(JTA) — One of 16 Palestinians arrested in a cigarette-smuggling ring was linked to the 1994 murder of yeshiva student Ari Halberstam in a terror attack on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Muaffaq Askar, who was arrested late last week in New York in a plot that is believed to have cost the state millions of dollars in lost revenue, has long been suspected of supplying Rashid Baz with the guns he used to attack a minivan full of yeshiva students. Baz reportedly called Askar his “Palestinian uncle. ”
Halberstam, 16, was killed in the bridge attack.
“I was very well aware of Askar since my son was murdered and the role he played in my son’s case,” Halberstam’s mother, Devorah, told the Forward. “I know he’s been traveling to Jordan back and forth like a free man with my son’s blood on his hands.”
Baz, an immigrant from Lebanon, shot at the minivan on March 1, 1994, reportedly in retaliation for the murder earlier that year of 29 Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron by a Brooklyn immigrant to Israel, Baruch Goldstein.
According to reports, the proceeds from the smuggling scheme are believed to have gone to support Hamas and Hezbollah.