|12/16. A grand jury of the U.S.
District Court (NDTex) returned a 33 count
[32 page PDF scan] against seven individuals and one company. The indictment
charges five brothers named Elashi who have all worked for a company named Infocom
Corporation, which is also charged, that exported computers and computer
components to customers in the Middle East. The indictment contains twelve
counts naming the Elashi brothers pertaining to exports to Libya and Syria in
violation of U.S. export control laws.
Also charged is a cousin of the Elashi brothers, Nadia Marzook, and her
husband, Mousa Abu Marzook. Mr. Marzook is the Deputy Chief of Hamas' Political
Bureau. The U.S. named Mousa Abu Marzook a Specifically Designated Terrorist (SDT) in
1995, thus making certain transactions with him illegal. The remaining counts of the complaint allege that three of the Elashi
brothers and Mr. and Mrs. Marzook engaged in various financial transactions that
are illegal because of Mr. Marzook's status as a terrorist. More specifically,
the indictment alleges that Mr. Marzook invested $250,000 in Infocom through his
wife, and that Infocom made various transfers to her as a share of the profits.
See, BIS release
of December 18, 2002 regarding the latest indictment.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
touted the indictment. It wrote in a
release that "Today's indictment proves once again that
the FBI is committed to aggressively pursuing terrorists and disrupting
terrorist networks across the United States. The investigation out of Dallas relied upon
an array of intelligence and law enforcement initiatives and tools that have
characterized our post 9-11 prevention efforts."
The charges against the Marzooks and Elashis pertaining to financial
transactions involving a terrorist are new. However, the investigation of the Elashis for
export control violations predates the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Also, the December 17 indictment does not contain the first criminal charges
brought regarding the Elashi's activities.
The Department of Commerce's Bureau of
Industry and Security (BIS), which was
formerly known as the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA), first issued an
injunction order naming the five Elashi brothers and Infocom on September 6,
The BIS issued its first injunction order on September 6, 2001. See,
notice in the Federal Register, September 13, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 178, at
pages 47630 - 47632. It names the five Elashi brothers, a sixth individual named
Fadwa Elafrangi, Infocom, and a related corporation named Tetrabal Corporation.
See also, story titled "BXA Issues Injunction for Exporting Computer Equipment to
Terrorist States" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 268, September 14, 2001.
The BIS later affirmed this injunction. See,
notice in the Federal Register, November 20, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 224, at
Pages 58112 - 58115. See also, story titled "Illegal Export of Computers to
Libya and Syria" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 313, November 21, 2001.
The BIS actions in 2001 were administrative injunctions, barring the Elashis
and their companies from engaging in certain transactions, and warning other
businesses not to do business with them. This was not a criminal proceeding. The
indictment of December 17 does constitute criminal charges. However, this indictment
does not allege facts regarding illegal exports that distinguish it from the
facts underlying the earlier BIS administrative actions.
The December 17 superceding indictment states that the Elashis and Infocom
exported "computers and computer components". However, it is silent regarding
the actual products exported. Other releases by the Department of Justice do not
specify the products exported. The BIS's releases and notices are also silent as
to the products exported.
Nor does this indictment state the intended end users of the computers and
The indictment does not state the location or residence of the defendants.
However, previous BIS announcements gives their locations in Richardson, Texas.
This is a north Dallas suburb in close proximity to many technology companies.
At times relevant to allegations in the indictment, nearby companies included
Texas Instruments, Perot Systems, EDS, Sterling Software, Cyrix, Micrografx, and
Also, the indictment does not indicate whether the Elashis sold, or conspired
to sell, computers at, or above, prevailing market prices.
General John Ashcroft
(at right) stated that "The war against terror is a war of
audits and accountants as well as a war of weaponry and soldiers. Today's
charges against a senior leader of Hamas are the latest in an aggressive
campaign to identify, disrupt and destroy the sources of funding that make
terrorism possible. The Department of Justice has conducted investigations into
terrorist financing in 22 states, secured 23 convictions, and worked with the
Treasury Department to freeze $112 million in terrorist-related funds. At this
time, material support for terrorism charges are pending against individuals in
Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Buffalo, San Diego, and Houston. And today, seven
individuals and one corporation in Dallas stand charged with terrorist
He continued that "Terrorist money men should know this: We are hunting down
the murderers you support, and we will hunt you down. Just as we will prosecute
the terrorist who plants a bomb, we will prosecute the terrorist supporter who
writes a check. We will follow the money of terror. And we will pursue the
financiers of terror as aggressively as we pursue the thugs who do their dirty
Counts 1 through 12 name various of the five Elashi
brothers, and Infocom, but not the Marzooks. These counts all pertain to
exporting to Libya and Syria without licenses from the U.S. government. Count 1
alleges conspiracy to violate the Export Administration Regulations and the
Libyan Sanctions Regulations. The count (like counts 2 through 12) is not
dependent on the nature of the items which defendants conspired to export.
