Hizbollah supporters arrested

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United States federal agents arrested yesterday what it claimed was "a support group" for Hizbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamist group.

United States federal agents arrested yesterday what it claimed was "a support group" for Hizbollah, the Lebanon-based Islamist group.

Homes and businesses around Charlotte, North Carolina, were raided early yesterday morning and 16 or 17 people were arrested. An affidavit alleged the group was involved in money laundering, conspiracy to traffick in contraband cigarettes, immigration law violations and attempted bribery.

US federal agents said the investigation had been assisted by Canadian intelligence agencies, and that confidential sources had been infiltrated into the groups.

The "group" invested Hizbollah funds in a tobacco shop and a Lebanese restaurant, the US said. It was not clear if this involved anything illegal.

It was also alleged to have smuggled cigarettes to Michigan, where the tax is higher, and sent the proceeds to Hizbollah. It was further accused of money laundering and immigration fraud.

Several previous American arrests of suspected terrorists have collapsed due toinsufficient evidence.

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