War on Terrorism

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Singapore man sentenced to 4 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization

BALTIMORE, Md. - A citizen Singapore was sentenced today to 57 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Balraj Naidu, 48, was convicted by a federal jury on Oct. 18, 2010 as result of an investigation led by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge William L. Winter of the Baltimore office; Special Agent in Charge A.J. Macisaac of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Washington field office; Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service - mid-Atlantic field office; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the FBI; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

"The sentencing today reflects our commitment to keeping U.S. weapons and technology out of the hands of terrorists," said Special Agent in Charge Winter. "Homeland Security Investigations will continue to pursue those who seek to jeopardize America's national and international security by selling technologies and weaponry to terrorist organizations. Enforcing export laws is one of Homeland Security Investigation's top priorities and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that those who send prohibited items will be brought to justice."

According to evidence presented at his five day trial, beginning in February 2006, Naidu and his co-conspirators attempted to purchase state of the art weaponry from China, Thailand, North Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia for the terrorist organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers) operating within Sri Lanka, to be used to fight against Sri Lankan government forces. Several arms merchants refused to supply the Tamil Tigers with weaponry once the destination for the arms had been disclosed by Naidu and his associates. In April 2006, Naidu's Indonesian sources for weapons unwittingly introduced Naidu and his associates to an agent for an undercover business in Maryland that purported to sell military weapons.

The evidence showed that in the subsequent months, the conspirators' negotiations with the undercover agent centered on the acquisition of American made weaponry. Terms of the sale included delivery of the weapons to locations in international waters off the coast of Sri Lanka. The weaponry was to be off-loaded by the Sea Tigers, the naval branch of the Tamil Tigers. A co-conspirator, Haniffa Bin Osman, visited Baltimore in the summer of 2006, where he examined and test-fired much of the weaponry. As a result of the trip, Tamil Tiger representatives wire transferred $250,000 into the undercover business' accounts as down payment on a $900,000 weapons deal. Approximately 28 tons of weapons and ammunition, which the conspirators believed they were purchasing, was air-lifted to the U.S. territory of Guam. On Sept. 29, 2006, after inspecting the weapons and transferring an additional $450,000 into the undercover business' accounts, co-conspirators Bin Osman, Haji Subandi, Erick Wotulo and Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa were arrested and indicted. The investigation continued and led to the indictment of Naidu and an alleged Tamil Tigers financier on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to the Tamil Tigers and related offenses.

Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, 40, a citizen of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; Haji Subandi, 73, and retired Indonesian Marine Corps General Erick Wotulo, 62, both citizens of the Republic of Indonesia; and Haniffa Bin Osman, 59, a citizen of the Republic of Singapore, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy and were sentenced to 57 months, 37 months, 30 months and 37 months in prison, respectively.

Founded in 1976, the Tamil Tigers has advocated the violent overthrow of the Sri Lankan government, employing acts of violence, including suicide bombings, against both civilian and military targets. Approximately 200 such attacks have been attributed to the Tamil Tigers to date. The Tamil Tigers relies heavily upon supporters throughout the world to raise and launder money, acquire intelligence and purchase military use technology. The U.S. Department of State designated the Tamil Tigers as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in1997. As such, the Tamil Tigers cannot legally raise money or procure operational equipment in the United States.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James G. Warwick and Rachel M. Yasser.

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