Terrorism-related charges against five Arab-American men arrested after buying batches of cell phones in the past week appeared to be unraveling, people involved in the two cases said on Tuesday.

The FBI has weighed in on both cases to say there were no ties between the men and terror groups.

But local prosecutors in northern Michigan and southern Ohio had not fully renounced the allegations, which have attracted wide publicity especially since Britain announced last week it had foiled a plot to bomb airliners.

“I think (prosecutors) are stuck in a corner and looking for a safe place. If I was them, I would say a mistake was done, and the police overreacted,” said Imad Hamad of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Michigan.

Supporters of the five men say they were merely traveling to discount stores buying prepaid cellular telephones with the aim of reselling the phones to earn money, and had been arrested because they fit a racial profile.

Prosecutors in both cases, meanwhile, have said in court the untraceable cell phones being purchased were valuable tools for terror groups and might serve as detonators for bombs.

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