This case is apparently connected to a larger investigation which found 30 auto businesses in the U.S. that laundered over $300 million in money to benefit Hizballah. Even in Tulsa. “Raid on Wilson auto dealership stuns landlord, neighbors,” from The Tennessean, December 24:
A Wilson County car dealer accused of aiding Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah was born in that Middle Eastern country in 1969 and moved to Tennessee nine years ago, Davidson County court records show.
Khalil Aref Abdelkhalek’s landlord at Cedar Exports Auto Sales and neighboring businesspeople said they were shocked to hear that federal agents had raided the company “” along with dozens of other dealerships across the country “” as part of a civil money laundering and forfeiture lawsuit seeking nearly half a billion dollars from an alleged massive, international scheme to funnel money to Hezbollah.
Another “decent fellow“:
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” said Tony Moorby, owner of the Dealer Plaza complex where Cedar Exports and 13 other automotive dealers are located. “This chap has been great. He actually comes looking for us to pay his rent. He’s always been happy, courteous, smiling. He’s always been very gracious.
“But I”m sure the feds can’t do this kind of thing without all the consideration that’s due.”
Reached by telephone, Abdelkhalek, 42, referred comment to his lawyer, Nashville attorney Nader Baydoun, who did not return phone messages and emails seeking comment. In an interview with WSMV-TV, Abdelkhalek emphatically denied the government’s charges that he aided terrorists and suggested he may have unwittingly been caught up in the alleged scheme.
“As part of the scheme, funds were wired from Lebanon to the United States to buy used cars, which were then transported to West Africa,” states a news release announcing the civil charges brought last week by the U.S. Attorney”s Office for the Southern District of New York. “Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were then funneled to Lebanon through (Hezbollah)-controlled money laundering channels.”…