Jewelry chain suspected of Al Qaeda links

A Florida-based chain of jewelry stores operating in Pennsylvania, and possibly in other states, is being investigated by the FBI for possible connections to the Al Qaeda terror network, reported WPVI TV Action News in Philadelphia.

A series of raids were carried out Wednesday across the state of Pennsylvania, the ABC news affiliate reported.

The stores are mostly kiosks in shopping malls operating under the name “Intrigue Jewelers.” They are all owned by Pakistanis under franchise agreements with a company called Gold Concepts, based in Pensacola, Fla., Action News reported.

Intrigue operates stores at malls in Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Harrisburg, and Monroeville. Until recently, they also had a kiosk at the Lehigh Valley Mall near Allentown. Owners and employees of the Intrigue shops at the Gallery in Center City and at the Plymouth Meeting Mall were questioned Wednesday by agents from the FBI and INS, Action News reported. An employee at the shops in the Monroeville Mall tells us he was detained for hours yesterday.

Tariq Hussain says his home was searched and his computer was taken, Action News reported. He says the FBI accused him of funneling money to Osama bin Laden’s terror network. He says they questioned him about a photo he took two years ago of the NASDAQ building in New York, but he doesn’t know how they knew about the photo.

The man in the photos taken at the World Trade Center just days before the attacks also worked at the Intrigue Jewelry store at the Lehigh Valley Mall, Action News reported. Two days before the attacks Ashar Iqbal Butt came to a photo shop in the mall looking for the pictures. The clerk says Butt seemed anxious to get them.

He was picked up on September 12th and was later charged with entering the country on a false passport just a month before the attacks, according to the newscast.

Action News confirmed that Wednesday’s sweep is part of a nationwide investigation involving at least 60 jewelry outlets. The justice confirms that a number of people have been detained for questioning, but no charges have been filed yet.