Jim Kouri
Arms-trafficker Monzer Al Kassar, associate imprisoned for terrorism
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By Jim Kouri
February 25, 2009

(Information for the following news report was obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration.)

Monzer Al Kassar, a/k/a "Abu Munawar," a/k/a "El Taous," the leader of an international arms-trafficking ring, was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in prison for conspiring to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to be used to kill Americans in Colombia.

Al Kassar's associate and co-defendant Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy. United States District Judge Jed S. Rakoff imposed the sentences Tuesday in the Manhattan federal courtroom.

Al Kassar and Moreno Godoy had both been found guilty on Nov. 20, 2008, following a three-week jury trial, of: conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals; conspiracy to murder U.S. officers; conspiracy to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the FARC), a designated foreign terrorist organization; and money laundering.

According to the evidence at trial: As part of an undercover DEA sting operation, between February 2006 and June 2007, Al Kassar and Moreno Godoy agreed to sell to the FARC more than 12,000 weapons — including thousands of machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and surface-to-air missile systems, or "SAMs" — along with 2 million rounds of ammunition.

The agreement was discussed and made during a series of recorded telephone calls, email correspondence, and in-person meetings with two confidential sources working with the DEA, who represented that they were acquiring these weapons for the FARC, with the specific understanding that the weapons were to be used to attack United States helicopters in Colombia.

During their meetings, Al Kassar provided the DEA undercover agents with, among other things: a schematic of the vessel to be used to transport the weapons; specifications for the SAMs he agreed to sell to the FARC; and bank accounts in Spain and Lebanon which ultimately were used to receive and conceal more than $400,000 sent from DEA undercover accounts that the DEA undercovers said were FARC drug proceeds for the weapons deal.

During his meetings with the DEA undercover agents, Al Kassar reviewed Nicaraguan end-user certificates and accepted them despite knowing that the arms were destined for the FARC in Colombia. Al Kassar also promised to provide the FARC with ton-level quantities of C-4 explosives, as well as expert trainers to teach the FARC how to effectively use C-4 and other explosive devices against the United States.

In addition, Al Kassar offered to send a thousand men to fight with the FARC against U.S. military officers in Colombia, and to make training camps in Al Kassar's country available to the FARC.

In addition to the terms of imprisonment, Judge Rakoff also sentenced both Al Kassar and Moreno Godoy to 5 years supervised release. Al Kassar was also ordered to forfeit all foreign and domestic assets.

This case was the result of cooperation between the DEA, the Spanish National Police, and the Romanian Border Police. Mr. Dassin praised the investigative work of the DEA, the Spanish National Police, and the Romanian Border Police. Mr. Dassin also thanked the United States Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs and the United States Department of State. He further expressed appreciation to the United States Embassies in Spain and Romania.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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