August 10, 2006

Two laundered money for Hizbollah: Ohio prosecutor

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Two 20-year-old men arrested in Ohio
and found with airport security information and airline
passenger lists were being held on Thursday on state charges of
money laundering on behalf of Hizbollah, authorities said.

The two men, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, of
Dearborn, Michigan, were apprehended during a traffic stop in
Marietta, Ohio, on Tuesday.

They had $11,000 in cash, 12 cell phones a map marking
Wal-Mart stores from Ohio to South Carolina, in addition to
passenger lists and airport information, said a spokesman for
the Washington County prosecutor's office.

With security tightened on U.S. air travel after news in
Britain of a foiled bomb plot, the FBI said it was aware of the
Ohio case and was providing assistance but would not comment
further on the investigation.

The prosecutor's office said the men admitted to buying
hundreds of telephones and reselling them in Dearborn.

Dearborn, a Detroit suburb with a large Arab-American
population, has been a locus of U.S. investigations into
money-raising on behalf of Hizbollah, the group fighting Israel
in Lebanon, and Hamas, the militant group that controls the
Palestinian parliament. Both groups on the U.S. list of
terrorist organizations.

The two men's alleged tie to Hizbollah was not detailed by
authorities. Each was being held on $200,000 bond and neither
had yet entered a plea to the charge, which carries a sentence
of up to 18 months in prison.

Initially, the two men were charged with obstructing
official business because they lied to police, the spokesman
said, but those charges were dropped.

The U.S. government on Thursday raised the security alert
on passenger planes to its highest level after Britain said it
foiled a plot to blow up flights to the United States.