For the past five years, dozens of Iranian agents have infiltrated the United States with the intention to steal or sell weapons, aircraft parts, and precious information to Tehran.The Department of Justice has a report that compiles all of the successful or ongoing prosecutions of these illegal exports, and we went through it to find the most daring instances of people trying to get U.S. technology into Iran for use in their military, missile or nuclear engineering programs.
We looked at the past five years specifically, and made this timeline of major busts and arrests.
In 2007, Reza Tabib was sentenced to two years in prison after federal agents intercepted F-14 maintenance kits that Tabib was sending to Iran.
Any export of F-14 parts raises federal eyebrows, as Iran is the only military that still flies the fighter.
After searching his California home, the feds found over 13,000 aircraft parts and several 'shopping lists' that had been given to Tabib and his wife by an Iranian military officer.
Tabib pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and his wife was sentenced to 2 years probation.
In 2008, Seyed Maghloubi admitted that he plotted to illegally export 100,000 Uzi submachine guns as well as night vision goggles to Iran's government.
Maghloubi was caught by the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI after trying to have the weapons shipped to Dubai, where they would eventually be smuggled into Iran.
He was sentenced to three years and five months in prison.
Jilani Humayun exported Chinook Helicopter, F-5 and F-15 parts to Malaysia that may have found their way to Tehran on eleven separate occasions
Jilaniu Humayun plead guilty in June 2008 to conspiracy, illegally exporting arms and money laundering after exporting jet fighter parts to Malaysia on nearly a dozen occasions through his front corporation, Vash International.
Humayun, a Pakistani living in Long Island, exported parts for the F-5 and F-14 and the Chinook Helicopter. He lied about what he was shipping, and his export of the F-14 parts may enabled Iranian buyers to maintain their decade-old fighter jet fleet.
Mohammad Reza Alavi stole nuclear power training software from his plant and gave it to Iran in exchange for a job
Alavi, a software engineer for the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona, quit his job and walked out with $400,000 worth of software used to train control room personnel on the operation of reactors.
He then took his laptop with Iran 'for use in future employment in the nuclear industry,' according to the Justice Department's Report.
How he got caught is the fascinating part. Alavi accessed the software vendor's website from Iran when trying to obtain the code to activate the software.
In December 2008, Mohammad Reza Alavi was sentenced to 15 months in prison after an incredible violation of the Iranian sanctions.
Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan tried to get 3,500 night vision goggles for Iranian military and police forces
Gholikan was sentenced to more than five years in prison after being caught by undercover officers in Austria trying to sell thousands of night vision goggles to Iran.
She and her husband tried to export the goggles from Austria to Iran directly, but after that plan fell through the Iranian embassy agreed to coordinate the transportation.
Undercover agents received the first sample shipment of the Generation III military-grade nightvision goggles, then arrested her.
Her husband remains a fugitive.
Hossein Ali Khoshnevisrad used multiple front companies to buy helicopter engines and aerial cameras for Iran
Using front companies in Malaysia, Ireland, and the Netherlands, Khoshnevisrad's Tehran-based Ariasa, AG company bought 17 Rolls-Royce engines for $4.27 million.
One of the recipients of the engines was the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company which is controlled by the Ministry of defence.
He also acquired multiple aerial cameras used for surveillance cameras used on bombers and fighters such as the F-4E Phantom, currently used by the Iranian military.
Khoshnevisrad was arrested in San Fransisco in 2009
Majid Kakavand exported thousands of military and commercial items to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs
Kakavand and two co-defendants purchased thousands of military items in the United States and exported them to two Iranian military entities that the U.S. believes represent the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Kakavand purchased the tech through his Malaysian company from companies in New Jersey, California, Alabama, Florida and Washington.
Many of these parts -- for instance, 41,900 radial connectors purchased in 2008 -- have industrial uses in missile tech.
The group, which also involved five different companies along the supply chain, would receive orders from a conspirator in California for aircraft parts needed in Iran.
The part would be shipped to Iran via Dubai.
The consortium shipped parts to multiple aircraft including:
- F-5 Tiger Fighter Jet
- Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter
- CH-53 Military Helicopter
- F-14 Tomcat Fighter Jet
- UH-1 Huey Military Helicopter
The conspiracy was indicted in April 2009 and Fattahi served 35 months in prison.
Amir Hossein Ardebili was outed as a major arms acquisition agent for Iran after a three year undercover operation
In December 2009 Ardebili plead guilty to multiple violations of the Arms Export Control Act after making a career of flaunting the law. Here are some of his major acquisitions for Iran:
- The QRS-11 Gyro Chip Sensor, used in missiles and space applications
- The MAPCGM0003 Phase Shifter, which is crucial for targeting systems, missile guidance, and advanced radar systems
- The Digital Air Data Computer, which replaces and completely upgrades the F-4 fighter aircraft computer
He was sentenced to five years in prison.
This one was just flagrant.
Yi-Lan Chen, using his Taiwanese Landstar Tech Company, served as the middleman between Iranian orders and U.S. businesses. The U.S. companies were wholly unaware of who the end user was. He worked for buyers for the Electro SANAM Industries, a front company for the Iranian ballistic missile program.
Here's one email Chen sent to a buyer:
'As you know, we cannot tell USA this connector is for you. So we have to tell a white lie to USA that this is for our factory in Hong Kong.'
Chen was sentenced to four years in prison in August 2010.
In 2005, Iran launched its very first satellite, Sina-1. It couldn't have been possible without the tireless work os Nader Modanlo of Potomac, Maryland.
Modanlo and five Iranian nationals illegally provided satellite hardware to the Iranian Space Agency using multiple sham companies which resulted in the craft.
For his services, Modanlo was wired $10 million from an overseas account.
Modanlo was indicted on June 2, 2010.
Belgian Jacques Monsieur was an international arms dealer who tried to get F-5 engines to the Iranians
Monsieur had a massive international operation, and was theatrically arrested after arriving in New York from a flight coming from Panama.
Monsieur -- with his vast network -- tried to send the jet parts to Iran by way of Colombia and the United Arab Emirates. He was charged with conspiring to illegally export F-5 fighter jet engines and parts, money laundering and smuggling.
He was supposed to get $300,000 for the engines. He already got $110,000 for the parts.
He also got 23 months imprisonment in 2010.
In 2010 Knapp was charged with illegally exporting goods to Iran by way of Hungary over the course of seven months. He was nailed by undercover agents.
One of his most bold sales was an attempt to export a complete F-5 Tiger II fighter jet. He also tried to sell F-14 ejection seats, sophisticated flight suits, and manuals for U.S. fighter jets.
He pleaded guilty in January of 2011.
In February 2011 Milad Jafari was indicted on charges that he illegally exported specialised metals to Iran through Turkey.
Jafari's network provided direct support to Iran's missile development industry, sending over steel, aluminium alloys, hundreds of pounds of specialised wire, and fibre optic equipment.
He was eventually busted by the FBI and the enforcement arm of the Commerce Department.
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