08/10/2006

2 held on terrorism charges in Ohio after plane passenger lists, cash found during traffic stop

The Associated Press

MARIETTA, Ohio- Two men were charged with money laundering in support of terrorism after they were stopped on a traffic violation and police searched their car.

Deputies stopped Osama Sabhi Abulhassan, 20, and Ali Houssaiky, 20, both of Dearborn, Michigan, on a traffic violation Tuesday. They found airplane passenger lists and information on airport security checkpoints along with $11,000 (euro8,540) cash and 12 phones in the car, said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

Prosecutor Susan Vessels declined to say how the phones, cash or flight information involved terrorism. Authorities did not disclose any information about the men's background or what terrorist group they allegedly were supporting.

Abulhassan and Houssaiky admitted buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio, said sheriff's Maj. John Winstanley. The men said they sold the phones to someone in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb.

Investigators going through the car after the pair were pulled over in Marietta, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Columbus, also found a map that showed locations of Wal-Mart stores from Ohio through Kentucky, Tennessee and into North and South Carolina, Vessels said.

FBI spokesman Mike Brooks in Cincinnati said his office was notified about the arrests and an agent was investigating.

A message seeking comment was left Wednesday evening with Ray Smith, a public defender who represents Abulhassan. Houssaiky did not yet have an attorney, Vessels said.

Abulhassan and Houssaiky did not speak at a hearing Wednesday in Marietta Municipal Court in which a judge set their bond at $200,000 (euro155,300), Vessels said. Another bond hearing was set for Thursday.

The charges allege the two laundered between $5,000 (euro3,900) and $25,000, (euro19,400), Vessels said. A conviction carries a maximum 18 months in prison and a $5,000 (euro3,900) fine.

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