(Subject's name redacted.)
CLARK: ... ... Anyone investigating "Terrorism Inc." Soon discovers that these gangs engage in about half a dozen favourite scams. There's the baby formula fraud, there's coupon fraud. But one of their all-time favourites involves American food stamps. Chicago. Like everywhere in America, the poor get food stamps for groceries. But crooked grocery stores will give cash for these stamps, usually less than half the value. Then the store sends the stamps to the government, and it gets reimbursed for the full amount. Wail S---- ran a $12.5 million food stamp fraud, then he disappeared, and authorities in Chicago never figured out where the money went. But this man in New York City says he figured it out. Private investigator Steve Rambam. He was hired to investigate an insurance fraud. His target? Wail S----. But what he discovered was a link to terrorism.
S----'s family claimed that he was dead, and they wanted to collect on the policy. Rambam had to prove that S---- was indeed still alive. The death certificate provided the clue. It was issued in the West Bank. Rambam then met with the Palestinian authority, and asked them about Wail S----. Surprisingly, out of the three million Palestinians, the authority knew exactly who he was talking about. What did that tell you about Wail S----'s connections and what the Palestinian authority knew about him?
RAMBAM: ...of course, one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist. This was clearly someone who was known to them, who...not only did they maintain a file on him, but they maintained an absolutely current, up to date, file. They told me ... where he frequented and where his hangouts were...that he was in Amman, and they told me that with great speed.
CLARK: And presumably they would only know this about somebody that they had been watching.
RAMBAM: Or cooperating with, frankly.
CLARK: Palestinian officials had given S---- a phony death certificate. Rambam connected the money that S---- was stealing to he political favours that he was receiving on the West Bank.
RAMBAM: It was immediately apparent to me that this was not just a very sophisticated fraudulent scheme, but it was possibly a fraudulent scheme designed to benefit a political entity.
CLARK: What political entity?
RAMBAM: In this particular case, it appeared to be a partnership between Hamas and a radical faction of the Palestinian authority umbrella.
CLARK: Once the Palestinians admitted that S---- was still alive and living in Jordan, the case was closed for Steve Rambam. But not for Wail S----. He resurfaced in Chicago and was immediately arrested and convicted of food stamp fraud. But the circumstances surrounding his arrest raised some red flags. He was carrying six pieces of identification, all bearing different names. He told American authorities that the Palestinian secret service had kidnapped him. Then he changed his story and said that his relatives had kidnapped him. He couldn't explain how he managed to get four passports while being held hostage. To this day, Steve Rambam is convinced that S---- was raising money. Did you have the ultimate piece of evidence that you could hold up and say, there is the connection between the two?
RAMBAM: No, but the fraud fit the profile. The Palestinian Authority intelligence apparatus kept tabs on him. It's not like we were going to find Mr. S---- with a Hamas ID card in his wallet. But everything fit.
CLARK: And does this fit extend to Canada? Fort McMurray, Alberta, October 12th, 2001. Two men are picked up by the RCMP. Emad and Yousef Hassan. Both in Canada illegally, both travelling with false documents, and both guilty of food stamp fraud in Chicago. The Hassan brothers made over a million dollars in food stamp fraud. US authorities have no idea where this money went. There are no charges against them involving the funding of terrorism. The Hassan brothers were not alone. This man, Mohamad Mostafa was with them in Fort McMurray. He, too, is on the run from American justice. He's wanted in California for baby formula fraud. Again, Mostafa is not charged with supporting terrorism. Clipping grocery coupons, redeeming food stamps from the poor, baby formula fraud. A far cry from the myth that terrorism is only funded from some secret overseas bank account. But closer to the reality of how "terrorism inc." really operates in North America. Funding million dollar acts of terror a nickel and a dime at a time. Now, the makers of baby formula are, of course, very concerned about the formula frauds. In a statement sent to W-Five, they urge parents with suspicions about their formula to call the store where they bought it or the manufacturer. And they go on to say in the statement we encourage all retailers to purchase only from reputable distributors. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: When we return. Searching for a killer. ... ...
LOAD-DATE: November 27, 2001