AFP: US justice officials on Tuesday charged four Singaporeans and one Iranian with fraudulently exporting radio equipment to Iran that subsequently ended up in roadside bombs in Iraq.
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US justice officials on Tuesday charged four Singaporeans and one Iranian with fraudulently exporting radio equipment to Iran that subsequently ended up in roadside bombs in Iraq.
At least 16 radio antennas were found in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq, the US Justice Department said in a statement, noting that the Iranian suspect in the case is still at large.
The indictment said thousands of antennas were meant to be exported from the United States to Iran, and in addition to the four Singaporeans, four companies from the Asian city state had been charged in the alleged plot.
Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top US military officer, said in July that Iran was stepping up its support for Shiite militants in Iraq, supplying them with more sophisticated weapons that were being used against American forces.
“Yesterday, authorities in Singapore arrested Wong Yuh Lan (Wong), Lim Yong Nam (Nam), Lim Kow Seng (Seng), and Hia Soo Gan Benson (Hia), all citizens of Singapore, in connection with a US request for extradition,” the justice department statement said.
“The United States is seeking their extradition to stand trial in the District of Columbia,” where the US capital Washington is located.
“The remaining individual defendant, Hossein Larijani, is a citizen and resident of Iran who remains at large,” it added.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco said the defendants had attempted to subvert export controls by sending US-origin components to Iran rather than their stated destination of Singapore.
“Ultimately, several of these components were found in unexploded improvised explosive devices in Iraq,” she said.
“This case underscores the continuing threat posed by Iranian procurement networks seeking to obtain US technology through fraud and the importance of safeguarding that technology.”
US Attorney Ronald Machen said the defendants misled US companies in buying parts that ended up in IEDs on the battlefield in Iraq. “We hope for a swift response from Singapore to our request for extradition,” he added.
US officials regularly accuse Iran of meddling in the politics of Baghdad’s Shiite-led government, and training and backing militant groups that target US troops in the south of Iraq.
Analysts have voiced concern that Tehran’s ability to interfere could increase as a result of President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that all US troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of this year.