Somewhere in the Sands of the Desert

It’s strange that the Iranians would be so careless as to let one of their surveillance UAVs linger over Iraq for more than an hour last month (that is, until we shot it down). That drone, an Ababil 3, is manufactured by Hesa, an Iranian company recently designated by the U.S. Treasury as a military firm which has had involvement in Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs.

In other happenings involving Iran recently, charges were unsealed today against an Iranian “businessman”, Hossein ali Khoshnevisrad,  who was arrested last Saturday at San Francisco International Airport. The charges? Two felony counts of unlawful exports of U.S. goods to Iran and two counts of conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S. goods to Iran. Specifics? Helicopter engines and advanced aerial cameras for fighter bombers. Destination? Hesa. Innocent mistake on the part of a harried businessman? Not on your life.

It turns out that the FBI has been tracking Mr. Khoshnevisrad and his company, Ariasa, for quite some time.

They tracked Khoshnevisrad as he instructed an Irish company to purchase 17 military-use helicopter engines in Indiana for over $4 million. They followed the engines (purportedly destined for the firm for use in Ireland) as they were re-routed to an alleged publishing company in Malaysia, which turned out to be a freight-shipping entity which shipped the engines to an Iranian arms manufacturing company — Hesa.

The FBI also tracked the aerial cameras Mr. Khoshnevisrad attempted to purchase. He arranged for a Dutch company to order several of the cameras (which were designed for the U.S. Air Force for use on bombers, fighters and surveillance aircraft, including the F-4E Phantom fighter bomber, which is currently used by the Iranian military), and induced the company to falsely affirm that the end destination of the cameras was the Netherlands. Once there, the Dutch company informed Mr. Khoshnevisrad that the cameras had arrived and were about to be re-shipped to Teheran.

One question: how many other “businessmen” have flown below the radar, avoided the notice of the FBI and our other security agencies, and have successfully brought their cargoes to Iran. How much technology has been “appropriated” by those who wish to do us harm? We only know the ones we’ve caught. How to tell how many weren’t?

Things are falling apart, and the pace is quickening. Iran is already slouching toward Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and ultimately, Washington DC. I hope President Obama understands this and stands ready to take action.

UPDATE: Israel Matzav has similar worries.

Alan Speakman


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