Three Texas men caught north of Detroit with 1,000 cell phones in their minivan are being accused of collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes.
Police believe the trio was targetting the Mackinac Bridge.
The men claim they bought the phones, most of them prepaid TracFones, to make money by reselling them.
Maruan Awad Muhareb and Louai Abdelhamied Othman, both of Mesquite Texas, and Louai's brother Adham Abdelhamid Othman of Dallas were detained early Friday after buying 80 cell phones at a Wal-Mart store in Caro, Michigan, about 145 kilometres north of Detroit.
The Associated Press is quoting officials as saying that cell phones can be used as detonators, and that TracFones are preferred because they aren't traceable.
Police seized a laptop computer from the men, claiming it contains evidence related to the case.
But Louai's wife Lina told the wire service that Odeh said the Texas trio was buying cell phones to sell to someone in Dallas for a $5-per-phone profit. A lot of people are doing this in Texas and the phones are hard to find there, so the men came to Michigan, she said.
In Marietta Ohio, two Michigan men are facing terrorism-related charges laid last week after they admitted buying some 600 phones in recent months at stores in Ohio.
In Caro, police were called by a Wal-Mart cashier working a graveyard shift who was suspicious when the men used cash to buy 80 cell phones, the Saginaw News reports.
The three Texas men said they'd been stopped by law enforcement officials in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota.
Bail was set for them yesterday at $750,000 each.
One of the accused, Adham Abdelhamid Othman admitted to Michigan officials that he was charged seven years ago with indecent exposure and is therefore registered in Texas as a sex offender.
Othman was born in Jerusalem and has lived in Puerto Rico.
Yesterday in Caro, a pretrial date of Friday, August 18 was set for the trio, with a preliminary examination scheduled for August 24.