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Another arms dealer pleads guilty in the Tamil Tiger sting operation

By Walter Jayawardhana


Another Indonesian arms dealer, Hadji Subandi (69) pleaded guilty in the second Tamil Tiger sting operation case before a Baltimore USA federal judge for attempting to smuggle sophisticated weapons to the foreign terrorist group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Subandi pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, as well as two counts of money laundering and the attempted exportation of arms and munitions, federal prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled Subandi’s sentencing for June 15. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for the conspiracy charge, 20 years for each of two money-laundering charges and 10 years for the attempted exportation of arms, according to federal prosecutors.

Making a statement after the guilty plea Maryland US Attorney Rod J. Rosentein said “We are committed to using all available legal tools to prevent terrorism, including undercover operations targeting people who attempt to obtain military weapons in violation of American law.”

Three of the other Indonesian men arrested with Subandi have pleaded guilty before, and the other two a Singaporan and a Sri Lankan Tamil are scheduled for trial in May.

Subandi had been arrested in September 2006 with five other suspected arms dealers after an elaborate sting operation. As part of the sting, alleged representatives of the Tamil Tigers deposited $700,000 with undercover agents as a down payment for millions of dollars in sniper rifles, submachine guns and grenade launchers, officials say.

In this second successful sting operation conducted by the US federal government against Tamil terrorist arms buying in the US Federal Agents arrested five Asian buyers and one Sri Lankan Tamil for trying to buy US Dollars 900,000 dollars worth of surface to air missiles and other sophisticated military weapons for Sri Lanka’s separatist terrorists, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Apart from the missiles, the LTTE brokers were trying to buy grenade launchers, submachine guns, sniper rifles and night vision goggles.

The accused were negotiating with a bogus company put up by the US to buy surface to air missiles and other weapons, “an arsenal of U.S. military hardware — enough to inflict serious casualties on any military force, let alone a civilian population,” a US official said after the arrests.

One of the suspects who was arrested as a result of this sting operation , one Haniffa bin Osman of Singapore traveled to the United States in July 2006 and stayed in a Baltimore Four Star hotel in the city’s inner harbor, dining and wining with the officials, US officials revealed.

At one point the arms buyer for the LTTE, Haniffa bin Osman was taken to a police firing range at Havre de Grace, in the US state of Maryland, close to Baltimore and was allowed to test fire some weapons he was planning to buy but the police had surreptitiously removed the signs that indicated that it was a police firing range before his arrival, officials said.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said the suspects were arrested Thursday(Sept.28) and Friday (Sept. 29) 2006 in Guam, where they had met with undercover agents to finalize the delivery of the weapons to the LTTE. Guam is an island that belongs to the United States.

According to an indictment unsealed the Singapoerean, Osman, (55), and Indonesian nationals Erick Wotulo,(60), and Haji Subandi, (69) were accused of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization, conspiring to export arms without a required State Department license and money laundering. A related criminal complaint filed in Guam charges Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa (36), a citizen of Sri Lanka, as a participant in the alleged conspiracy to export arms. He was to finally inspect the weapons for the LTTE before the final payments were to be made.

Subandi was also charged in a separate complaint, along with two other Indonesian nationals, with conspiring to ship state-of the-art night vision goggles to Indonesia without the necessary State Department approvals. Authorities said Subandi described the other defendants — Reinhard Rusli, 34, and Helmi Soedirdja, 33 — as his financial partners in that transaction.

Subandi, Wotulo, Rusli and Soedirja have so far pleaded guilty.


March 10, 2007 - Posted by | News and politics

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