Amera Akl was sentenced to more than three years in prison for her role in a conspiracy to ship hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hizballah in Lebanon, Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Division, announced today.
“This case has been about stopping the money flow to designated terrorist organizations and today’s sentence sends a clear message about the seriousness of the conduct,” Dettelbach said. “The attorneys in my office, the agents in the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force should be commended.”
Akl, 38, of Toledo, pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. She was sentenced to 40 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit a vehicle and $6,629.40 in cash.
Her husband, Hor Akl, age 38, pleaded guilty last month to a total of five counts: conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization; conspiracy to violate money laundering statutes; perjury and two counts of bankruptcy fraud. He will be sentenced later this year.
“Money is the lifeblood of terrorist organizations, and stopping the flow is a key component to choking off these organizations,” Dettelbach said.
The Akls met multiple times between August 2009 and June 2010 with a confidential source who was working on behalf of the FBI. During those meetings, the Akls discussed ways to secretly send money to Hizballah leaders in Lebanon, according to court documents.
Amera Akl told the confidential source during a meeting in Toledo on Aug. 30, 2009 that she dreamed of dressing like Hizballah, carrying a gun and dying as a martyr, according to court documents.
Hor Akl, in the presence of his wife, told the confidential source during a Sept. 10, 2009 meeting in Toledo that he understood the money was being transported to “terrorists.” He also stated he understood the funds would be sent to a designated terrorist organization and used to target Israel, according to court documents.
Eventually, the Akls agreed to send the money by secreting it inside a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer, which they planned send to Lebanon via a container ship.
On June 3, 2010, the confidential source delivered $200,000 to the Akls at their home on Brookfield Drive in Toledo and told them he would return later in the day with more money. Shortly thereafter, the Akls were observed inside their residence wearing latex/rubber gloves, in close proximity to various automobile accessories, plastic wrap, duct tape, latex/rubber gloves and fragrant insect repellant sticks. Hor Akl had prepared a portion of the money for concealment into the auto accessories, wrapped it in plastic and taped into a bundle, according to court documents.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin E. Herdman, Duncan Brown, Thomas E. Getz and Trial Attorney S. Elisa Poteat of the National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section, following an investigation by the FBI, through its Joint Terrorism Task Force, in Toledo, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.