Michigan Man Pleads Guilty to Supporting Hezbollah
Update: Fawzi Mustapha Assi was sentenced to ten years in prison on December 12, 2008.
Posted: December 10, 2007
A man from Dearborn, Michigan, has pleaded guilty to providing night vision equipment and GPS technology to the terrorist group Hezbollah in exchange for a 10 year prison sentence.
Fawzi Mustapha Assi, 47, pleaded guilty in a Detroit federal court to providing material support to Hezbollah on November 29, 2007. Assi was arrested in 1998 while attempting to board a flight to Lebanon, where he said he planned to sell equipment to Hezbollah. At the time, he had in his possession two Boeing global positioning satellite (GPS) modules, night vision goggles and a thermal imaging camera, according to court documents.
After his arrest, Assi allegedly told customs agents that the GPS modules were to be used to navigate unmanned aircraft to spy on Israeli forces in Lebanon. Shortly after his arrest, Assi was ordered released from custody and he fled to Lebanon. In 2004, Assi returned to the U.S. and surrendered to authorities.
Assi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, reportedly told the judge that while he knew Hezbollah was a violent group, he did not know it was a terrorist organization.
Two other charges - attempting to unlawfully export controlled defense items and failing to appear before a federal court hearing – were dropped.