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US jails Tiger arms dealers

Lankan, Singaporean, two Indonesians convicted:

US: Federal prosecutors in Baltimore say a Singaporean man was sentenced to three years for his part in buying missiles and guns for Sri Lankan terrorists.

On Thursday, 57-year-old Haniffa Bin Osman was sentenced for buying surface-to-air missiles, night vision devices, machine guns and other weapons.

Osman pleaded guilty to a conspiracy in 2006 with three other men to buy the weaponry and military equipment for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, age 38, a citizen of Sri Lanka, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 57 months in prison for the conspiracy and attempted arms exportation.

Haji Subandi, age 71, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 37 months in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering and attempted exportation of arms and munitions.

Erick Wotulo, age 60, a citizen of Indonesia, and a retired Indonesian Marine Corps General, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 months in prison for the conspiracy and money laundering.

Prosecutors say the men were also trying to set up a second purchase of weapons, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles which could have totalled $15 million.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Osman, a citizen of the Republic of Singapore, to 37 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and money laundering, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

Rosenstein said: “Bin Osman conspired with others to provide material support to the Tigers and attempted to illegally export arms, including state of the art firearms, grenade launchers, night vision devices, surface to air missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.

We will use all available legal tools to prevent terrorism, including undercover operations targeting people who attempt to obtain military weapons in violation of American law.”

According to the plea agreement, from April to September 29, 2006 Osman conspired with Haji Subandi, Erick Wotulo and Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa to provide state-of-the-art firearms, machine guns and ammunition, surface to air missiles, night vision goggles and other military weapons to the LTTE operating within Sri Lanka, to be used to fight against Sri Lankan Government Forces.

The conspirators contacted an undercover business in Maryland about the sale of military weapons, requesting price quotes and negotiating the purchases. Subandi sent an itemized list of 53 military weapons, including sniper rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers that he wanted to acquire for the Tigers.

Subandi advised the undercover business that Osman would inspect the weapons for the Tigers. Wotulo also advised that the chief of Tigers requested that he and Osman travel to Baltimore to meet with the undercover agents.

In July 2006, Osman met with undercover agents in Baltimore and stated that the weapons were for the Tigers. Osman said that he was not a Tiger member but was helping them obtain weapons. The agents showed Osman a number of weapons, ammunition and night vision devices.

While in Baltimore, Osman discussed the illegality of the transfer of the arms to the Tigers and provided navigational coordinates for a delivery in the Indian Ocean. Osman stated that if the first transfer of the weapons were successful, the second order could be worth as much as $15 million.

Osman also inquired about pricing for unmanned aerial vehicles, and test-fired several weapons, including machine guns and sniper rifles. Osman discussed the commission he would receive for the arms sale and stated that Varatharasa would inspect the weapons and travel on the boat which was to carry the weaponry to the delivery point.

He also raised the possibility that members of the Sea Tigers, the Marine Unit of the Tigers, would also escort the weapons to their final destination.

US Department of Justice

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