(AFP) – Jun 3, 2010
WASHINGTON — A Lebanese-American couple was arrested Thursday and charged with providing material support to Hezbollah, a designated foreign terror organization, and other crimes.
The Justice Department said Hor Akl, and his wife Amera Akl, both 37, were arrested in Ohio without incident and were to appear in federal court later in the day.
The Toledo residents, who are dual citizens of the United States and Lebanon, were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, money laundering charges and arson relating to an insurance fraud scheme.
Hor Akl is also charged with two counts of bankruptcy fraud and one count of perjury, US Attorney Steven Dettelbach said.
According to the complaint, the Akls agreed to send money to Hezbollah after they were approached in 2009 by a confidential informant for the FBI who claimed he worked for an anonymous donor eager to support the group which has been on the US terror list since 1997.
"The couple researched and proposed at least 10 different ways in which the money could be shipped" to the group, the complaint said.
Officials said the Akls agreed to conceal some 500,000 dollars in the hollow sections of a vehicle and to ship the vehicle to Lebanon, where they would remove the cash and give it to Hezbollah.
In March 2010, Hor Akl traveled to Lebanon to make arrangements for the delivery of the funds.
The complaint also alleges that the Akls discussed multiple criminal violations in the past, including smuggling of large amounts of currency to Lebanon, wire fraud, mail fraud and other crimes.
"This case demonstrates our continued commitment to prosecuting those who seek to aid terrorists and terrorist organizations, whether they do so from our backyards, or abroad," Dettlebach said.
The charges of supporting a terrorist organization carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, and money laundering charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years.
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