- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2005

A Pakistani national convicted of illegally exporting Hawk missile parts to Iran nearly 20 years ago faces new charges of illegally exporting components for U.S. fighter jet engines to foreign customers, federal authorities said yesterday.

Arif Ali Durrani, 55, was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at Los Angeles International Airport this week after his arrival aboard a flight from Mexico City en route to Pakistan, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia said.

Durrani was taken into custody on a sealed indictment and arrest warrant issued in California in May 1999, charging him with two counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act, said Mr. Garcia, who heads ICE.

He said the indictment accuses Durrani of using his now-defunct company, Lonestar Aerospace in Ventura, Calif., to illegally export more than 100 compressor blades for the General Electric J-85 military aircraft engine to foreign customers in 1994.

The engine is the primary power source for the F-5E “Tiger II” fighter and the T-38 “Talon” trainer aircraft. The compressor blades are classified as “defense articles” by the United States, making their export subject to strict controls.

Mr. Garcia said anyone attempting to export U.S. defense articles must be registered with the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls and must apply for and receive a license or other approval. He said the indictment charges that Durrani exported the defense articles without the required license or approval from the State Department.

“Durrani once again stands accused of illegally exporting American military components,” Mr. Garcia said. “By arresting illegal arms dealers, particularly those with a history of selling U.S. military hardware to state sponsors of terrorism, ICE is helping to keep sensitive U.S. weapons technology from falling into the wrong hands.”

In October 1986, ICE agents in Connecticut arrested Durrani on charges that he illegally exported guidance systems for the Hawk anti-aircraft missile from the United States to Iran without the required State Department license.

At his trial, Durrani unsuccessfully argued that his actions were part of a U.S. government-sanctioned covert operation in connection with the Iran-Contra affair. Among other claims, Durrani said his illegal arms shipments to Iran were authorized by Lt. Col. Oliver North, the former National Security Council aide.

In April 1987, a federal jury found Durrani guilty on three counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act. He was barred by the State Department from exporting any defense articles from the United States.

Durrani served his prison sentence and was released in September 1992. The former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) then sought to deport him based on his conviction. In January 1998, Durrani voluntarily left the United States and is believed to have been living in Mexico since.

Mexican law-enforcement officials arrested Durrani on June 12 for being in Mexico illegally. He was being deported to his native Pakistan when ICE agents took him into custody.


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