Here's a scenario that's sure to make your head spin. Unfortunately, it's not a chapter from a spy novel. It's real life.
Military hardware, manufactured in the United States, finding its way to the Iranian military.
How is this possible?
Well, according to the allegations contained in a federal indictment, an Iranian national, using shadow companies in Malaysia, Ireland and the Netherlands, purchased the hardware on behalf of his government.
The man, Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad, is charged with purchasing helicopter engines and advanced aerial cameras for fighter bombers from U.S. firms and illegally exporting them to Iran. Among the alleged recipients of these U.S. goods was an Iranian military firm designated by the United states as being owned or controlled by entities involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
The charges against Khoshnevisrad, 55, and his Iranian company, Ariasa, AG (Ariasa), were announced today by the Justice Department. He was arrested on Saturday, March 14, after he arrived at San Francisco International Airport on a flight from abroad. He made his initial appearance earlier today in federal court in San Francisco.
A criminal complaint filed under seal in federal court in the District of Columbia in August 2008 and unsealed today, charges the defendants each with two counts of unlawfully exporting U.S. goods to Iran and two counts of conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions Regulations. If convicted, Khoshnevisrad faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the first three counts of the complaint and a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the fourth count of the complaint.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, from January 2007 through December 2007, Khoshnevisrad and Ariasa caused and instructed a trading company in Ireland to purchase several model 250 turbo-shaft helicopter engines from Rolls-Royce Corp. in Indiana. The model 250 engine was originally designed for a U.S. Army light observation helicopter and has since been installed in numerous civil and military helicopters. In 2007, the Irish trading company purchased 17 of the model 250 helicopter engines from Rolls-Royce for $4.27 million, allegedly falsely stating that the helicopters would be used by the Irish trading company or by fake companies.
The affidavit alleges that these helicopter engines were then exported from the United States to a purported “book publisher” in Malaysia, at a Malaysian freight forwarding company address, and later shipped on to Iran. Among the recipients in Iran was the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company, known by its Iranian acronym as HESA.
On Sept. 17, 2008, the Treasury Department designated HESA as a among several Iranian proliferators of weapons of mass destruction controlled by Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. The government believes HESA has provided support to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
In addition to the alleged illegal export of helicopter engines, the affidavit alleges that Khoshnevisrad and Ariasa also arranged for aerial panorama cameras from the United States to be exported to Iran. The cameras were designed for the U.S. Air Force for use on bombers, fighters and surveillance aircraft, including the F-4E Phantom fighter bomber, which is currently used by the Iranian military.
According to the affidavit, in 2006, Khoshnevisrad instructed a Dutch aviation parts company to place an order for these cameras with a Pennsylvania company and to ship them to an address in Iran.
The affidavit charges that the Dutch company ordered the aerial panorama cameras from the Pennsylvania firm, falsely stating that the Netherlands would be the final destination for the cameras. In an e-mail to the Dutch company, Khoshnevisrad provided the following instructions: “Regarding the end user as you know USA will not deliver to Iran in any case. You should give them an end user by yourself.”
In August 2006, a representative of the Dutch company notified Khoshnevisrad that he had received the cameras from the United States and that the cameras would soon be shipped to Tehran aboard an Iran Air flight, according to the affidavit.
Despite these alleged transactions, neither Khoshnevisrad nor Ariasa has ever sought, obtained or possessed any authorization or license from the U.S. government to export any goods or technology to Iran.We talk about issues like this and more weekdays at 5 PM NY time on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com