A Florida man is free on bail following charges that he funded terrorism by shipping Sony PlayStation 2 consoles to Paraguay.
Khaled Safadi of Doral, a suburb of Miami, was the recipient of an eleven-charge indictment from federal authorities for shipping the game consoles and digital cameras to the Galeria Page Mall, located in Ciudad del Este, between 2007 and 2008. The Miami Herald reports that Treasury Department officials believe that the shopping mall is a front used to fund the activities of Lebanese-based Hezbollah.
Safadi reportedly sold $720,000 worth of PS2s and cameras to the mall. Authorities said that he provided false addresses on invoices in an attempt to hide the shipments. Safadi was granted release on a bail of $1.55 million, but will be confined to his home.
Speaking to a judge, Safadi’s lawyer stated, “He is being accused of shipping a children's toy to Paraguay. It's a shame that the government has pumped this thing up as a terrorism case.”
Ulises Talavera and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira were also arrested for their part in forwarding the freight to the South American country. The operator of the Paraguayan mall store in question was not charged.
The arrests, on February 18th of this year, were a result of an investigation by Custom and Immigration officials in conjunction with the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI.
Safadi is a Paraguayan citizen with U.S. residency.
|Image from the New York Times|