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Published: Thursday, 6/3/2010

West Toledo couple arrested on terrorism charges involving Hezbollah

BLADE STAFF

Federal agents and police arrested a Toledo husband and wife Thursday and accused the couple of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Hor I. Akl, 37, and his spouse, Amera A. Akl, 37, both of whom are dual citizens of the United States and Lebanon, were arrested on charges also that they conspired to launder money and committed arson relating to an insurance fraud scheme.

Mr. Akl is also charged with two counts of bankruptcy fraud and one count of perjury, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said in a statement.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, set when the couple appeared in federal court in Toledo Thursday afternoon.

Both will be detained until the hearing.

The Akls were at their home, 3911 Brookfield Drive, Thursday morning when they were taken into custody.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday, beginning on about Aug. 30, 2009 "the Akls conspired to provide material support to Hezbollah, which was designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October, 1997, and remains so today," said the statement from Mr. Dettelbach.

According to the complaint, the Akls agreed to send money to the terrorist organization Hezbollah after they were approached by a confidential informant for the FBI who claimed he worked for an anonymous donor eager to support Hizballah. The couple researched and proposed at least 10 different ways in which the money could be shipped to Hezbollah, the complaint alleges.

The complaint alleges that the Akls ultimately agreed to conceal approximately $500,000 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 officials on behalf of the purported anonymous donors in the United States.

The Akls expected to receive a fee or commission for arranging the transfer of funds, the complaint alleges.

It also claims that Mr. Akl in March traveled to Lebanon to make arrangements for the delivery of the money to Hezbollah.

"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," Mr. Dettelbach said. "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."



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