Man Linked to Suspicious Bridge Videotaping Released on Bond

By Scott Wheeler | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - The Virginia man picked up after his wife was seen suspiciously videotaping Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Bridge was released from custody Monday after a $1 million bond was posted.

Although he was originally questioned Aug. 20 about the bridge videotaping, Ismael Selim Elbarasse was detained until Monday because federal prosecutors have named him as a material witness and an un-indicted co-conspirator in their investigation of Hamas-related terrorist financing operations in the United States. Elbarasse is due to appear before a grand jury in Chicago that has already indicted three individuals for participating in a terrorist recruiting and financing cell.

On Aug. 20, Elbarasse and his wife were spotted in their SUV by two Baltimore County, Md., police officers. Elbarasse's wife was reportedly videotaping the 4.3 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the main span that connects Maryland's Eastern Shore to the Baltimore, Washington D.C. area. The couple also allegedly tried to hide the video camera when confronted by authorities.

There have been many similar incidents reported across the country involving Middle Eastern individuals conducting suspicious surveillance or study of vulnerable American targets. Anti-terrorism experts warn that these may be "probing attacks," meant to compile information for use in future violent attacks.

However, Arab anti-discrimination groups insist that after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Muslims have often been unfairly suspected of terrorist-related activities when those activities were totally innocent. Elbarasse's attorney has also told that the only reason his client's wife videotaped the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was because of her avid interest in videotaping famous American sites like the Grand Canyon.

During his brief detention by Baltimore County police, it was determined that Elbarasse was wanted on a material witness warrant that had just been issued. previously reported on Elbarasse's links to the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) which has been accused in the past of being a Hamas front in the United States.

Elbarasse, who served eight months in a New York prison in 1998 for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating terrorism, was seen on a regular basis and photographed by at UASR's Springfield, Va., office between April and early August when UASR moved files to an undisclosed location and appeared to be shutting down its identifiable operations. UASR records that included Elbarasse's contact information while he was in prison in New York State were also obtained by

See Earlier Story:

More Alleged Hamas Operatives Linked to DC-Area Think Tank

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