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FBI: Two Individuals Smuggled Firearms From Cleveland to Lebanon; One of the Individuals Was a Security Guard for a Powerful Politician in Lebanon

According to an indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday, two individuals are accused of smuggling firearms from Cleveland to Lebanon for several years.

According to the authorities, one of the men works as a member of the security team for a powerful politician in Lebanon.

An eight-count federal indictment has been filed against George Ajaltouni, formerly of Rocky River and North Olmsted, and Jean Issa, of Batroun, Lebanon. The indictment accuses them of conspiracy, smuggling guns, and illegally exporting firearms.

According to the indictment, the two individuals smuggled dozens, and possibly hundreds, of firearms into Beirut that they had purchased at local gun dealerships and at gun shows in and around the Northeast Ohio area.

They concealed the firearms in hidden compartments within modified vehicles and transported them to Beirut.

According to the prosecutors, Issa has been arrested in the past and is still being held in custody outside of the country.

Ajaltouni has been living in Lebanon since departing the United States many years ago, where she has remained ever since.

Ajaltouni, who is 47 years old, started working as a bodyguard for Gebran Bassil, the leader of Lebanon’s largest Christian political party and the son-in-law of the country’s president, Michel Aoun.

That individual possesses a significant amount of power in that nation. In the year 2020, the United States Department of State imposed sanctions on Bassil as a result of what it referred to as “systemic corruption” in the government.

According to court records and the FBI, Ajaltouni was an avid volleyball player when he lived in Cleveland.

He also owned a Georgio’s Pizza shop on Dennison Avenue near West 74th Street during this time.

In 2012, he delivered a speech at an event honouring Bassil that took place at a restaurant in the downtown area of Cleveland.

Indictments were brought against Ajaltouni by a federal grand jury in 2016, while the FBI was actively searching for him and attempting to bring him into custody.

The cases were kept under wraps until Tuesday when federal prosecutors and the FBI asked for the assistance of the general public in bringing him back to the United States.

There is not an extradition agreement in place between the United States of America and Lebanon.


A former Cleveland businessman named Nakhle “Michael” Nader, who is now 51 years old, is believed to have fled to Lebanon, according to the FBI, which stated that agents are searching for him in Lebanon.

In 2019, he was accused of evading taxes and was charged with the offence. Although Nader has not been charged in connection with the gun-smuggling case, the FBI believes that he is associated with Ajaltouni and that this association may have led to the commission of the crime.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy to smuggle firearms was carried out by Ajaltouni and Issa, both of whom were 48 years old at the time. It began in May 2011 and continued until September 2014.

According to the indictment, Ajaltouni is accused of purchasing firearms legally from several locations throughout Northeast Ohio, including gun shows in Niles, Akron, East Canton, Berea, Medina, and Columbus.

Additionally, the indictment states that Ajaltouni purchased firearms from other locations throughout the state.

In addition to that, he purchased firearms from private individuals and from authorized retailers of firearms.

Ajaltouni purchased several automobiles and subsequently modified each one to include concealed storage spaces.

According to the prosecutors, Issa travelled all the way from Beirut to Cleveland so that he could assist Ajaltouni in concealing firearms in vehicles and transporting them back to Beirut.

After that, both of them travelled to Beirut, where, according to the indictment, they sold the firearms for enormous profits.

According to the court documents, the two individuals transported approximately 40 firearms between them within four vehicles in the year 2013, and 93 firearms, including three rifles, within a single vehicle in the following year.

As a result of the investigation into Ajaltouni and Issa, two additional separate cases were opened: one against Nader, and another against Ajaltouni separately.

Ajaltouni is additionally charged with committing fraud related to his naturalization. In this particular instance, he is accused of lying on naturalization forms to speed up the process of obtaining citizenship for his wife, Nisrine El Khoury.

Ajaltouni and El Khoury tied the knot in Lebanon in 2004, before El Khoury’s relocation to the United States.

According to the records from the court, she wed Steve, Ajaltouni’s brother, not long after she arrived in the country.

The ceremony took place in Rocky River Municipal Court. El Khoury was able to successfully apply for citizenship because Steve Ajaltouni had already gone through the process of naturalization at the time.

According to the court records, George Ajaltouni was a “lawful permanent resident,” but he did not have full citizenship. This was the case even though he was born in the United States.

In the past, both Steve Ajaltouni and El Khoury have entered guilty pleas related to the investigation and case. El Khoury was given a sentence of three years of probation, while Steve Ajaltouni was given a sentence of one year of probation.

The charges against Nader accuse him of evading taxes at three liquor stores he owned in the Cleveland area between the years 2012 and 2015.

Mr C’s Food Mart was located on Shaw Avenue close to East 126th Street, Bank Street Wine and Spirits were located on West 6th Street in downtown Cleveland, and Mr C’s II was located on Superior Avenue close to East 59th Street. These were all businesses that were owned by Nader. In 2017, the stores were the target of raids conducted by the FBI and the IRS.

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According to the indictment, Nader owned the businesses but placed them in the names of relatives in official documents. Nader allegedly did this to conceal his ownership.

According to the indictment, he transferred money that he earned from the business into his personal accounts and used the money to pay his rent, his car payments, his mortgage, his alimony payments, as well as for travelling, purchasing clothing and dining out, and purchasing jewellery.

According to the documents filed in the case, Nader is also accused of failing to report income from a house in North Royalton that he rented out to tenants.

According to the FBI, after Nader left Cleveland, he moved to Batroun, Lebanon, where he opened two restaurants, one of which was named “Cheers Cousin Mike.”

According to the FBI, he has a tattoo of Hassan Nasrallah, who is the secretary general of Hezbollah, and he is suspected of travelling to both Cyprus and France.

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