DETROIT – Police in suburban Detroit mistakenly arrested the head of a popular Arab-American cultural center and held him overnight in jail, believing he was a man charged in a conspiracy to funnel money to Hezbollah from the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods.
Dearborn police claiming to be investigating a break-in asked Ali Hammoud for identification and arrested him outside his home Friday night, attorney Majed Moughni said.
“They said they had a warrant for his arrest. He was coming back from a dinner, a family gathering,” Moughni said.
But police had the wrong Hammoud.
A man with the same name was indicted along with 18 other people in Detroit in 2003 in a conspiracy involving the sale of illegal cigarettes, counterfeit Viagra and stolen goods to support Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group. That man has not been found.
An FBI agent went to the Dearborn police station Saturday and told Hammoud he was not the man wanted by authorities, Moughni said.
Hammoud is president of Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb that is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the country.
Dearborn police had no immediate comment.