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Egyptian restaurant manager of 'Exotic Bites' in Hollywood FL nabbed for alcohol violation is terror suspect - updates

Police Captain Rode : "What is it with South Florida that all the terrorist suspects come here?"
March 3, 2005

Mandoah Ebaid is being held on a visa violation charge

MIM: Even more alarming than the inadvertent nabbing of another terrorism suspect in Hollywood, Florida who was 'hiding in plain sight' as a restaurant manager ( in the same town where Mohammed Atta had lived and directly across from the Shuckums bar where the hijackers 'partied' the night before 9/11) , is the incredulous reaction of Mayor Maya Giulenti who said:

"Why would you play your music that loud and bring attention to yourself? You wonder what kind of significant threat they are."..."You don't expect someone like that to be living in the community," Guilianti said. "I certainly hope this is the last one."

It appears that mayor Giulenti has forgotten that on the night before the 9/11 attacks Mohammed Atta drew attention to himself in a Hollywood Shuckum's restaurant, when he shouted " There is no money issue, I am an airline pilot" during a dispute over the bill.

"...Last Friday night Atta, Al-Shehhi and a third man spent hours drinking and playing video games at Shuckums, a Hollywood, Fla., sports bar. Atta played video Trivial Pursuit and blackjack with great determination. "He looked nervous," manager Tony Amos said. "He kept putting dollars in and he was really focused."

Al-Shehhi and the other man had about five drinks each, he said - - Captain Morgan rum and Coke, and Stolichnaya vodka and orange juice. At one point they argued. "There were a lot of hand gestures and Al-Shehhi was definitely upset," Amos said.

The bartender feared that Al-Shehhi might leave without paying his $48 tab. The manager intervened, asking if there was a problem. Al-Shehhi, glaring, pulled out a wad of cash and said: "There is no money issue. I am an airline pilot.'..."

In addition Hollywood and vicinity has played host to terrorists such as Jose Padilla, Adnan Shukrijumah, Adham Hassoun, Imran Mandi, Shueyb Moessa Jokhan, and continues to be home to countless others.

Hopefully, Mayor Giulenti and other city officials will pay more attention to the ongoing terrorism threat in their community then to the inevitable wails of victimisation and threats of discrimination lawsuits from groups which groups like the Council of American Islamic Relations, (a Saudi fronted front group for Hamas, which is als a defendant in a 9/11 terrorism lawsuit), will be making in reaction to the arrest of Mahmoud Ebaid.

Update: Ebaid, who has been in this country for 20 years, was "red flagged" on a terror watchlist and is being held on a visa violation. It is interesting to note that his resturant, which is "within eyeshot" of the Shuckums visited by the 9/11 hijackers, was opened in the week of the 9/11 attacks.

(In addition to being the registered agent for the Exotic Bites restaurant Ebaid's wife, Maria Flores, also registered two other businesses in 2004 neither of which was active.

One,the Young Circle Tabacco Shop, and is on the same street as the restaurant which Ebaid managed.The second was called the Harrison Street Fish and Chips Plus Inc.)

MIM: Information will be updated.

Latest reports show that Mamdouh Ebaid's also goes by the name Mandoah Ebaid and also used the last name Basyouny. He had a previous violation involving marijuana possession but the charges are dropped. His lawyer refused to specify the immigration violation charges against him.



Booze bust nets terror suspect
A man Hollywood police nabbed during an undercover operation is suspected of having ties to a terrorist organization.


It was supposed to be a normal police undercover operation: Look for alcohol being sold after hours in a downtown restaurant.

Instead, Hollywood police wound up with a restaurant manager suspected of being a member of a terrorist organization. "Who would have thought that we'd end up with an alleged terrorist?" said Capt. Tony Rode.

The arrest came about when Hollywood police began checking out a tip that Exotic Bites, a downtown restaurant, was selling alcohol after hours.

On a recent evening, two undercover officers walked inside the Middle Eastern restaurant at 1840 S. Young Circle.

It features belly dancers, hookahs -- 3-foot-tall water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco -- and homemade dishes including falafel, tabbouleh and baba ghanoush.

Two uniformed officers stood watch outside.

The intention was to catch employees serving drinks after hours. The club's liquor license allows it to serve drinks until 2 a.m.

The officers spotted manager Mamdouh M. Ebaid, 44, serving alcohol at 2:18 a.m. They also watched as he filled orders to two young people who turned out to be minors.

When the two youths left the restaurant, the uniformed officers asked for IDs. The boys were 16 and 17, said Hollywood police's Rode.

Cops moved in. Ebaid, of Hollywood, was cited for serving alcohol after hours to minors -- two misdemeanors.

When they ran his name through national databases, they discovered that Ebaid's name had been flagged as having suspected ties to a terrorist organization.

No information was provided on which terrorist group his name was linked to.

Hollywood alerted the FBI. Border Patrol agents picked up Ebaid early Sunday and transported him to the Krome Detention Center in West Miami-Dade.

