Tuesday, October 12, 2010

US Sting of Iranian Weapons Smuggler

October 5, 2010

ISISNuclearIran.org would like to highlight a comprehensive investigative report, including exclusive interviews, video, and photographs, by John Shiffman of The Philadelphia Enquirer, which details the U.S. sting operation, arrest, detainment, and sentencing of Amir Hossein Ardebili. Ardebili was a “prolific” military parts smuggler who worked in Iran to supply the Iranian military with needed dual-use goods. U.S. agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested him in October 2007 during a sting operation in which Ardebili was lured by ICE agents posing as arms dealers to Tbilisi, Georgia, and brought to the United States to stand trial on fourteen counts of violations of export controls, conspiracy, and money laundering. Ardebili received a prison sentence of five years for smuggling to Iran approximately $1 million per year worth of U.S. goods for attack aircraft, missiles, missile guidance, and target acquisition systems.

The Philadelphia Enquirer article contains many new, interesting revelations concerning:

ICE counter-proliferation operations:

The Philadelphia front company created by ICE to catch traffickers such as Ardebili went into “business” as early as 2004. Agents made the entire operation appear to be a legitimate import/export company, down to producing a logo, business cards, and a public records trail. ICE installed hidden microphones and cameras in the company’s offices in order to catch potential “clients” talking about violating U.S. export laws.

One ICE agent partnered with a legitimate British arms dealer at a trade show in Dubai in order to give himself an air of authenticity and help establish connections with Iranians seeking military equipment. He met Ardebili (operating under the alias, “Alex Dave”) at this show.

Ardebili’s past activities:

Ardebili once worked for Shiraz Electronic Industries (SEI), “placing orders with Iranian brokers who bought embargoed military goods from U.S. and European companies,” but struck out on his own as a broker in order to make more money. SEI itself then placed orders with him.

In 2004, Ardebili landed his first major deal, purchasing a radar-cloaking system worth $1 million from a “North American company.” He had it transshipped to Iran via Ukraine.

Read it all here.

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