Lebanese man resentenced to 30 years in prison for supporting Hezbollah

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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: A Lebanese man on Thursday was resentenced to 30 years in prison for providing material support to Hezbollah in Charlotte, North Carolina, prosecutors informed.

Mohamad Youssef Hammoud, 37, was originally sentenced to 155 years in prison for supporting the foreign terrorist organization between 1995 and 2000. He filed an appeal and after a three-year process the original sentence was vacated.

Hammoud was born in Lebanon and came into the United States illegally in 1992. He continued living here by virtue of three sham marriages to U.S. citizens until his 2000 arrest.

"Hammoud was a student and member of Hezbollah as a youth in his home country and came to the United States on a Hezbollah-driven mission," U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said.

On July 21, 2000, North Carolina police arrested Hammoud along two of his brothers and 22 more individuals on numerous criminal counts related to their involvement with a cell operating in Charlotte with links to the terrorist group Hezbollah.

"He loyally accomplished his mission by creating a criminal enterprise which accumulated millions of dollars in profits, purchased businesses in the U.S., preached radical Muslim fundamentalism as he led a clandestine terrorist cell in Charlotte," Tompkins added.

The defendant and his brother, Chawki Hammoud, were tried and convicted of providing material support to Hezbollah, and on many other criminal counts, including conspiracy, cigarette smuggling, money laundering, racketeering, and immigration fraud.

During trial, it was known that Hammoud led a cigarette smuggling organization which was responsible for the illegal smuggling of over $8 million worth of cigarettes from North Carolina to Michigan during the late 1990's.

The funds illegally earned by the Charlotte-based group were transferred to Hezbollah leadership in Lebanon. The 2002 trial was the first in the country of a federal "material support to a designated terrorist organization" charge.

While awaiting trial, Hammoud ordered the murder of the then prosecutor on the bombing of Charlotte's federal courthouse case. Prosecutors said the resentence was fair.

(BNO NEWS )

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