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Ex-leader of mosque admits distributing 1.7 million pills September 4, 2005 - chicagotribune.com
The one-time leader of a Chicago mosque pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to distributing more than 1.7 million tablets of pseudoephedrine, the raw material of the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.
Tariq Isa, 57, of Cicero is the former treasurer of the Mosque of the Martyr Izzedine Al-Qassam.
He was charged with distribution after negotiating with an undercover government agent to provide 200 cases of pseudoephedrine pills.
Isa, who is Palestinian, was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in August 2004 after returning from a trip to the Mideast.
His plea Friday came as a surprise to prosecutors who expected his trial to begin next week.
He faces 17 1/2 to 21 years in prison for the offense, according to prosecutors' calculations.
Isa is the third leader of his mosque, which is also known as the Chicago Islamic Center, to be criminally charged.
Fellow Palestinians Ghassan Zayed Ballut and Hatem Fariz are on trial in Florida on a 2003 indictment that alleged they financed terrorists in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Ballut and Fariz are also charged with being members of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad.
Isa has not been charged in connection with terrorist activity.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Lisa Noller has said in court, however, that he was once photographed with Ramadan Shallah, the worldwide head of Islamic Jihad.
Isa has a history of drug offenses and was once convicted of similar charges in California, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Joe Ferguson.