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WAR ON TERRORISM:
International Undercover Operation Stings Deal for Surface-to-Air Missiles

08/13/03

International Undercover Operation Sting graphicOn August 12, an individual was arrested in New Jersey, charged with the crimes of providing material support for terrorist acts and smuggling firearms into the United States. And not just any firearm, but an IGLA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile.

The buyer? Fortunately the FBI...pretending to be a member of a terrorist cell.

The seller? Fortunately undercover Russian FSB agents.

The broker? A citizen of the U.K., born in India. He was assisted in financial transactions by two others in New York, who were also arrested on August 12 on money laundering and conspiracy charges.

The target? The United States of America.

This extraordinary story began in the closing months of 2001 when the FBI first made contact with the broker. From that time until the broker's arrest, over 200 conversations took place--over the telephone and in person, most of them video and audio recorded. Meetings took place in New Jersey, New York, and St. Petersberg, Russia. The deal was $85,000 for a first surface-to-air missile coming from Russia, transshipped through St. Petersberg...with as many as 50 missiles to follow.

With the assistance of the Russian government, and particularly the Russian FSB, a replica was substituted for the real missile...and an empty crate, with a bill of lading citing "medical equipment" affixed to it, was shipped to the U.S. Truly an unprecedented international joint undercover operation with the Russian FSB.

All in all, an important lesson in teamwork: In today's global village, it takes the concerted efforts of governments--in this case the Russian government and its Federal Security Service, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Newark and New York, and the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement--to protect citizens everywhere against the greed of international criminals and the wrath of terrorists.