A federal grand jury in Miami, Florida has indicted an Israeli defense consultant and an American citizen of conspiring to transfer hundreds of AK-47s to northern Somalia.
Chanoch Miller, an Israeli aeronautical engineer who previously served as an executive with Israel’s Radom Aviation, was indicted on June 17, 2010 on seven counts of conspiring to export defense equipment to an embargoed nation, Somalia, money laundering, providing false end user certificates, and related charges.
His co-defendant’s name is redacted in the indictment but is described as an American citizen.
Beginning in April, according to the indictment, Miller conspired with his American co-defendant to find an air cargo service to fly hundreds of AK-47s from Bosnia to the northern Somalian city of Banderal, using false end user certificates of Chad, in violation of U.S. arms export control laws. Somalia is under a UN arms embargo. But the transport services source they contacted turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Customs and Immigrations Enforcement (ICE) agency, the indictment describes.
“On April 15, 2010, [redacted name of co-defendant] sent an email to an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement confidential informant (hereafter CI) and asked if CI had Antonov 12 or similar line [aircraft] available for two charter flights from Bosnia to Africa to lift 12 tons on each flight for two round trips, landing in Africa “to unload mil equipments” and return to Bosnia for a second trip,” the indictment reads.
“On April 21, 2010, [blacked out] sent an email to the CI and advised the CI that the cargo would be Boxed AK-47s, 6 to 7.6 tons, and that the CI could choose to use AN26 or AN12 aircraft from Tuzla Bosnia to Banderal, Northern Somalia and that payment would be made by wire transfer or cash before departure.”
“On April 21, 2010, [blacked out] sent an email to the CI and advised that he has enough cargo for 100 flights if the first flight is successful.”
“On April 28, 2010, [blacked out] sent an email to the CI and also sent a copy of the email to CHANOCH MILLER and advised that CHANOCH MILLER, who was the buyer in Israel and who would sign the contract and pay the CI, had accepted the price at least verbally but was hoping to get the first flight done sooner.”
Miller arranged through the same confidential informant to purchase 700 AK-47s, 200 in the U.S. and 500 in Panama, and fly them to Somaliland earlier this month. On June 15, 2010, the indictment states, Miller wired $116,000 from an Israeli bank to a Broward County, Florida Wells Fargo branch to pay for the air services including a $2,000 commission for his co-defendant, the indictment said.
The case against Miller was brought by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Walleisa.
Miller was arrested on June 18th, court documents show, and was due to be arraigned today. The indictment of his co-defendant is sealed, until his arrest or August 9, 2010, whichever comes first.
In February, Somaliland local press cited an Israeli foreign ministry official that Israel was considering recognizing Somaliland as an independent country, but the official has denied ever making such a statement and said the local media had made it up.
"It's pure fabrication," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told POLITICO Monday. "A few months ago, someone brought my attention to the fact that a pro-Somaliland website quotes an interview I supposedly gave to the Israeli paper Haaretz in which I supposedly said a few things. I never spoke to Haaretz on any subject to do with Somalia or freedom of Somaliland. It's pure fabrication. And you know what, the funniest thing, after this is published, and circulated on pro-Somaliland websites, pro-Somaliland activists are asking me to be their friend on Facebook."
Somaliland, a former British colony, is strategically located in the Gulf of Aden. The breakaway republic held elections on Sunday which international observers declared free and fair.
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