Subject: Indonesian arms dealer pleads guilty to supplying terror group

Indonesian arms dealer pleads guilty to supplying terror group

BALTIMORE, March 9 (AP) - An international arms dealer from Indonesia pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to conspiring to export guns, surface-to-air missiles and other military hardware to a terrorist group known as the Tamil Tigers.

Haji Subandi, 69, was involved in two separate arms-dealing conspiracies -- one to funnel weapons to the Tamil Tigers and another to illegally export arms to Indonesia, federal prosecutors said.

Subandi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; attempted exportation of arms and munitions; and two counts of money laundering. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years for the conspiracy, 10 years for trying to export arms and 20 years for each count of money laundering.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting since the 1970s for a separate state on the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka. The group was added to the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997. The designation bars the group from raising money, obtaining weaponry or lobbying for support in the United States.

Two people charged in the Tamil Tigers deal, Haniffa Bin Osman and Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, are scheduled to go to trial on May 14.

Three people have pleaded guilty to conspiring with Subandi to export arms to Indonesia, including a retired Indonesian Marine Corps general, Erick Wotulo, who also pleaded guilty in the Tamil Tigers conspiracy. All three face decades in prison.

According to the plea deal, Subandi contacted an undercover business in Maryland about selling military weapons and sent an itemized list of 53 weapons he wanted to acquire for the Tamil Tigers. He sent Wotulo and Bin Osman to Baltimore to meet with undercover agents, and he transferred more than $700,000 into a bank account controlled by the agents to pay for the weapons.

Subandi was arrested in September 2006 after he met with undercover agents in Guam.

"The disruption of the supply chain of this organization should reassure the public that the U.S. government is committed to dismantling terrorist groups worldwide," said William D. Chase, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field office.


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