Monday, February 28, 2011

Alleged Supporter of Terrorist Group Extradited from Paraguay

PHILADELPHIA—Moussa Ali Hamdan, 38, a dual citizen of the United States and Lebanon and a former resident of Brooklyn, New York, made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia today after being extradited from Paraguay. He is being held pending a detention hearing. Hamdan is among several defendants charged in a conspiracy to provide material support to Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization. He was indicted November 24, 2009, along with nine co-defendants. Hamdan was taken into U.S. custody in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Thursday, by U.S. Marshals who escorted him to Washington, D.C., where members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force took him into custody.

At the time of the indictment, Hamdan had left the United States. On June 15, 2010, Paraguayan authorities arrested him in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Paraguay for the crime of material support of terrorism.

Hamdan is charged in 28 of the 31 counts in the indictment, including conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah in the form of proceeds from the sale of counterfeit money, stolen (genuine) money, and fraudulent passports. According to the indictment, Hamdan and several other defendants were also charged with several counts of transporting stolen goods, trafficking in counterfeit goods, and making false statements to government officials.

According to a related criminal complaint Hamdan began purchasing purportedly stolen cellular telephones from a cooperating witness acting as an agent of the government and participated in the purchase and transportation of purportedly stolen goods on numerous occasions. These stolen goods included cellular telephones, laptop computers, Sony Play Station 2 systems, and automobiles, which the conspirators caused to be transported to destinations outside Pennsylvania, including overseas destinations such as Lebanon and Benin (Africa). Hamdan also allegedly bought counterfeit goods—namely, counterfeit Nike® shoes and Mitchell & Ness® sports jerseys—from the cooperating witness. The complaint details efforts by defendants Moussa Ali Hamdan and his co-defendants to sell the CW counterfeit United States currency for the purpose of raising funds for Hizballah. In total, the conspirators provided the CW with approximately $10,000 in counterfeit United States currency. The complaint also alleges that certain of Hamdan’s co-defendants generated additional funds for Hizballah by selling fraudulent passports. The CW and the defendants participated in the purchase of two fake passports—one from the United Kingdom and one from Canada—for the benefit of Hizballah. Hamdan allegedly agreed to pay $10,000 towards the purchase of these passports, in order to satisfy a debt he owed to the CW.

If convicted of all charges, Hamdan faces a statutory maximum sentence of 260 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the New Jersey State Police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Secret Service, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Philadelphia Police Department, Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Air Marshals, Pennsylvania State Police, and the Philadelphia Police Department.

It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nancy Beam Winter and Vineet Gauri, and National Security Division Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney Jolie F. Zimmerman.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to extend special thanks to the Paraguayan judicial and law enforcement authorities, including the U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, for their invaluable assistance in the arrest and subsequent extradition of Hamdan, as well as the Office of International Affairs and U.S. Embassy, Asuncion, Diplomatic Security personnel who were involved in ensuring Hamdan’s capture and return to the United States.

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