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Mom of Brooklyn Bridge murder victim: Cigarette smuggler involved in son’s ’94 death

Posted: 6:43 PM, May 17, 2013
Updated: 2013-05-17 18:43:22-04

Brooklyn, NEW YORK (PIX11) — Devorah Halberstam, who fought to have her son’s murder on the Brooklyn Bridge designated an act of terrorism, is enraged that an accused cigarette smuggler was still on the streets, 19 years after her 16-year-old child, Ari, was fatally shot.

“He went with Rashid Baz to the mosque, before the shooting,” Halberstam said to PIX 11 of Muaffaq Askar, one of the accused smugglers.  “Rashid Baz did not work alone!  He didn’t get the guns alone.”

Rashid Baz, a Lebanese cab driver, was the only person convicted for the March 1, 1994 shooting on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Baz admitted he used an Uzi submachine gun, a Glock, and a street sweeper to spray bullets at a white van carrying 15 yeshiva students, who had just visited a Manhattan hospital to pray for their ailing Grand Rebbe.

Ari Halberstam was immediately declared “brain dead.”  Another student, Nachum Sosonkin, suffered serious brain injuries but survived.

Baz claimed, at first, he reacted with “road rage” when the van cut him off.  But years later, he admitted the shooting was an act of revenge, after an Israeli settler shot up a mosque in Hebron in 1994, killing 29 Arabs who were praying there.

Muaffaq Askar testified at Baz’s trial that he saw Baz remove his weapons from the trunk and put them on the front seat of his blue Chevy not long before the shooting.

No one was ever prosecuted for being an accomplice.

Askar has continued to visit Baz in prison.

Some of the other suspects in the cigarette smuggling ring are said to have ties to the Hamas terror group, which runs the Gaza Strip and seeks to have Israel eliminated as a nation.

“Terrorists need funding,” Halberstam noted to PIX 11.  “And they get their funding from ordinary, criminal behavior.  Like in the Mafia!”