A federal judge has thrown out all charges against three Texas men who were arrested last month in Caro, Michigan, after buying hundreds of cell phones, according to their defense attorney Nabih Ayad. Investigators initially suspected the men may have links to terrorism and were possibly targeting the Mackinac Bridge.

State prosecutors slapped them with terrorism charges, but soon dropped them. Federal prosecutors then charged them with operating a counterfeit operation. On Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Binder dismissed the federal charges of conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods and carrying out an unlawful activity involving a financial transaction. He made the decision after a court hearing Tuesday that featured FBI testimony, Ayad said.

The judge also canceled their bond, Ayad said. The Texas men — brothers Adham Othman, 21, of Dallas and Louai Othman, 23, of Mesquite, and their cousin Awad Muhareb, 18, also of Mesquite — are now free.

“It’s a victory for justice and for the Middle Eastern community,” said Ayad, their attorney.

Ayad and Arab-American groups said the men, who are Palestinian-American, were targeted because of their Arab background.

The men bought hundreds of cell phones that they had intended to resell at a profit, Ayad said. They were arrested after a suspicious store clerk alerted police.


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