State and federal authorities are investigating whether a New Jersey man charged with smuggling flu vaccine into the country is involved in terrorist-related activities, says the Newark Star-Ledger. The New Jersey State Police detailed the investigation of Mahmoud Abuarqoub yesterday to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new computer database that connected Abuarqoub to three incidents beginning in September 2003 when New York City police noticed someone videotaping the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The database, known as the Statewide Intelligence Management System or SIMS, is used to collect and share information on seemingly unrelated criminal activities statewide. State officials hope the system, which already has 500,000 entries dating to the 1960s, will be used by every county and local law enforcement department; they offer software and training free.
Cape May County, cracked an immigration fraud ring involving Abuarqoub in which U.S. citizens would marry foreigners in return for money. In September, Abuarqoub tried to sell about 20,000 doses of flu vaccine imported from Saudi Arabia to a hospital near his home. Abuarqoub’s attorney said he was unaware of any connection that Abuarqoub has with a terrorist-related plot or group. “His actions are completely inconsistent in the way a terrorist would act,” said attorney Rocco Cipparone.