- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2004

A Brooklyn man has been arrested by federal agents on charges of illegally shipping missile components, radar equipment and F-4 fighter parts through a company in Israel for later transfer to buyers in the Middle East.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Dean Boyd yesterday said Leib Kohn, 70, was arrested Friday on charges of violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. He was named last week in a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn.

His arrest corresponded to the arrest Thursday by Israeli police of Eli Cohen, an Israeli arms dealer investigated in the past in connection with the illegal shipment of weapons to Iran, according to Mr. Boyd. In 2002, Mr. Cohen was the focus of an Israeli probe into accusations he transferred parts for armored personnel carriers to Iran. A request by Israel police that he be indicted was later rejected by prosecutors.

According to the complaint, Mr. Kohn obtained from Radio Research Instrument Co., a Waterbury, Conn., manufacturer, munitions over several months whose export is controlled by the State Department. The complaint says he shipped the items to Israel without the required State Department licenses.

The complaint says some of the exported items were for use in military radar, F-4 Phantom jet fighter aircraft and missile systems, and they left the United States bound for Israel. Mr. Boyd said ICE agents do not believe Israel was the final destination, but an investigation is continuing.

The complaint also says ICE agents worked with the Israeli national police, requesting they search a warehouse owned by QPS, an Israeli company, where they recovered some of the items Mr. Kohn obtained in Connecticut — including components of the Hawk missile and parts used in a radar system installed in warplanes.

Mr. Kohn was released on $200,000 bond after a court appearance Friday before a U.S. magistrate. Prosecutors said they would present the case to a federal grand jury in an effort to obtain an indictment.

“This case demonstrates that those who endanger U.S. security for the sake of profits will ultimately be held accountable,” said Robin Avers, who heads the ICE office in New Haven, Conn. “Halting the illegal export of munitions and sensitive technology is one of the highest priorities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Mr. Boyd said the military items at the heart of the case represent “a threat to Americans at home and abroad.”

U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor in Bridgeport, whose office in handling the case, described assistance by the Israeli national police as “vital to the success of the investigation thus far,” adding that federal authorities would “continue to work with the international law enforcement community to ensure that military items built in the United States do not fall into the wrong hands.”

“This office is committed to preserving the integrity of the licensing process and will prosecute violations of the export statutes to the fullest extent,” Mr. O’Connor said.

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