Jessica Yolanda Fortune hooked up with Lebanon-born Chawki Youssef Hammoud in 1994. The marriage enabled him to obtain a green card -- and the cover to operate a Charlotte, N.C.-based cell that smuggled cigarettes to raise cash for Hezbollah. The terror cell reportedly answered to a senior Hezbollah leadership in Lebanon and was part of a broader North American network responsible for also obtaining dual-use technologies for Hezbollah -- including goggles, global positioning systems, stun guns, naval equipment, nitrogen cutters and laser range finders.
Fortune was convicted of marriage fraud in October 2001. Hammoud was convicted of smuggling, credit-card fraud, money laundering and racketeering in June 2002. Fortune's brother-in-law, Mohammed Hammoud, married three different American women. After arriving in the United States on a counterfeit visa, being ordered deported and filing an appeal, he wed Sabina Edwards to gain a green card. INS officials refused to award him legal status after this first marriage was deemed bogus in 1994.
He then married Jessica Wedel in May 1997, and while still wed to her, paid Angela Tsioumas to marry him in Detroit. Tsioumas entered a plea agreement in March 2002 on charges of conspiracy. Her "husband" was convicted on 16 counts that included providing material support to Hezbollah. A total of 25 people connected to the ring were nabbed.
Does the name "Hammoud" sound familiar? Earlier this month, the FBI announced the capture of Assem Hammoud -- also a Lebanese-born Muslim like the members of the cigarette-smuggling Hammoud gang. He is suspected of working for al Qaeda on a plot to blow up PATH train tunnels between New Jersey and lower Manhattan with a team of suicide bombers. The 1998 terrorism indictment of Osama bin Laden notes al Qaeda's forged alliances "with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezbollah."
Together, they've killed American servicemen and civilians around the world.
Not in your backyard? Think again.
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