4 Charged With Arming Radical Group

Sandi Thom, a British singer
CBS/The Early Show
Four members of an alleged Hezbollah cell here gave cash and military equipment — including stun guns and blasting equipment — to the militant Islamic group overseas, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The indictment said the men also conspired to provide the Lebanon-based guerrilla group, an avowed enemy of Israel, with night vision goggles, global positioning devices, mine detection and radar equipment, cellphones and cameras.

"The defendants planned to acquire a variety of items that Hezbollah would use to engage in violent attacks and to film such attacks for use in Hezbollah propaganda efforts," the indictment said.

Last summer, the same federal grand jury indicted 18 people on charges of cigarette smuggling, money laundering and immigration violations. Six have pleaded guilty to immigration law violations and charges are pending against the remaining 12.

Those indicted Wednesday include three new defendants — Ali Adham Amhaz, Mohamad Hassan Dbouk and Hassan Hilu Laqis. None is in custody. Also indicted was Said Mohamad Harb, who was among the group charged in July. He remains in federal custody without bond.

Conviction on the conspiracy charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The government contends that Mohamad Youssef Hammoud, named in the original indictment, led a Charlotte-based group of Lebanese immigrants who bought cases of cigarettes in North Carolina, which has a low cigarette tax, and sold them at a profit in other states.

Prosecutors said the group diverted some of its profits to Hezbollah, named by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

"We hope to send a clear message that North Carolina, the United States and Canada are off-limits for illegal funding and procurement activities by individuals or organizations that support terrorism," said Chris Swecker, special agent in charge of the FBI's Charlotte office.