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Syrian arms dealer held in Spain
US wants Monzer al-Kassar extradited over charges he armed Colmbian fighters.
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2007 19:20 GMT
Al-Kassar was known as the 'Prince of Marbella' 
because of his lavish lifestyle [EPA]
Spanish police have arrested a Syrian arms dealer suspected of supplying weapons to leftist Colombian fighters.

Monzer al-Kassar was arrested at Madrid airport on Thursday evening, the Spanish interior ministry said.

US authorities are seeking the extradition of al-Kassar and two other men arrested in Romania.
The arrest of al-Kassar has "finally brought one of the world's most prolific arms traffickers to justice", Michael Garcia, US attorney, said on Friday.

Al-Kassar is accused of selling millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), a group classified in the US as a terrorist organisation.

 

The two other men, Tareq Mousa al Ghazi and Luis Filipe Moreno Godoy, were arrested as part of the same investigation.

Indictment

An indictment unsealed in New York on Friday said the men had agreed to provide the weapons for the Farc "to use to protect their cocaine-trafficking business and to attack United States interests in Colombia".
   
Garcia told a news conference: "They knew the weapons they agreed to sell were destined for a terrorist organisation. They knew the arms were going to be used to kill Americans."

"They knew the weapons they agreed to sell were destined for a terrorist organisation. They knew the arms were going to be used to kill Americans"

Michael Garcia,
US attorney
The three men are also charged with conspiracy to kill US nationals, conspiracy to kill officers and employees of the US, conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, and money laundering.


Prosecutors said al-Kassar and Ghazi met two confidential sources working with the US Drug Enforcement Administration at al-Kassar's home in February and discussed the sale of weapons to the Farc.

 

Al-Kassar, who is also reportedly on the Iraqi government's most-wanted list for allegedly arming anti-government fighters, went before a Spanish judge in Madrid on Friday.

A longtime Spanish resident known as the "Prince of Marbella" for his opulent lifestyle, al-Kassar has previously sold weapons to the Palestinian Liberation Front, Nicaragua, Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Iraq and Somalia since the 1970s, the US embassy in Madrid said.

In 1995, he was acquitted by Spain's high court of a charge of piracy in connection with the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro by Palestinian fighters.

Source:
Agencies
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