US charges six with shipping arms to Tamil Tigers, Indonesia

Image courtesy of Sanjeewa Dayarathne (www.Feedback.lk)

WASHINGTON, Sept 29, 2006 (AFP) – US authorities said Friday they had charged six Asian men with conspiracy to ship arms, including submachine guns and sniper rifles, to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers and unnamed customers in Indonesia. The men, arrested in Guam, are accused of acting as brokers between weapons manufacturers and the Tigers, which is designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US government.

According to officials, the men were snared by a sting operation in which undercover agents posed as arms brokers.

If found guilty of conspiracy to export arms and munitions and of providing material support to a foreign terrorist group, the defendants face various sentences of up to 20 years in prison and half million dollar fines.

“We will not allow any such terrorist organization and its middlemen to use the United States as a source of supply for weapons, technology and financial resources,” said US Attorney Rod Rosenstein.

Those charged were named as Haniffa bin Osman, 55, of Singapore; Erick Wotulo, 60 and Haji Subandi, 69 of Indonesia; Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, 36 of Sri Lanka; Reinhard Rusli, 34 and Helmi Soedirdja of Indonesia.

The indictment alleges that the first four defendents conspired t