updated 8/30/2004 4:03:58 PM ET 2004-08-30T20:03:58

A man described as a high-ranking Hamas operative was freed Monday on a $1 million bond but must appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago probing the Palestinian militant group’s financing.

Ismael Selim Elbarasse was released during a closed-door detention hearing in federal court in Baltimore, said Vickie LeDuc, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office. His attorney said he was traveling to his home in Annandale, Va.

Elbarasse had been arrested after officers pulled him over Aug. 20 just west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge after spotting his wife recording the structure with a video camera.

Neither Elbarasse nor his wife was charged with any wrongdoing. However, Maryland authorities held him after discovering a material witness warrant had been issued for him in Illinois the same day.

Federal officials in Chicago want Elbarasse to appear before a grand jury probing the financing of Hamas, which the government has designated a terrorist organization.

“He’s going home, and I suspect what he and his family will do is stop keeping photo albums of their vacations,” said Elbarasse’s attorney, Stanley Cohen. A phone call to Elbarasse’s home was unanswered Monday afternoon.

Cohen said Elbarasse’s friends put up property to post the bond.

No date has been announced for Elbarasse to appear.

Court documents allege Elbarasse and defendant Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook — considered one of the highest-ranking leaders internationally of the Palestinian extremist group — shared a Virginia bank account used to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars for Hamas.

Elbarasse is described in Marzook’s indictment as an unindicted coconspirator.

The detention hearing, initially scheduled for Friday, was delayed when newspapers filed motions to keep it open.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm said the critical need to protect the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings in Chicago was the “overriding” interest in his decision to close the detention hearing.

Elbarasse, an accountant, was jailed for eight months in 1998 after failing to testify before a federal grand jury that was investigating Hamas fund-raising.

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