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Afghan-American man remains in jail

Paul Henry

Friday, September 14, 2012    

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THE Afghan-American businessman who was held at the Norman Manley International Airport last week with large sums of undeclared foreign currencies, was remanded into custody when he appeared in the Corporate Area Criminal Court yesterday.

Forty-one-year-old Sohail Muhammad Siddiq is facing charges of breaching the Customs and Proceeds of Crime Acts.

The light-skinned, petite Muhammad Siddiq, who sported greying head and facial hair, was yesterday ordered fingerprinted and given a return court date of September 27. Attorney Peter Champagnie is expected to make a bail application on Siddiq's behalf then.

Magistrate Georgianna Fraser also ordered that the Crown serve the defence with the relevant documents in the case by the return date.

It is alleged that Muhammad Siddiq failed to declare Euro 313,500 and US$700 the police said was found in his luggage.

The court was told yesterday that the accused said he had come to the island to purchase cellphones.

Champagnie told the Jamaica Observer following the court proceedings that his client will be contesting the charges against him.

Muhammad Siddiq arrived on a flight from Panama, en route from Dubai, according to the police. He reportedly travelled to Afghanistan and South Africa prior to his trip to the island. He has been questioned about suspected links with terrorist groups in Africa and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Council of Jamaica has denied knowing Muhammad Siddiq, according to a police source. Radical Jamaican-born Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal has also distanced himself from the Afghan-American. Al-Faisal has been on an international watch list following his deportation to Jamaica in May 2007 after spending four years in a British prison for allegedly preaching messages of hate. He had been living in the United Kingdom for 26 years.

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