Toledo couple arrested for alleged ties to Hezbollah
Thu, 03 Jun 2010 16:28:48 GMT —
Federal agents converged on a home in West Toledo as part of an anti-terrorism raid across the greater Toledo area Thursday.
Law enforcement officials blocked off the residential area surrounding Brookfield Dr. near Sylvania Ave. and Talmadge Rd. shortly before Noon Thursday. Authorities then raided 3911 Brookfield Dr. Hor Akl is listed as the home's owner, according to the Lucas County Auditor's website.
Authorities say Akl, 37, and his wife, Amera, 37, both of Lebanese decent, were arrested inside their home on various counts of conspiring to launder money, commit arson, bankruptcy fraud and perjury. The charges are said to be part of a larger scheme that was to provide support to the Islamist group Hezbollah.
In a criminal complaint filed in federal court Thursday morning, the Akls are accused of conspiring to provide material support to Hezbollah from on or about Aug. 30, 2009. Hezbollah was designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in Oct. 1997.
The Akls allegedly agreed to send money to the terrorist group after being approached by an informant for the FBI who claimed to work for an anonymous donor in support of Hezbollah. The informant provided the couple with $200,000 in cash, which they were said to be preparing to transport to the Middle East. The criminal complaint says the Akls agreed to conceal approximately $500,000 inside their vehicle and to ship the vehicle to Lebanon where the cash would be removed and given to Hezbollah officials.
"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," said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach. "Furthermore, those who seek to take illegal advantage of our government, judicial and financial institutions, for their personal benefit or for the benefit of others, will not be ignored."
Roadways around the Akls' West Toledo home were blocked off for hours as law enforcement officials canvassed the area. Authorities were also seen thoroughly inspecting vehicles surrounding the home, including removing a tire from one vehicle.
The couple made an initial appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon. According to maxiumum statutory penalty guidelines, the couple faces up to 50 years each in prison if convicted on all charges against them. They will next appear in court on Tuesday for a detention hearing and preliminary examination. They are currently being held by federal authorities. The couple's children are said to be staying with relatives.