Prosecutors accused Hodroj and Harb of attempting to transfer about 1,200 Colt M-4 machine guns to the Syrian port of Latakia last June.

Sting operation

The men were to receive $1,800 per weapon with the help of a facilitator, who was actually an undercover federal agent.

Hodroj, Harb and Hamden are also charged with trying to transfer fake and stolen money, and cash generated via the sale of counterfeit passports, to Hezbollah.

The indictment said that Harb had told the undercover agent that some of the money had been gained from robberies undertaken by Hezbollah supporters.

It also said Harb claimed that "Iran manufactured high-quality counterfeit US currency for the benefit of Hezbollah".

Court documents said Hodroj was a member of Hezbollah's political council.

The men are not being held in custody and are believed to be abroad, Patricia Hartman, a spokesperson for Philadelphia attorney Michael L Levy, said.

Another six men were charged with forming a criminal smuggling ring to traffic suspected stolen goods, including 400 games consoles, 1,500 cellphones, thousands of pairs of counterfeit shoes and three vehicles beginning in late 2007.

The six men include Americans and a Venezuelan.

On Monday, five Lebanese men were charged with trafficking similar goods, including anti-aircraft missiles and machine guns to Syria and other ports.

Hezbollah was formed in the early 1980s in resistance to Israel's invasion of Lebanon and currently controls large parts of southern Lebanon and is a political party.