A rocket fired by suspected al-Qaida terrorists at a Cosco Asia container ship as it transited the Suez Canal in August apparently hit a container crammed full of smuggled cigarettes, according to Irish Independent.
The illicit cargo, with an estimated street value of €4.3 million (about US$5.8 million), was destined for a bogus furniture company in Dundalk, Ireland. The smuggling operation was reportedly run by businessmen with links to alleged former members of the Irish Republican Army, according to Irish press reports.
The cigarettes are believed to have been acquired in Vietnam and were heading for Rotterdam, the Netherlands, when the Cosco Asia was hit by two rockets on Aug. 31. Footage of the attack on the Cosco Asia was posted on YouTube by a group calling itself the Al-firqan Brigade, a known affiliate of al-Qaida.
The container was due to be transferred to a feeder vessel bound for Dublin. A tracking device was placed on the container at the Port of Rotterdam and tracked by satellite through Dublin Port and on to a village near Dundalk in County Louth. Four men were arrested for suspected tax evasion, but were released without charge.
Irish police and customs seized 58 million smuggled cigarettes in the first six months of 2013.