November 25th, 2009
Terrorists have been using stolen car rings inside the United States to fund and supply their operations for years, recent investigations reveal. Stolen cars are obtained inside the United States, particularly in Tampa, Fl., and shipped to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where they are then sold for profit or even used for car bombs in places such as Iraq.
Bill Warner, the boss of WBI Inc. Private Detective Agency in Sarasota, Fl., explained that Sami Al-Arian, who was convicted of supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, was linked to various used car dealers. Warner himself came upon the ring by discovering a car dealer on the west coast of Florida using tags that did not belong to him, at which point he tracked the shipment of cars to Dubai.
Warner also explained that the majority of the car exporters were Iraqi refugees, including some who had taken part in activities to overthrow Saddam Hussein, which failed after the U.S. declined to support them. “Shiite used car dealers who were exporting vehicles, operated out of the Port of Tampa and the Port of Savannah, [and] vehicles were purchased at salvaged auto actions and/or from street hustlers of recent stolen vehicles,” Warner explained.
“Stolen vehicles were disassembled, the engine and transmission taken out and then shipped with the hull of the vehicle packed in shipping containers [labeled] as auto parts and sent to Dubai, UAE,” he said. The disassembled vehicles get through U.S. ports because Vehicle Identification Numbers are not checked unless the car is fully assembled. Upon arrival, they were reassembled and sold at two to three times the price of what they’d be sold for in the United States.
Warner’s claims are backed by news reports quoting FBI officials who have warned that the lack of a national database of motor vehicle information complicates their efforts to stop terrorist activities. Warner provided a list of people involved with the network, including some linked to Al-Qaeda.
According to Warner, the informant that helped crack the network was never given the full reward of up to $5 million that the Justice Department’s Rewards for Justice Program offers for information leading to disrupting a financing mechanism for terrorists. He also alleges that the FBI is failing to dismantle the network.
“The FBI (who has overall control of the investigation) has done nothing to curb the shipments or to make any additional arrests,” Warner said. “The FBI wants complete control over any investigation into the used car scam run out of Tampa, Fl., [and is] excluding I.CE. [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and U.S. Secret Service, they will not share any information with other agencies, neither will the Department of Defense.”
Top terrorism expert Steven Emerson, director of The Investigative Project, confirms these networks are extensive and are important to terrorist operations. “The smuggling of cars to the Middle East has become a major cog in the terrorist arsenal. Either they are used to raise money for terrorist groups or in at least a handful of occasions, they have been used to ferry weapons or as actual suicide vehicles. There are several task forces that have been created to track down and stop this illegal smuggling. At this time, I am unable to say however, how successful the USG has been in dismantling the network,“ Emerson said, more from this source………