- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

CARO, Mich. (AP) — Three Texas men were arraigned yesterday on terrorism-related charges after police found about 1,000 cell phones in their minivan.

A magistrate set bond at $750,000 for each of the men, who are charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes.

Officials declined to say how the case relates to terrorism.

No pleas were entered at the arraignment at a district court in Caro, about 80 miles north of Detroit.

Maruan Awad Muhareb and Louai Abdelhamied Othman, both of Mesquite, Texas, and Adham Abdelhamid Othman of Dallas were stopped before dawn Friday after they purchased 80 cell phones from a Wal-Mart in Caro. Police said they found about 1,000 cell phones, mostly prepaid TracFones, in the minivan.

The men cooperated with police and the FBI for hours before their arrests Friday afternoon. They said they intended to sell the phones in Texas for a profit.

Authorities have said TracFones are often used by terrorists because they are not traceable. Cell phones can also be used to make detonators.

Mr. Adham and Mr. Louai Othman are in their early 20s, and Mr. Muhareb is 18. All are being held at the Tuscola County Jail, Caro police said.

Their arrests came 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 southeast Ohio.

Investigators found information about airline flights and airports in their car.

The men, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, both 20 and of Dearborn, Mich., 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.

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