March 8, 2007
BALTIMORE — Haji Subandi, 69, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, two counts of money laundering and attempted exportation of arms and munitions, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “We are committed to using all available legal tools to prevent terrorism, including undercover operations targeting people who attempt to obtain military weapons in violation of American law.
“Keeping sophisticated U.S. weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists has never been more important,” said James A. Dinkins, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Baltimore. “This three-year undercover investigation conducted by ICE, in collaboration with the our federal and local law enforcement partners, highlights the reach and impact of international arms trafficking. As this case demonstrates, ICE has no tolerance for international arms brokers looking to equip terrorist organizations with advanced American weaponry.”
Special agent in charge (SAC) William D. Chase, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office, said, "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. The FBI will continue to work to prevent any person from using the United States to raise funds or procure arms to commit acts of terrorism."
According to the plea agreement, from April to September 29, 2006, Subandi and Erick Wotulo conspired with others to export state-of-the-art firearms, machine guns and ammunition, surface-to air missiles, night vision goggles and other military weapons to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers) operating within Sri Lanka, to be used to fight against Sri Lankan government forces.
The conspirators contacted an undercover business located in Maryland about the sale of military weapons. Subandi and Wotulo aided in the acquisition and proposed delivery of military technology to the Tamil Tigers by 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 Tamil Tigers.
On June 7, 2006, Subandi e-mailed the undercover business that Tamil Tigers is a terrorist organization and is “sealed off by the U.S. government and the EU countries as terrorist.” In July, a conspirator met with undercover agents in Baltimore to inspect and test-fire some of the weapons.
Central to the plan to acquire arms and munitions for the Tamil Tigers was the international wire transfer on Aug. 2, 2006, of $250,000 into an undercover bank account in Maryland. This transfer was a down payment for the arms, and the conduct is reflected in the money laundering charge contained in count three of the superseding indictment. An additional $452,000 payment was transferred on Sept. 28, 2006 for the arms.
In September 2006, Subandi repeatedly met with undercover agents in Guam, and discussed current and future sales of weapons and other technology to the Tamil Tigers and to other customers. He was arrested on Sept. 28, 2006.
On Sept. 24, 2006, Subandi, Rinehard Rusli and Helmi Soedirdja contacted undercover agents to acquire monocular night vision devices and a holographic weapons sight from the United States to the Indonesia. On Aug. 31, 2006, Rusli and Soedirdja transmitted $2,950 from Indonesia to the United States to obtain the items, which contain military technology that cannot be exported without a license or written authorization from the State Department. Subandi, Rusli and Soedirdja arrived in Guam from Indonesia on Sept. 21, 2006, and subsequently met with undercover agents to examine the night vision devices. They also discussed the future acquisition of additional military use technology items. Satisfied with the night vision devices and holographic weapons sight, Rusli and Soedirdja placed the items in their luggage and traveled to the airport in Guam to return to Indonesia. ICE agents detained them at the airport and the devices were recovered from their luggage. Subandi stayed in Guam to attend to matters relating to the arms acquisition for the Tamil Tigers.
Wotulo, 59, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, and a retired Indonesian Marine Corps General, pleaded guilty on Feb. 23, 2007, to conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and money laundering. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for money laundering. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled Wotulo’s sentencing for May 25, 2007, at 10 a.m.
Rinehard Rusli, 34, and Helmi Soedirdja, 33, both citizens of Indonesia, pleaded guilty to attempting to illegally export arms and money laundering on Jan. 30, 2007. They face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release and a $500,000 fine for money laundering and 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $1,000,000 fine for attempted exportation of arms. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled their sentencing for April 27, 2007, at 11 a.m.
Founded in 1976, the Tamil Tigers has advocated the violent overthrow of the Sri Lankan government, employing acts of violence, including suicide bombings, against both civilian and military targets. Approximately 200 such attacks have been attributed to the Tamil Tigers to date. The Tamil Tigers rely heavily upon supporters throughout the world to raise and launder money, acquire intelligence and purchase military use technology. The State Department designated the Tamil Tigers as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in1997. As such, the Tamil Tigers cannot legally raise money or procure operational equipment in the United States.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI and the Baltimore City Police Department. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Maryland James G. Warwick, and Harry M. Gruber, who are prosecuting the case; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg, Chief of National Security, who is supervising the case.
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