Haaretz reported yesterday that the Iranian Air Force had fired up at least one U.S.-made Phantom fighter in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism. According to Haaretz:
The Iranian Air Force is bombing Islamic State (ISIS) targets inside Iraqi territory. It is an intensification of Iran’s military involvement on the side of the Shia regime of its neighbor and most likely also a sign of its alleged coordination with the U.S. military which is leading the international coalition fighting ISIS.
If true, interesting times. The story reminded me of a few relatively recent export control law cases closer to home involving the Iranians.
In 2009, a Romanian-born U.S. citizen, Traian Bujduveanu, was sentenced in the Southern District of Florida to 35 months in jail and three years supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to illegally export military and dual-use aircraft parts to Iran, including defense articles for use in the Phantom. Bujduveanu and his co-defendant, Hassan Keshari, were arrested in South Florida after an inter-agency investigation that included BIS, ICE, and DCIS.
Then there is the more recent case of Eli Cohen and Avihai Weinstein, arrested this year at Israel’s Ben-Guiron Airport. These two fellows, brothers, appear to be serial export control law violators. Federal prosecutors have reportedly requested their extradition to the United States. According to the Times of Israel:
The two brothers have both been investigated multiple times for allegedly trying to sell and ship military equipment to the Islamic Republic in violation of international sanctions.
The two had previously tried to send shipments to Iran via intermediary states such as the United States, Germany, Thailand and Portugal, Channel 2 reported on Thursday. According to the report, Cohen has been investigated on such charges six times over the past 12 years.
These fellows, members of the Hassidic sect are very persistent. They’ve been at it for more than decade and have had their Israeli arms export license revoked and reinstated at least twice. In 2004, stories surfaced about their alleged efforts to ship to Iran Hawk missiles and radar systems used in Phantom fighter jets.
That was the same year that an Orthodix Jewish American businessman, Leib Kohn, who was indicted in the United States for allegedly buying components for Hawk missiles and Phantom radar systems. He pleaded guilty of violating U.S. export control laws.
Of course, for all we know – which is not much – none of these cases, or other related cases, have absolutely nothing, nada, zilch,to do with the current air worthiness of the Iranian Air Force’s Phantom fleet.
Judging by recent news reports about U.S. efforts to combat radical Islamic terror groups in the region, as well as the reportedly fledgling Iran nuclear talks, the United States may just have sold Iran the spare parts, directly or indirectly, to engage a common foe. The spare parts may also have been part of a side deal negotiated several moons ago.
Whatever the case may be, by hook or by crook (more crook), the Iranians got their way. For now. Let’s hope it is a very short-lived alliance. The Iranian regime – a state sponsor of terrorism – is not to be trusted. And the more we dance with the enemy, in this case, the larger a dragon the free world will, some day, be forced to contain.