By Spencer S. Hsu
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A Hezbollah political official and his son-in-law sought this year to smuggle 1,200 machine guns from the United States to the militant Islamist group via Syria, according to indictments made public Tuesday against 10 men in federal court in Philadelphia.
Hassan Hodroj and Dib Hani Harb, both of Beirut, were among four men accused of conspiring to support Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite group with close ties to Iran and Syria that is on the State Department's list of terrorist groups, U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy of Philadelphia said.
Harb, Moussa Ali Hamdan of Brooklyn and Hasan Antar Karaki of Beirut were also charged with seeking to funnel to Hezbollah counterfeit money and stolen cash generated by the sale of phony passports, with Hamdan acting as a U.S.-based conduit to a confidential government witness based in Philadelphia.
Hodroj was identified in court documents as a member of Hezbollah's political council and has been identified in news reports as spokesman and head of its Palestinian issues portfolio. None of the four is in U.S. custody and all are believed to be overseas, said Patricia Hartman, spokeswoman for Levy.
The six others indicted Tuesday allegedly formed a criminal smuggling ring that trafficked in purportedly stolen goods, including cellphones, Sony PlayStation 2 video game systems, automobiles and fake Nike tennis shoes.