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Thursday, August 14, 2003

ABC News (via This Modern World) must have read the New York Times (finally). It seemed pretty apparent from the New York Times article I linked yesterday that this was one heck of a set-up on the part of the government, and elsewhere around the web you could find discussion of whether or not it was entrapment. The relevant parts from the New York Times piece:

'The case was, in effect, a complex double sting operation that unfolded over months. On one side the Russians, alerted by the American authorities, supplied the arms trader with the missile, which he tried to sell to American agents posing as terrorists. No real terrorists were ever connected to the plot.'


'They said Russian agents, acting under cover, supplied the arms dealer, a British citizen of Indian descent, with the missile. The arms trader had the Russians ship the weapon to the United States, believing it to be fully operational [emphasis mine - this indicates that the missile was not operational]. He then tried to sell it to American law enforcement agents, also acting under cover, according to the authorities.'

'The arrest took place at a hotel near Newark Liberty International Airport after the dealer agreed to sell a highly sophisticated SA-18 missile to undercover agents. Russian undercover agents sent the missile to the United States aboard a ship that docked at an East Coast port. During the trip, the missile was under the control of Russian and American officials, who remained under cover.'

So, a guy puts out feelers in Russia that he wants to buy a shoulder-fired missile, Russian intelligence picks up on it and sets up this double-sting with the U.S. involving a fake missile -- certainly interesting with respect to the issue of entrapment. Our interest was piqued by the timing of the whole thing. The sting has been going on for months and just happens to coincide with the Bush administration's efforts to raise the issue of shoulder-launched missiles. However, as pointed out in the Times article and elsewhere this guy isn't a big player in the international arms trade, the big players won't go down because of their connections, and Al-Qaeda already has a stash of shoulder-launched missiles at its disposal (who knows how many more they've picked up in the free-for-all arms bazaar that's sprung up in Iraq). The _real_ progress on this issue will be made when the big guys stop operating and the U.S. seizes Al-Qaeda's missiles or successfully stops them from importing some to the U.S.

Andrew 8:43 AM : |


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