Man arrested after wife videotapes Maryland bridge

| 8/25/2004

A Virginia resident was taken into custody recently after his wife was seen taking videos of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a Maryland official confirmed.

The man, who was identified as Ismael Selim Elbarasse of Annandale, VA, was recently named in a statement from the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Chicago racketeering and terrorism case.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, officially known as the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge, carries U.S. 50 and U.S. 301 across the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, MD. The twin structure is 4.3 miles from shore to shore, and runs from the Annapolis area across to the Eastern Shore.

Two off-duty officers from nearby Baltimore County said they spotted a person videotaping the bridge and reported it to local authorities, WJZ-TV reported. Kathleen Leahan of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police said that person was Elbarasse’s wife.

Officers questioned the couple, and then ran Elbarasse’s name through their computer, which showed he was wanted as a material witness in a federal case in Chicago. He was taken into custody by Maryland Transportation Authority Police officers, who also reportedly confiscated the videocamera from the Virginia man.

Elbarasse’s name appeared recently in a Justice Department statement about the Chicago case, which involves an alleged conspiracy to funnel money into Israel to finance terrorist activities. He appeared on a list of “alleged high-ranking Hamas leaders named in the indictment as co-conspirators.”

Elbarasse is now being held as a material witness in the Chicago case. However, he is not charged with any crime in connection with videotaping the bridge.

“You can videotape our bridge any time,” Leahan said. “We may stop you and ask you what you’re doing, but it’s not illegal.”

– by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor