Prepaid Cell Phone Sales Lead to Terrorist Charges
Three men from Texas have been arrested on terrorism related charges after having been found with about 1,000 prepaid cell phones in their minivan. The men were pulled over in Caro, Michigan after having purchased 80 phones from a nearby Wal-Mart.
The three men, Louai Abdelhamied Othman of Mesquite, Adham Abdelhamid Othman of Dallas and Maruan Awad Muhareb of Mesquite have been charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes.
Terrorists have used cell phones to detonate bombs in the past. Authorities say the particular type of phone bought by the men, TracFones, are impossible to trace.
The men maintain their innocence.
“All we did is buy the phones to sell and make money,” Louai Othman told the court. He said this was not the first time the men had been stopped while buying prepaid cell phones. According to Mr. Othman, they had been stopped in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin while on their shopping trip.
Mr. Muhareb said, “This is a misunderstanding.” He claims he was selling phones to earn money to help pay for his brother to go to college.
Lina Odeh, wife of one of the men, believes they were arrested because they are of Arab descent.
The arrests of the three men came days after two men from Michigan were arrested in Ohio after buying about 600 phones from stores in that state.
Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan have been charged with money laundering in support of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism. Lawyers for the two men said they bought the phones to resell at a profit and were only charged because they too are of Arab descent.
Discussion Questions: Do sales of products that may be used in terrorist acts need to be restricted in some manner? What are your thoughts on the issue
as it relates to a retailer’s responsibility, even if restrictions are not mandated?