Was this a means to finance the jihad? “Ex-Mosque leader pleads guilty to meth chemical distribution,” from Daily Southtown, with thanks to Ruth King:
A former leader of a Southwest Side mosque where other leaders have been linked to international terrorism pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges he tried to distribute massive quantities of a chemical used to make methamphetimine.
Tariq Isa of Cicero admitted he conspired to buy more than 1.7 million tablets of pseudoephedrine. In his guilty plea, the 57-year-old Palestinian-American admitted he knew the substance would be used to manufacture a narcotic.
Isa is the former treasurer of the Chicago Islamic Center, also known as the Mosque of the Martyr Izzedine Al-Qassam, at 3358 W. 63th St. Two other former leaders at the mosque “” Ghassan Ballut and Hatem Fariz “” are currently on trial in Tampa, Fla., on federal terrorism charges they supported the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The charges against Isa do not mention terrorism. But at a hearing last summer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Noller noted Isa’s ties to the other two mosque leaders and said he had been photographed with the international head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Noller added that at one point Ballut, Fariz and Isa were the only three men who controlled the mosque’s bank account.
According to the charges, Isa arranged with a confidential government informant and a co-conspirator to buy hundreds of cases of psuedoephedrine, dubbed “medicine” by the men. Isa was arrested when he tried to pay for part of the shipment with $66,000 in cash stuffed in a shoe box.
Pseudoephedrine, a common ingrediant in cold medications, is legal to buy in small quantities. But the chemical is heavily regulated because of its necessary use in the making of meth.
Court records show that Isa also was investigated by agents of the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents for suspicion of cigarette smuggling. A search of his home in 2002 turned up equipment used to make counterfeit stamps indicating local cigarette sales taxes had been paid.