Terror Arrest: Alleged Arms Dealer Taken Down in Spain

He is one of Iraq's most wanted, accused of supplying guns and explosives to insurgents and terrorists, and Friday the U.S. government announced the arrest of Monzer Al Kassar.

Karen Tandy of the Drug Enforcement Administration said Kassar, known as "The Prince of Marbella" for his lavish lifestyle, might not be a household name in the United States, but nevertheless, he is "a very grave threat."

"Where others see suffering, chaos and conflict, Kassar sees opportunity and dollar signs," she said.

Charges against the alleged international arms dealer include conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and money laundering.

Tracking Down Trafficking Networks

With Kassar's arrest, U.S. officials hope to begin chipping away at his purported arms trafficking networks that span most of the globe's hot spots.

Officials allege Kassar has supplied military equipment to insurgents in Iraq and has maintained close ties to Saddam Hussein's family. They also suspect him of supplying arms to the Palestinian Liberation Front and fueling conflicts from Iran, Iraq and Somalia to Bosnia and Croatia for more than 30 years.

The indictment, unsealed Friday also alleges Kassar and his associates agreed to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the FARC, a Colombian radical group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

The indictment describes the FARC as an organization that has been attempting to overthrow the Colombian government through violent methods and "also evolved into the world's largest supplier of cocaine."

The goal of the weapons sale, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, was to arm FARC members so they could murder Americans working to stop the flow of drugs from Colombia.

"He operates in the shadows, the silent partner behind the business of death and terror," said Tandy.

'Willingness' and 'Capacity' to Support Terrorists

"The arms deal was absolutely real," said U.S. attorney Michael Garcia of the Southern District of New York. "They demonstrated both their willingness to support a terrorist organization as well as their capacity to do so."

"They knew the weapons they agreed to sell were destined for terrorist organization[s]," Garcia continued. "They knew the arms were going to be used to kill Americans."

Missiles, Explosives and Guns

The U.S. government set a trap for Kassar in February 2006, when two confidential DEA sources met with Kassar at his opulent estate in Marbella, Spain -- a compound complete with 15 suites and a pool in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

The discussions reportedly centered on the sale of nearly 8,000 assault rifles, 120 grenade launchers, 2,400 grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition.

According to the indictment, Kassar also agreed to supply "surface-to-air missile systems for the FARC to use to attack United States helicopters in Colombia" and "C4 explosives, detonators and experts to train the FARC to use them against these United States armed forces."

Kassar also allegedly "offered to send 1,000 men … to fight with the FARC against United States military officers in Colombia."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...