Two Flatbush, Brooklyn residents, Mustafa Sadeq Ali and Sadeq Hassan Ali, were seen on surveillance video storing boxes of khat in the Islamic Center of Flatbush, a mosque located right next door to their building.
Attorney General Schneiderman confirmed that the surveillance was the result of an ongoing terrorism investigation at the mosque. He said that the investigation did not yield any indication of terrorism.
It did uncover, however, a three layered international narcotics distribution ring, officials said, in violation of U.S. laws against khat sales and distribution, in place for two decades.
“We’re still tracking the funds,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, regarding the khat ring. “But we know it was millions of dollars.”
He said that officers from his agency and the NYPD arrested 17 people in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
According to the attorney general, the leader of the operation, Yadeta “Murad” Bekri, would ship khat in boxes to two UPS Stores in Manhattan. His two leaders in the U.S., Bayan Yusuf and Ahmed Adem, would pick up the boxes of leaves and send them to distributors, who would, in turn, store the boxes until they could make a sale, the attorney general said.
“It’s key to understand these networks and how the money flows,” said John Miller, the NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence. He said that, in his travels to Yemen for his job, he had personally observed the devastating effect that khat can have on people who use it. He declined to elaborate.
The drug trade in Islam is often used to fund terrorism. Khat has been linked to Al Qaeda before. So it’s possible that the mosque wasn’t just in the drug business.
It’s good to see that Bill de Blasio hasn’t completely crippled the NYPD. Yet.