- Member of a Hezbollah terrorist cell in North Carolina
- Used a cigarette-selling scheme to generate profits that went to Hezbollah
- Currently serving a prison sentence of 155 years for aiding and abetting terrorism
Mohammad Hammoud was involved in a Hezbollah terrorist cell in North Carolina set up to raise and send funds illegally to that Lebanon-based organization. Hezbollah members murdered 241 American marines in 1983, and tortured and murdered U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem aboard a TWA commercial airliner in 1985. In prosecuting Hammoud, federal authorities were able to use the Terrorist Protection Act that makes it a federal offense to assault, maim or murder an American anywhere in the world, as well as the RICO Act which forbids illegal interstate activities. Attorney General John Ashcroft has cited activities conducted by Hammoud, his brother, and 18 other co-conspirators as proof that terrorist cells are active in America. Hammoud’s terrorist cell devised a system of buying cigarettes from suppliers in North Carolina, where taxes were lower, and then reselling them in Michigan, a state with a heavy Muslim population which would buy the cigarettes and pay substantially higher taxes. Those tax revenues, however, did not go to the state, but rather were used to generate profits that went to Hezbollah. The FBI produced evidence showing that those people under investigation for tax fraud were actually members of Hezbollah.
The Canadian Intelligence Service (CIS) that was tracking Hezbollah cells in Canada alerted U.S. authorities to the North Carolina-based cell, which the CIS had discovered through a correspondence it had intercepted. U.S. authorities thereafter conducted extensive wiretaps and investigations, and even found some videotapes in Hammoud’s apartment calling for “Death to America” and advocating terrorism on behalf of Hezbollah. Investigators proved that the Hammoud cell had raised close to $2 million for the Iranian-backed terrorist organization. Hammoud is currently serving a prison sentence of 155 years on several counts, including illegal trafficking in cigarettes, fraud, and aiding and abetting terrorism.