Authorities said that Ebaid, an Egyptian national, may have an immigration problem, but they did not provide details.

Ebaid called WFOR CBS-4 late Wednesday and said he was being targeted by Hollywood police.

"I am not a member of any terrorist group," he said to CBS-4. "I never have been."

He said his wife is an American citizen. Records show his wife, Maria Flores, is listed as the restaurant's registered agent.

"We're doing everything we can to find out what is going on," said Ebaid's attorney, Ralph Kenol of Hollywood. "I saw him yesterday and he gave no indication that he knew of any red flags. We're not aware of the FBI's interest in him. All we want is for everyone to be fair and being fair is important." Records show Ebaid arrived in the United States on July 17, 1984. He has worked at the restaurant for two years.

Co-workers say he has two children, a boy and a girl, co-workers said.

"He has never ever said or done anything that would indicate he was a terrorist," said Quintin Rodriguez, a chef at Exotic Bites. "He is a nice guy, a decent guy. I think they're just doing this because he's an Egyptian."

Exotic Bites is just a couple of blocks from the site of Shuckums, a raw bar on Hollywood's Harrison Street, that attracted several of the hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

Five of the 19 men responsible for the attack, lived in Hollywood at one time prior to Sept. 11.

"What is it with Hollywood and South Florida that all the terrorists come here?" Rode said. "Seems like they're always down here."

Chief James Scarberry sent a memo to Hollywood Commissioners alerting them of the arrest.

Hollywood Mayor Mara Guilianti said she had been lobbied recently to allow the owner to create a bigger restaurant at Exotic Bites.

She said she paid a visit to the club around 3:30 a.m. one morning to check it out.

"They were the loudest, bar none," the mayor said. "Why would you play your music that loud and bring attention to yourself? You wonder what kind of significant threat they are."

Guilianti said this is the second time Hollywood police have assisted the government with terrorists.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the city located the address where Mohammed Atta was living with several other terrorists.

"You don't expect someone like that to be living in the community," Guilianti said. "I certainly hope this is the last one."

Federal investigators plan to question Ebaid at Krome this week.

Herald news partner WFOR CBS-4 and Herald staff writers Jerry Berrios and Alfonso Chardy contributed to this report


Hollywood resturant manager on terror watchlist,0,867406.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines


Police said Thursday a 44-year-old resident cited last week on misdemeanor charges of selling drinks to underage patrons at a chic Young Circle restaurant is on a federal terrorist watch list.

Detective Carlos Negron, police spokesman, said investigators conducted a routine check via computer, which he said revealed restaurant manager Mandoah Ebaid's name was on a current government terrorist watch group list. The FBI and Border Patrol were notified and are conducting a follow up investigation, he said. No further information on the specifics of the watch list were immediately known.

Since then, Ebaid, an Egyptian, was picked up by the Border Patrol and is being held by federal authorities.

Ebaid, of Madison Street in the city, sometimes uses the name Mamdouh Ebaid, Negron said in a prepared release.

The incident came to light around 2:15 a.m. on Feb. 26, a Saturday, at the Exotic Bites restaurant and lounge, 1842 South Young Circle, when two detectives entered to check on possible licensing and after-hour liquor violations.

According to Negron, the detectives entered and ordered alcoholic drinks about 15 minutes after what should have been closing. They said they were served by the manager. The investigators said they saw what they believed were two under-age patrons inside the Mideastern-themed restaurant being served alcohol.

Detectives said they checked the establishment's liquor license, which clearly indicates alcohol sales must stop at 2 a.m., Negron said. Police stopped two suspected under-aged patrons outside and discovered they were ages 17 and 16.

At that point Ebaid was charged with misdemeanor counts of selling or giving service to a person under age 21 and one count of selling or offering for sale alcohol consumed on the premises.


Hollywood resturateur on terrorist list is held on visa violation,0,5097290,print.story?coll=sfla-news-broward

By Robert Nolin
Staff Writer

March 4, 2005

Egyptian native Mandoah Ebaid made no secret of his ethnicity. For four years, he and his wife operated a highly visible Middle Eastern restaurant on Hollywood's Young Circle, complete with full Eastern menu, hookah water pipes and nightly belly dancing.

Now federal agents have seized Ebaid, who was arrested last weekend for serving beer to minors, after finding his name on a terrorist watch list. Ebaid, who turns 45 on Tuesday, is being held on a visa violation, an immigration official said Thursday.

Ebaid's attorney said the detention stems from an error. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office, which are investigating, aren't talking. Hollywood police, who made the arrest, said facts in the case are still too cloudy to come to any concrete conclusions.

Ebaid has lived in the United States for about 20 years, the past four in Broward County, said his attorney, Ralph Kenol. Undercover officers said they arrested him Saturday night after he sold alcohol after hours to two youths younger than 21 at the Exotic Bites restaurant owned by his wife, Maria Flores.

