A Lebanese man accused of trying to smuggle Stinger antiaircraft missiles from this country to the Middle East was declared a danger to the public yesterday and ordered detained without bail.
Dani Nemr Tarraf, 39, was arrested two weeks ago when a federal undercover operation lured him into the United States under the pretense of providing him with weapons for Hezbollah, the Lebanese military and political group declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Federal officials said Tarraf believed he was going to inspect missiles and guns for shipment Syria for "the resistance" when he arrived in Philadelphia on Nov. 21.
Court proceedings were translated into Arabic for Tarraf, who sat at the defense table wearing a prison jumpsuit, his hands and legs shackled.
Tarraf, 39, whose photo has not been released, is slightly more than 6 feet tall, with a shaved head, a mustache, and a beard covering his chin area.
At the brief hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Miller said Tarraf had "every incentive" to flee overseas because he was facing a mandatory sentence of 30 years in prison. He has family in Lebanon and business dealings in that nation, Europe, and China.
Miller told U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin that Tarraf was also planning to buy antitank weapons and 10,000 M4 assault rifles "for the benefit of Hezbollah," whose members Miller called "thugs and stone-cold killers."
Tarraf's reaction to Miller's remarks could not be seen, but through his court-appointed defense attorney, Marc Neff, he pleaded not guilty.
Tarraf allegedly made a $20,000 down payment for the missiles and 10,000 automatic rifles, instructing a federal undercover agent to ship them to the Syrian port of Latakia.
Agents from the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Internal Revenue Service have been involved in at least two undercover operations that have resulted in recent charges against Lebanese nationals by Philadelphia-based federal prosecutors.
Three Lebanese nationals and one U.S. resident were charged yesterday with trying to obtain 1,200 M4 military assault weapons for Hezbollah.
Those men are overseas and are not in custody.