Spain puts arms dealer in jail

Monzer al-Kassar held as he awaits extradition to US over arms supply to Farc.

    Al-Kassar denies the charges of weapons transfer
    to Farc, a Colombian leftist group [EPA]

    US authorities are seeking the extradition of al-Kassar and two other men arrested in Romania.


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


    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 US interests in Colombia".


    "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

    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."


    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 Farc.


    Al-Kassar is also reportedly on the Iraqi government's most-wanted list for allegedly arming anti-government fighters.

    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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