DETROIT — A former resident of Dearborn, Michigan, pleaded guilty today to providing material support to Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization, Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, and Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, announced today.
They were joined in the announcement by Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Detroit, and Brian Moskowitz, Special Agent in Charge of Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in Detroit.
Fawzi Assi, 47, formerly of Dearborn, Michigan, entered the guilty plea in United States District Court before Judge Gerald E. Rosen. Mr. Assi admitted that, on July 13, 1998, he attempted to board an airplane at Detroit Metro Airport on an international flight for Lebanon. At the time he had in his possession two Boeing global positioning satellite modules. He also had night vision goggles and a thermal imaging camera in his luggage. He was attempting to deliver these items to a person in Lebanon, who was purchasing the equipment for Hizballah, which was at the time, and currently is, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
"We will be unswerving in our pursuit of those who seek to support international terrorists." said Mr. Murphy. "Anyone who gives money, technology, or other material support to any terrorist organization will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I applaud the excellent work of the FBI, ICE and the dedicated lawyers in our office, whose tireless work led to the successful resolution today."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena said, “This case was initiated before September 11, 2001 and I would like to thank the dedicated agents who have been a part of this case. Material support of terrorism is a very serious offense and the FBI will continue to aggressively investigate and pursue these matters.”
“I commend the excellent work of our partners, the FBI and CBP on this national security investigation,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. “This collective work prevented the illegal exporting of licensable technology and military items to a designated terrorist organization.” Moskowitz’ area of responsibility covers the states of Michigan and Ohio.
At the time of his arrest Mr. Assi had been living in Dearborn and was a mechanical engineer for the Ford Motor Company. Shortly after his arrest in 1998, Mr. Assi was ordered released from custody during a hearing in which the government sought to have him detained. He fled to Lebanon and remained there until May 2004 when he returned to the United States. He has been in custody since that time.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mr. Assi faces up to ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.