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Authorities detain a weapons smuggler associated with Islamists

10 December 2015 / 14:12:44  GRReporter
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In a well-organized operation the Greek police detained in Athens one of the biggest weapons smugglers in the world for whom the US authorities had issued an international arrest warrant. According to the newspaper Kathimerini, the 49-year-old man is a citizen of the US and Jordan, and the owner of a trading company based in the Jordanian capital Amman.

A member of a US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) had met with him, pretending to be a "salesman" of military sniper rifles with sights and saying that he would supply him with much more advanced weapons systems. The smuggler made a "test" purchase of sniper rifles worth around 250,000 euro and said he would make larger orders in the future.

According to the deal, the "goods" would arrive in a container from Italy and be unloaded in a warehouse in the Athens suburb of Aspropyrgos. The smuggler closely monitored all these processes and followed the instructions of the “sellers”.

He arrived in Greece on 5 December and went to the warehouse in Aspropyrgos three days later to receive the consignment that actually was an empty container subject to control during transportation.

The two men had met for the first time in a cafeteria in the centre of Athens in September 2014 in connection with the purchase of 200 sniper rifles and as many sights and thermal cameras. During the subsequent contacts, the 49-year-old man revealed to the American agent that the people who financed him were in Beirut and that the weapons purchased were sent to Iraq.

According to the US authorities, the apprehended smuggler was a weapons supplier of the militant Hezbollah organization, other armed organizations in the Middle East and organizations that operate in Iran, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine.

Sources from the Greek Ministry of Citizen Protection have not excluded that the 49-year-old man may be a controlled internal informant on orders for weapons supplies to armed groups.

The US National Security Service notified the Greek police two months ago and throughout this period the authorities of both countries exchanged information on the case. As a result of their joint actions, the 49-year-old man was apprehended in the centre of Athens at noon on Tuesday.

In his room at the luxury hotel where he was staying, the authorities have found and seized a personal computer and USB sticks that will be handed over to the American authorities for them to be examined.

The secret operation to apprehend the smuggler involved members of the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Greek office for combating drug and weapons trafficking at the Greek Economic Crime Unit.

After the arrest, the man was detained in the building of the central police station of Attica. The procedure for his extradition to the United States has been triggered already.

Tags: Crime newsGreek policeArrestWeapons smugglerLinks with IslamistsUS servicesHomeland Security Investigations
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