Stop Saying New York's Untaxed Cigarettes Are Funding Terrorism

Categories: Terrorism

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Jon Campbell for the Village Voice
A sheriff's deputy uses a special light to check counterfeit stamps on a pack of cigarettes.
The Wall Street Journal on Sunday published an op-ed on a subject that the Voice has been following for a little while: smuggled, untaxed cigarettes.

Titled "A Laffer Curve for Smokes," the Journal piece made the case that high cigarette taxes — like New York's — are actually resulting in less revenue for states that have imposed them. The piece, written by Patrick M. Gleason, director of state affairs for Americans for Tax Reform, also repeated a common argument about cigarette smuggling that doesn't seem to be borne out by the facts: that cigarette smuggling funds terrorism.

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Death on the Edge

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Illustration by Brian Stauffer
Early in the morning of August 4, 2013, Steven Sotloff walked across the border from southern Turkey into Syria. He passed through three security checkpoints, then a no man's land between the two countries, on a road surrounded by olive groves, yellow flowers, and leftover mines. Sotloff, a stocky, bearded 30-year-old journalist and Miami native, was headed to Aleppo, some 40 miles south, to cover the two-year-old civil war. He expected to be back in a few days.

The trip would be his last to Syria. He was thinking of returning home soon and maybe applying to graduate school.

Around 10 a.m., he met his fixer and translator, Yosef Abobaker, just inside the border. Abobaker arrived in a yellow Nissan microbus with his brother and two cousins, who would serve as security guards. The journalist took a seat on the middle bench and the Nissan drove off, but after only ten minutes, the vehicle stopped. Three black luxury station wagons were parked along the narrow highway. As the microbus approached, roughly twenty men, clutching Kalashnikovs and wearing black turbans around their faces, exited the cars and lined up across the road.

"When I saw them," Abobaker recalls, "I took my handgun — I'm thinking to shoot. But if I shoot, they will kill everybody."

The men yanked open the Nissan's doors and pulled out the occupants. "Who are you?" Abobaker yelled in Arabic. "What do you want?"

"Us kut!" one man yelled back. "Shut up! Don't talk!"

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A History of New Yorkers-Turned-Terrorists Since 9-11

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Fighters belonging to the Islamic State group in Anbar, Iraq
Update, 4/2/15: Two Queens residents, Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both American citizens, have been charged with conspiring to build a bomb and detonate it at an unnamed target in the United States. In a criminal complaint filed at Brooklyn's Federal District Court today, the two women, who were roommates at the time, were found to have bought four propane gas tanks, potassium gluconate, and Miracle-Gro, all of which can be used to make bombs. An undercover agent states in the complaint that the women "implied that their goal was to learn how to blow up a bomb from afar rather than conduct a suicide bombing."

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A Charlie Hebdo Free-Speech Rally Will Begin at 7 p.m. Tonight at Union Square

Categories: Terrorism

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From the website of Charlie Hebdo
A French expat is organizing a rally in Union Square in support of free speech and to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine targeted in a terrorist attack earlier today.

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Two New Yorkers Are Charged With Trying to Provide Cold-Weather Gear to the Taliban and Al Qaeda

Categories: Terrorism

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Photo Credit: Ruben Andre Karlsen via Compfight cc
On Tuesday two New Yorkers were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of conspiring to provide support to terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. Humayoun Ghoulan Nabi, 27, of Elmhurst, Queens, and Ismail Alsarabbi, 32, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, face up to seven years each if convicted. According to the criminal complaint, it was the work of a confidential informant that unraveled the plot to supply cold-weather gear to combatants in the region.

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Al-Qaeda's Magazine Editor Arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court Today

Categories: Terrorism

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Flickr/Magharebia
Anwar Al-Awlaki, Babafemi's boss at Inspire, was killed in a drone strike in 2011.
A Nigerian man connected with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula appeared in a Brooklyn court today. Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi, 33, was arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court today on charges of providing material support to Al-Qaeda in Yemen, recruiting new members in Nigeria, and helping to run the organization's English-language lifestyle magazine/propaganda machine, Inspire.

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Three Members of Al-Shabaab, The Group Behind Nairobi Mall Attack, To Be Tried In N.Y.

Categories: Terrorism

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CNN via YouTube
When Ali Yasin Ahmen, Madhi Hashi, and Mohamed Yusef appeared in the Brooklyn courthouse last December, people were confused.

They were confused because the men were Somali; two of them had Swedish citizenship and the other held citizenship in the U.K. They were apprehended in Africa, en route to Yemen.

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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: Mayoral Candidates Don't Understand Terrorists' "Enduring Obsession With New York"

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Ray Kelly
The new mayor, whoever he or she may be, isn't even the mayor yet, but that hasn't stopped NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly from accusing that person of being soft on terrorism. In a speech before the Association For a Better New York's Council on Foreign Relations, he complained that none of the candidates have asked for a terrorism briefing from him, and claimed that the "threat of terrorism" in New York "is as great, if not greater, today than it was before the World Trade Center was destroyed."

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Convicted Eco-Terrorist, Rockaway Native Daniel McGowan, Back in NYC After Prison Release

Categories: Terrorism
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Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan, a 38-year-old environmental activist from Queens, was released yesterday from prison in Terra Haute, Indiana. He served seven years in the prison's Communications Management Unit, largely cut off from society, after attempting to burn down two Oregon lumber companies, Superior Lumber and Jefferson Poplar Farms, in 2001.

According to the New York City Anarchist Black Cross, McGowan was greeted in Indiana by his wife, whom he was permitted to hug for the first time since being transferred to the Communications Management Unit in Indiana. 

McGowan was chiefly affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front, a sprawling, leaderless group of guerrilla fighters active in 17 countries around the world. They physically attack corporations through property damage that they deem are exploiting the Earth through things like logging, SUV sales, and urban development for profit. The FBI named the Front the country's number one domestic terrorist threat in 2001. No one was ever injured or killed during the Front's terrorist acts.


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Are Food Trucks Terrorist Threats? The FDNY Seems to Think So.

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We knew the Wafels and Dinges truck was too good to be true!

According to a recent PowerPoint presentation obtained by the research group Public Intelligence, the Fire Department of New York has been warning its members to keep their eyes out for food trucks of all shapes and sizes. The reason? Well, with more than 3,100 of these guys roaming the streets in large vans each year, a black market for permits is a viable reality. And what's synonymous with the black market? Terrorism.

Unfortunately, the presentation, entitled "Food Trucks: A Transient Hazard," makes a few good points. Sorry in advance but this is the kind of story that you wish you never heard.  


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