- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

A 55-year-old Singaporean man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Baltimore to charges of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and money laundering.

Haniffa bin Osman, according to a plea agreement in the case, conspired from April to Sept. 29, 2006, with Haji Subandi and Erick Wotulo to provide 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, which is fighting against the government of Sri Lanka.

The agreement said the conspirators contacted an undercover business in Maryland about the sale of military weapons, requesting price quotes and negotiating the purchases, and that 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.

It said Subandi told the undercover business that Osman would inspect the weapons, and that Wotulo also advised that the chief of the Tamil Tigers requested that he and Osman travel to Baltimore to meet with the undercover agents.

“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 Baltimore for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“This three-year undercover investigation conducted by ICE, in collaboration with our federal and local law-enforcement partners, highlights the reach and impact of international arms trafficking,” he said. “As this case demonstrates, ICE has no tolerance for international arms brokers looking to equip terrorist organizations with advanced American weaponry.”

Osman is the third person to plead guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and three others have pleaded guilty to attempting to illegally export arms, said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in Maryland. He said his office would “use all available legal tools to prevent terrorism, including undercover operations targeting people who attempt to obtain military weapons in violation of American law.”

Court records show that Osman met with undercover agents in Baltimore in July 2006 and said the weapons were for the Tamil Tigers. They said Osman said he was not a group member but was helping them obtain weapons, and the agents showed Osman a variety of weapons, ammunition and night-vision devices.

While in Baltimore, the records show, Osman discussed the illegality of the transfer of the arms to the Tamil Tigers and provided navigational coordinates for a delivery in the Indian Ocean, saying if the first transfer of the weapons was successful, the second order could be worth as much as $15 million. On Aug. 1, 2006, according to the records, Osman told the undercover agents the Tamil Tigers had wired a deposit of $250,000 as a down payment on the purchase. The money was received the next day.

Osman faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for conspiracy and 20 years for money laundering. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled a June 25 sentencing date.

Subandi, 70, pleaded guilty on March 8, and Wotulo, 60, pleaded guilty on Feb. 23. Both are Indonesian citizens.

Founded in 1976, the Tamil Tigers have advocated the violent overthrow of the Sri Lankan government, employing acts of violence, including suicide bombings against both civilian and military targets.

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