Two suspects may be released on bond

Dec. 20, 2002 at 9:40 PM
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DALLAS, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Two of four brothers arrested this week on charges of hiding transactions with the militant group Hamas may be released on bond Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Irma Ramirez ordered Ghassan Elashi, 49, and his brother Basman, 46, released on bond and restrictions after a hearing Friday, but the ruling was immediately appealed by the government. A federal judge is expected to review the ruling Monday.

Ramirez said the two brothers had substantial ties to the community and were not considered to be flight risks. The other two Elashi brothers, Bayan, 47, and Hazim, 41, were ordered held without bond on the charges.

The four brothers were among seven defendants named in a 33-count federal indictment unsealed Wednesday that charged they engaged in a conspiracy to hide illegal transactions with Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior leader of Hamas.

Marzook, 51, and his wife, Nadia, and another sibling of the brothers were also charged in the indictment along with InfoCom Corp., a Richardson, Texas-based Internet services company that employed the Elashi brothers.

Marzook was designated as a terrorist seven years ago, which made it illegal for anyone in the United States to deal with him. He and his wife are believed to live in Syria and the fifth brother, Ihsan Elashyi, 42, is already in custody on an unrelated charge.

The seven face charges of making illegal exports, giving false statements on export declarations, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist, conspiracy and money laundering. The Elashi brothers also face charges of illegally selling computers and computer parts to Libya and Syria, both designated state sponsors of terrorism.

At a news conference Thursday, the families of the Elashi brothers and leaders of a coalition of North Texas Islamic groups condemned the charges and said the suspects are upstanding residents of Richardson, a suburb of Dallas.

Khalid Hamideh, a coalition spokesman, charged that the men may not get a fair trial because American Muslims feel they are "under siege" in the United States since Sept. 11.

"We all know that the anti-terrorism fervor running rampant in our country may prevent those four individuals receiving a fair trial in this venue," he said.

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