Counts 2 through 6 allege Libyan export violations. Counts 8 through 10
allege Syrian export violations. Counts 7 and 11 allege the making of false
statements in Shipper's Export Declarations regarding these export violations.
Count 12 alleges money laundering. Specifically, it alleges the depositing in a
financial institution of proceeds of illegal export sales.
Counts 13 through 33 pertain to financing and terrorism. Basically, the
indictment alleges that Mr. Marzook, the Hamas terrorist, invested a total of
$250,000 in Infocom in several installments. It further alleges that he made the
investment through his wife, who is also a cousin of the Elashi brothers. It
further alleges that the investment agreement called for regular payments "based
upon 40% of the defendant Infocom's net profit/loss, to be made by the defendant
Nadia Elashi by the defendant Infocom". Finally, the indictment alleges a series
of payments by Infocom back to Mrs. Elashi.
Count 13 alleges conspiracy to deal in the property of a Specifically
Designated Terrorist (SDT). Count 13 (as well as 14-33) names Mrs. Elashi,
Infocom, and three of the Elashi brothers. It does not name two of the brothers,
including Ihsan Elashi. Count 14 alleges dealing in the property of a SDT.
Counts 15 through 23 allege specific instances of dealing in the property of a
SDT. Count 24 alleges conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Counts 25
through 33 allege specific instances of money laundering.
One of the five Elashi brothers charged with violation
of export laws in the December 17 indictment is Ihsan Elashi. He was also named
in an earlier indictment. Moreover, he has already plead guilty to various
charges. The BIS stated in a June 25 release that "Ihsan Elashyi, also known
as Sammy Elashi,
a resident of Richardson, Texas pled guilty in federal court to a charge of
exporting computer equipment to Saudi Arabia in violation of a Department of
Commerce Temporary Denial Order." See,
BIS release. See
also, "More News" column in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 459, June 26, 2002.
The same BIS release states that "In his guilty plea, Elashyi admitted that,
on September 22, 2001, after the
imposition of the Temporary Denial Order, he and Tetrabal willfully violated
that order by participating in a transaction that involved the export and
attempted export of computers and monitors from the United States to Saudi
The December 17, 2002 superceding indictment makes no mention of export of
computers to Saudi Arabia, or associated export law violations. Moreover, while
the December 17 indictment charges Ihsan Elashi, like his brothers, with export
law violations with respect to Libya and Syria, it does not charge him in those
Counts pertaining to terrorist financing.
An October 22, 2002
of the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Texas addresses Ihsan
Elashi's Saudi Arabian dealings. In particular, it describes a transaction for
the sale of 119 computers to a company in Saudi Arabia. It states that Elashi
received payment of $107,385, but delivered no computers. The release does not
allege that this was a sham transaction, or that it was related to terrorist
financing. Rather, it states that Ihsan Elashi defrauded the Saudi Arabian
The October 22 release states that
"Elashyi engaged in a scheme to defraud Saudi Systems, Inc. of Saudi Arabia. He
failed to disclose to Saudi Systems, Inc. that he and his company, Tetrabal,
were the subject of the TDO and prohibited from shipping good outside the United
States. In specific violation of the TDO, Elashyi negotiated the sale of 119
computers to Saudi Systems, Inc. and faxed a price quotation to their office in
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He accepted their order and received a wire transfer of
$107,385 from Saudi Systems, Inc. to pay for the computers. After he received
the funds, Elashyi falsely told representatives of Saudi Systems, Inc. that he
could not return their money as his bank account had been frozen by the United
States government. According to documents filed in court, Elashyi kept the funds
and used them for his own personal benefit and for the benefit of Tetrabal."