least 4 different Federal agencies involved along with two North Carolina State agencies and local law enforcement. They converged on 4 stores, a residence and a mosque with unmarked cars and a helicopter.
The Henderson Daily Dispatch explained the charges,
The FBI early Friday morning arrested Abdullah Ahmed Almuwallad, 32, and Mohamed Mohamed Nagi, 33, both of Henderson, on separate charges related to Thursday’s convenience store raids in Henderson by federal agents.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh remained mum on possible further arrests, but criminal complaint documents referenced additional suspects not yet arrested as having taken part in illegal activities charged in the cases.
Almuwallad stands charged on possession with the intent to distribute an illegal drug, namely Cathinone, aiding and abetting criminal acts and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Nagi stands charged with unlawful use, transfer and possession of food stamps, converting them to personal or unauthorized uses and with wire fraud.
According to World Net Daily,
Authorities suspect the stores were operating a so-called hawala money-transfer network supporting terrorist activities in Yemen, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, WND has learned.
Investigators suspect proceeds from cigarette smuggling and food stamp irregularities have been laundered through the Henderson stores to terror front groups in Yemen.
Well-organized Islamic and other cigarette smuggling networks generate between $200,000 and $300,000 per week in New York alone, found a 2008 House Homeland Security Committee staff report.
Okay, so we have 4 stores, a residence and a mosque. Who owns these places?
According to an updated article in the Daily Dispatch,
A spokesperson with the FBI confirmed the stores included Brothers Food Mart, Dabney Pit Stop , College Station and M-S & A&A market.
A law enforcement patrol car remained stationed behind Henderson Furniture Mart, near the entrance to Henderson’s only Muslim mosque.
Thoreson said the furniture store and mosque were not searched, but she confirmed that the mosque was a “place of interest” during the overall search operation.
She confirmed the search warrants were a part of a coordinated law enforcement investigation led by the FBI. “We have activity in that area,” she said. “This is all federal.”
The furniture mart and at least two of the convenience stores are owned by local businessman Abdo Saleh.
Thoreson said she was instructed to decline comment on whether Saleh was the focus of the investigation, if certain types of items are sought or have been seized, or if charges are pending as the investigation moves forward.
“That I cannot get into,” she said.
The Henderson mosque [was] opened early this year by Saleh who said he used resources from his established business enterprises to provide a mosque for downtown Henderson.
So, the furniture store, two of the convenience stores and the mosque are all owned by Abdo Saleh.
I figured since this guy wasn't arrested with his, oh, I guess we can call them “brothers in arms”, I would look him up and see what he had to say for himself.
Well believe it or not, all of these places were open for business as I called around looking for Abdo Saleh. I finally reached someone who knew Saleh's whereabouts when I called the College Station, one of the stores that had been raided.
To say this was a fun conversation would be a true understatement. The young man who answered the phone and was running the store at the time was more than willing to tell me all about the raid, the mosque and the Muslim community in Henderson, NC.
When I asked him his name he told me,
Oh this was too good to be true, I had to ask the obvious,
“Are you related to Abdo?”
He answered with a smile in his voice and was proud to say,
“Yes, he's my dad.”
I almost felt bad speaking with Yosef, he was eager to share his story. When he asked my name I told him I was a reporter for a website that does stories on Muslims in the United States. Okay a little bit of Taqiyya on my part, but what the hell. I never did give him a name, but he gave me his “dad's” cell phone number.
After getting Abdo Saleh's voice mail a couple times I called Yosef back, he was actually sorry that I couldn't reach his father and spoke with me himself.
Yosef said that the raid and arrests were probably “just because we are Muslim.” When I asked him about the drug “cathinone” he said,
“I don't even know if it's illegal here, where I come from in Yemen everyone does it. It's like chewing tobacco is here, it calms you down.”
Really? “It calms you down”?
The Daily Dispatch had reported in reference to the drug,
According to the complaint narratives, the Henderson Police Department on July 7 received a tip from U.S. Postal Service sources that boxes of controlled substances had been shipped to A&A Mini Mart, a convenience store owned by Almuwallad’s family.
North Carolina Crime Lab analysis confirmed the latest shipment contained more than 40 pounds of Cathinone, also known as Khat, a schedule I controlled substance.
40 pounds in just the last shipment? That's a lot of calming down.
So, once again our law enforcement received a tip, it wasn't just “targeting” Muslims.
I asked Yosef about the mosque and he said that about 30-40 people attend and when I asked him if he ever heard anything about terror or jihad there he said,
“No, as a matter of fact, the last time I was there we were talking about peace.”
Whew! That makes me feel better already, they are using this drug to calm down and talking about peace. Sounds like Woodstock to me.
The bottom line is this... North Carolina has a State Tax on cigarettes of 5 cents a pack. Michigan for example has a tax of 75 cents a pack. You do the math. Buy in North Carolina and smuggle to Michigan and make 70 cents a pack. That doesn't even include the price difference of the mark up when buying at wholesale in one state and selling them elsewhere.
Why Michigan? According to authorities Abdo Saleh is related to Saleh Saleh in Dearborn, Michigan. Why was that mentioned in one of the reports? I'm just playing connect the dots here.
As far as the food stamps, the Daily Dispatch also reported,
August investigations of Nagi included at least one agent-run controlled delivery of food-stamp EBT cards to an unnamed Henderson area informant.
One of the cards was later redeemed at the College Station Mart co-owned by Nagi. In much of October and November, controlled buys implicated Nagi in 11 EBT card purchases, with the cards being redeemed.
Values on the cards totaled more than $5,000, profiting Nagi about $3,300 after paying a confidential informant in the case.
11 Food stamp cards in 2 months netted Nagi $3300. Quick math tells me that would average out to $19,800. a year. How do you like the sound of that? A possible $20,000 a year of your tax dollars going to your (alleged) local terrorist organization.
Yes, let's not forget, we, the tax payers are footing the bill on those food stamp cards and this is from just one individual in small town USA. How many more like that are there?
Then again, let's remember that none of these people have been convicted, they were only charged and in the U.S. people are innocent until proven guilty.
I mean, it could be just like Yosef said, the arrests could be just because they are Muslims.