Three days after the arrest, detectives in a routine check found Ebaid listed as a terrorist suspect on a government roster. They called the Border Patrol, and he was taken to Krome Detention Center, west of Miami, where he remains.

"He's red-flagged on a terrorist watch list," Hollywood police spokesman Capt. Tony Rode said. "It's an FBI investigation at this point."

Kenol said his client is dedicated to business, not terrorism. "This is a mistake," Kenol said. "He's never been involved in anything that could possibly be interpreted as terrorist activity."

Ebaid also goes by the first name Mamdouh, and has previously used the last name of Basyouny. Those "unfamiliar names" could have landed him on the watch list, Kenol said.

The lawyer said he's representing Ebaid in an unrelated immigration matter that he declined to disclose. He has yet to speak with government representatives. The only government official to comment was Nina Pruneda of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Miami.

Ebaid, she said, was being held on unspecified charges as well as an "administrative" visa violation, which typically means a noncitizen has overstayed the limits on a visa.

Ebaid has two children, a boy and girl younger than 10. His wife, Flores, taped a two-paragraph statement in her restaurant window, defending her husband's innocence. "He is not a terrorist and has never been involved in anything that would hurt this country," she wrote. "He loves this country and the people."

Nicknamed "Manny," Ebaid enjoys a reputation as a friendly and devoted restaurateur among patrons and fellow merchants along Young Circle and Hollywood Boulevard.

"He's an incredibly hard-working person," said Jacqui Sovel, who runs a yoga studio next to Exotic Bites. "He's always been super helpful to me." She said Ebaid is at the restaurant most days from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

"He seems like a regular guy," said Delfa Nuzzolese, who owns the Corner Café down the street.

Residents near the quaint 10-unit apartment complex where Ebaid and his family live, several blocks from the restaurant, also described him as a pleasant neighbor. Court records show Ebaid's only previous arrest was in Miami in 1999 for marijuana possession. The charge was dropped.

Exotic Bites is within eyeshot of Shuckums oyster bar, which several hijackers patronized before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That was the very week Ebaid opened Exotic Bites, said his kitchen manager, Quintin Cortes.

"He's a very honorable man. He's very humanitarian," Cortes said. "There must be some mistake."

Government watch lists are prone to error, said Aaron Caplan, a lawyer with the Washington state branch of the ACLU who has litigated on behalf of those detained on terror lists. Often the lists include names drawn from e-mails or phone taps and lack dates of birth or even first names, Caplan said.

Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts has been detained several times at airports because his name matched one on the list, Caplan said.

"There's certainly thousands of people who are in a situation where their name is close to somebody's on the list and they get detained," he said. The ACLU is suing the government, demanding it release its criteria for putting someone on a list.

"The government is keeping that a secret," Caplan said.

As Exotic Bites reopened Thursday after being closed for several hours, Rode urged caution in the case. "It's too premature," he said. "I would suggest that people not rush to judgment and let the federal agencies conduct an investigation and see how the cards play out."

Staff Writers Edgar Sandoval, Ruth Morris and Ann W. O'Neill contributed to this report.


Fla. restaurant manager held ;name on terror list

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The manager of a Middle Eastern restaurant, originally arrested for local liquor violations, was being held Thursday by federal immigration authorities after his name matched one on a terrorist watch list.

The FBI and U.S. immigration agents are investigating whether Mamdouh M. Ebaid, 44, has any connection to terrorism. Ebaid, who has also used the name Mandoah Ebaid, was being held on visa violations at the Krome Detention Center near Miami, where he was taken shortly after his Feb. 26 arrest in Hollywood.

"He's being held on administrative immigration violations and the investigation is continuing," said Dean Boyd, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington.

Ebaid, an Egyptian national who runs the Exotic Bites restaurant and has been in the United States since 1984, called Miami's WFOR-TV on Wednesday to proclaim his innocence.

"I am not a member of any terrorist group," Ebaid told the station, according to WFOR. "I never have been."

No one answered the telephone at the restaurant Thursday afternoon. Ebaid's attorney, Ralph Kenol, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Ebaid was originally arrested on misdemeanor alcoholic beverage violations for allegedly selling two Hollywood undercover police officers drinks after the city's 2 a.m. time limit and for allegedly selling drinks to two patrons under age 21. Both violations are usually punishable by fines.

Hollywood police Detective Carlos Negron said Ebaid's name turned up on "a current terror watch list" after it was routinely entered into the FBI's National Crime Information Center database.

"We don't know if he has any connections to any terrorist groups. His name was on the list and that raised a red flag," Negron said.

The federal government's terror watch lists are drawn from a variety of sources, from foreign intelligence collected by the CIA to uncorroborated tips from local police informants. One common difficulty is determining if a person being detained is the same as the one on the list.

Miami FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela declined comment on the case.

The restaurant is near an oyster bar called Shuckums that was patronized by several of the Sept. 11 hijackers prior to those terrorist attacks. Five of the 19 hijackers, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, lived in Hollywood during part of their time in the United States.

"A coincidence," Negron said.

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