Source: Times Online UK
The Sunday Times
Paul Henderson and Robert Watts
Two Iranian-born British men are accused of being part of a network supplying components for the roadside bombs which are killing coalition soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The network, uncovered by American investigators, is alleged to have illegally shipped more than 30,000 electronic components from the United States to Iran via other countries.
The components are said to be identical to those used in some of the hidden bombs which have killed 2,000 coalition soldiers, including more than 200 British servicemen.
One of the accused is Farshid Gillardian, a 39-year-old whose family was given refuge in Britain after the 1979 Iranian revolution. He was arrested in his mother’s north London home two weeks ago.
His fellow accused, Ali Akbar Yahya, a 48-year-old businessman, disappeared from his flat in Dubai last month and neighbours say they know nothing of his whereabouts.
Both men are named in a 45-page United States grand jury indictment which draws on a three-year investigation into the smuggling of dual-use components.
It is understood the inquiries were prompted by the discovery of American-made electronics in an unexploded roadside bomb in Iraq.
The US authorities allege the British nationals are part of a network which breached export rules and embargoes to supply this type of equipment to Iran. Officials say the Iranians have supplied the components for many of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) used against coalition troops.
Mario Mancuso, the US undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, described the network as a “lethal international ring seeking to harm American and allied forces . . . by acquiring sensitive US technology capable of producing IEDs similar to those being used in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
This weekend Gillardian’s friends and family described the allegations as “preposterous”. Karen Todner, his lawyer, said: “This man is no terrorist. As a devout Jew he is horrified he has been linked with Islamic terror in Iraq or Afghanistan. He categorically denies these charges.”
The Sunday Times has obtained a copy of the indictment filed to the Florida southern district court in Miami earlier this month.
It claims that eight men and eight related companies were part of a conspiracy to “illegally enrich” themselves by “unlawfully exporting electronic components and other commodities from the United States to Iran”.
The network included people in Iran, Dubai, Malaysia and Germany, as well as Britain. They bought the components from America because US electronics are considered more reliable, quicker to obtain and cheaper than those produced in Iran.
It is alleged that Yahya is a central figure in the network. He is a British citizen who ran or operated four of the companies from Dubai: Mayrow General Trading, Atlinx Electronics, Madjico Micro Electronics and Micatic General Trading.
Suspicion first fell on his Mayrow company in 2005 when an unexploded bomb in Iraq was found to have contained an American-made computer circuit. It is understood that the serial numbers and sales records showed that the circuit had been bought from a California company and had made its way through to Mayrow.
According to the indictment, further investigations have linked Yahya and his companies to the shipping of thousands of components from the United States to Iran, via Dubai.
The goods included 89 computer chips, 200 Ericsson DC/DC converters and 3,400 low-pass filters. All these goods have peaceful uses, but their export is strictly controlled because they can also be essential components of bombs.
Major Chris Hunter, a senior Ministry of Defence bomb analyst until last year, said: “This reads like a checklist of what you need to produce a radio-controlled IED, especially those armed with an EFP [explosively formed penetrator] – definitely the most lethal weapon the British Army has ever faced.”
Additional reporting: Abul Taher