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Terrorism


Four Men Indicted in Philadelphia for Attempting to Support Hezbollah

Updated: June 16, 2010

Posted: December 1, 2009

Four men have been indicted in Philadelphia for attempting to provide Hezbollah with a cache of weapons and funds.

 

An indictment unsealed in a Philadelphia federal court on November 24, 2009, charged Moussa Ali Hamdan, Hassan Hodroj, Dib Hani Harb and Hasan Antar Karaki with conspiring to provide material support to Hezbollah.  Hamdan, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Lebanon, was arrested in Paraguay in June 2010 while the other three suspects remain at large.  They face sentences ranging from 15 to 30 years in prison if convicted.

 

"The allegations contained in this complaint demonstrate how terrorist organizations rely on a variety of underlying criminal activities to fund and arm themselves," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

 

The indictment alleges that Hodroj and Harb, both of Beirut, attempted to export machine guns from the U.S. to the Port of Latakia, Syria. Hodroj is reportedly a member of Hezbollah's political council and Harb is his son-in-law.

 

In June 2009, Harb arranged a meeting between an informant, based in Philadelphia, and an unnamed Hezbollah official to discuss selling firearms to the Lebanese terrorist organization, according to the indictment. After Harb and Hodroj agreed to purchase approximately 1,200 M-4s, Harb allegedly claimed that the Hezbollah official, who was currently in Iran, "emphasized the need for quick delivery of the machineguns."

 

Harb allegedly told the informant that the Islamic Republic of Iran manufactured "high-quality counterfeit U.S. currency for the benefit of Hezbollah." The indictment alleges that Harb, as well as Hamdan and Karaki, of Beirut, sold the informant almost ten thousand dollars of counterfeit money, the proceeds of which they supposedly planned to send to Hezbollah.

 

In a meeting with the informant in Florida in April 2009, Harb allegedly explained that Hezbollah representatives had been working approximately 20 hours a day to make counterfeit currencies, including those of the U.S., European Union, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The indictment further alleged that, in September 2009, Harb mailed a package to the informant containing approximately $9,200 in counterfeit U.S. currency hidden inside a photo album.

 

The indictment also charged that the men attempted to generate funds for Hezbollah by selling stolen money and fake passports. Harb allegedly told the informant in December 2008 that stolen U.S. currency packaged inside wedding albums was mailed to him. The following February, Karaki described the stolen money as "blood money" that Hezbollah had apparently received from Iran. During Harb's Florida meeting with the informant, according to the indictment, he negotiated the sale of U.S. currency stolen by Hezbollah supporters and smuggled into Lebanon as a "fund-raising tool" for Hezbollah.

                                         

Six others named in the indictment were charged with several counts of transporting stolen and counterfeit goods and making false statements to government officials. Since 2007, the six other defendants Hamze El-Najjar of Brooklyn, Moustafa Habib Kassem of Staten Island, Latif Kamel Hazime (a.k.a. Adanan) of Brooklyn, Alla Allia Ahmed Mohamed of Brooklyn, Maoda Kane of the Bronx and Michael Katz of New Jersey allegedly purchased and transported stolen goods, including cell phones, laptops, Sony PlayStations and automobiles.

 

The men do not face Hezbollah-related charges. Five are in custody in Philadelphia while Hazime is still at large.

 

The indictment followed a separate investigation in which at least 12 men attempted to transfer stolen goods and send anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanon by way of Syria or Iran. According to court documents, Lebanese national Dani Nemr Tarraf, the apparent ringleader of the group, paid an undercover operative $20,000 for machine guns and Stinger missiles.

 

Following his November 21, 2009, arrest in Philadelphia, Tarraf allegedly told federal authorities that he was conspiring to acquire a large quantity of weapons for Hezbollah. Court documents further purported that Tarraf admitted that he was a member of Hezbollah and had previously received military training from the Lebanese terrorist organization.

 

In addition to Hamdan, Hodroj, Harb and Karaki, several others have been indicted or convicted in the U.S. on terrorism charges relating to Hezbollah. The following is a sampling of those arrested or convicted in the U.S. for Hezbollah-related activities:

 

  • Patrick Nayyar of Queens, New York, was indicted in October 2009 for attempting to provide weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Hezbollah. Nayyar, an Indian national residing in the U.S. illegally, has pleaded not guilty to all counts. 

  • In June 2009, Javed Iqbal and Saleh Elahwal were sentenced in a Manhattan federal court to nearly six years in prison and 17 months in prison, respectively, for distributing broadcasts of Al Manar, Hezbollah's TV station, and providing material support to Hezbollah.

  • Fawzi Mustapha Assi, an automobile engineer from Dearborn, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December 2008 for providing night vision equipment and GPS technology to Hezbollah.

  • A group of approximately 20 men ran a criminal enterprise in Dearborn, Michigan of trafficking contraband cigarettes, cigarette papers and Viagra, as well as stolen infant formula and toilet paper. Prosecutors contend that the ring diverted some of the funds to Hezbollah. Naturalized U.S. citizen Karim Hassan Nasser pleaded guilty to racketeering charges in September 2006, as did Theodore Schenk of Miami Beach, Florida and Imad Hamadeh of Dearborn Heights.

  • Yousef Kourani, a Lebanese man living in Dearborn, Michigan, was sentenced in June 2005 to four and a half years in prison for raising money for Hezbollah to purchase technology equipment.

  • In 2005, at least 125 people were arrested in Los Angeles for selling counterfeit goods including designer handbags, DVDs and tobacco, in order to raise money for Hezbollah, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. A total of $16 million in knock-off items was seized, as well as $3.5 million in cash.

  • Dearborn resident Elias Mohamad Akhdar was sentenced in January 2004 to nearly six years in prison for his role in a cigarette smuggling ring designed to finance Hezbollah. Another Dearborn resident, Hassan M. Makki, received a sentence of nearly five years in prison in connection with the scheme.

  • In 2002, Dearborn resident Ali Boumelhem was sentenced to 44 months in prison for trying to send weapons and ammunition to Hezbollah.

  • At least three naturalized U.S. citizens Said Mohamad Harb, Bassam Youssef Hamood and Hussein Chahrour and U.S. citizen Angela Georgia Tsioumas are among a group of nine individuals who bought cigarettes in North Carolina, shipped them to Michigan and sold them at a price lower than the tax-inflated Michigan price. From 1995 to 2000, the scheme generated over $7 million used to procure dual-use technologies for Hezbollah. Items were reportedly purchased for Hezbollah in both the U.S. and Canada, including goggles, global positioning systems, stun guns, naval equipment, nitrogen cutters and laser range finders.
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