BUFFALO, N.Y. – The government expanded its case against three Yemeni-American men accused of illegally sending large sums of money to Yemen (search).
Thursday's indictment accuses Mohamed Albanna (search), Ali Albanna and Ali Taher Elbaneh of transferring $3.5 million to Yemen without a license between November 2001 and December 2002. The group initially was charged in 2002 with sending about $500,000 during a shorter time period.
The new indictment also adds more charges that carry longer prison terms -- 10 years instead of five -- and adds a fourth defendant: a Yemeni man who allegedly received the transfers. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Abdul Wali Kushasha, assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Lynch said.
Lynch said investigators have not traced any of the money to terrorist activities.
Mohamed Albanna has said money was sent between family members in the United States and Yemen, where banks are not easily accessible. He and the others pleaded innocent.
The three original defendants, who are related, were arrested in December 2002.
Mohamed Albanna, also vice president of the American Muslim Council of Western New York (search), said Thursday he learned of the new indictment from a reporter. "It's not surprising," he said.
A call to his lawyer was not immediately returned.
The Albannas' nephew, Jaber Elbaneh, a suspected member of a terror cell in suburban Lackawanna, was last reported to be in Yemen, according to U.S. officials. Six other Lackawanna residents, all Yemeni-American men in their 20s, were sentenced last month for attending an Al Qaeda training camp months in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.