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by Associated Press
Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006 at 5:50 PM
Three men accused of helping terrorism were arrested Friday after they purchased 80 prepaid mobile phones from a Wal-Mart store, police said. - Yea like they are MAJOR TERRORISTS!!!!!
3 jailed after buying 80 cellphones
CARO, Mich. - Three men accused of helping terrorism were arrested Friday after they purchased 80 prepaid mobile phones from a Wal-Mart store, police said.
The men, all from the Dallas area, were being held on charges of soliciting or providing material support for terrorism and obtaining information of a vulnerable target for the purposes of terrorism, police Sgt. Dale Stevenson said. They were being held in Tuscola County Jail and were scheduled to be arraigned today.
Stevenson declined to elaborate on how the case relates to terrorism.
He said the men, ages 18, 22 and 23, went to a 24-hour Wal-Mart store in Caro early Friday and bought the cellphones despite a store policy limiting customers to three phones per purchase. A Wal-Mart clerk who thought the purchases were suspicious alerted police.
"They target these stores late in the morning hoping to get an inexperienced clerk," Stevenson said.
Police stopped the men's van about 1:30 a.m. and found nearly 1,000 phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones, along with a laptop computer and a bag of receipts, Stevenson said.
The men told police they were buying the phones, which cost about and come with a charger, taking them out of their packaging and selling them for about without the charger.
The arrests in Caro, about 90 miles north of Detroit, come three days after two men were arrested in Marietta, Ohio, where police said they piqued suspicions when they acknowledged buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeastern Ohio.
Investigators found information about airline flights and airports in their car.
The men, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, both 20 and from Dearborn, have been charged with two felonies - money laundering in support of terrorism and soliciting, or providing support for acts of terrorism - and misdemeanor falsification. A preliminary hearing on the felony counts was set for Tuesday.
Defense lawyers said that Houssaiky and Abulhassan planned to resell the phones simply to make money and that the flight data consisted of old papers left in the car by a relative who worked at an airport.
"The only illusory connection advanced by the prosecution to date is based on race and national origin," Abulhassan's family said in a statement. "This appears to be a typical case of racial profiling, and we are confident Osama and Ali will be exonerated."
Prosecutors in Ohio have said the prepaid phones can be used to make hard-to-track international calls and have been linked to use by terrorists.
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