The head of a Canadian shipping company and an Israeli were indicted on Wednesday for planning to ship the most sophisticated night-vision equipment to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Naji Antoine Abi Khalil, 39, chairman and general manager of New Line Services, a shipping company based in Montreal, and Tomer Grinberg, 30, an Israeli living in New York, were named in the indictment filed in Manhattan federal court.
Khalil, who has dual citizenship in Canada and Lebanon, is charged with attempting to supply material support and resources to a terrorist organization and attempting to supply goods to a terrorist.
He and Grinberg are both charged with conspiring to export sensitive military night-vision equipment without U.S. government licenses.
If convicted, Khalil faces a maximum combined penalty of 30 years in jail and a $750,000 fine. Grinberg faces a maximum five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment replaces a complaint on lesser charges filed against Khalil last month. Prosecutors accuse Khalil of agreeing to send night-vision goggles, infrared aiming devices and other equipment to Hezbollah, which the indictment describes as a terrorist group.
The charges allege that on May 17 and 18, Khalil met an undercover FBI agent at a hotel in the Times Square area to discuss a shipment of stolen electronics that needed to be exported. The agent told Khalil he had a customer who wanted to ship night-vision goggles to Hezbollah in Athens, Greece. Khalil allegedly said wasn't a problem and he had "friends."
The charges state that during another meeting, the agent introduced Khalil to another undercover FBI agent who was posing as the customer. He gave Khalil the address of individuals who would receive the shipment and Khalil agreed to create a fictitious bill of lading so the items and the identity of the shipper would not be revealed.
On May 19, Khalil and Grinberg met the undercover agent at a Manhattan storage facility to pick up the night-vision equipment, the indictment said. The agent showed the defendants a crate filled with fourteen pieces of Generation 3 night-vision equipment, the highest level of night-vision technology, which may not be exported without a license.
Khalil and Grinberg loaded the equipment into a minivan and Khalil accepted a $2,500 down payment from the agent for the shipment to Greece. The American authorities have not contacted the Israeli consulate in New York about the arrest of Grinberg.
Diplomatic sources in Israel said last night that they are trying to contact the New York Police Department and the FBI to be brought up to date on the case. "At this stage there has been no request from Grinberg, his family or his attorney," a source at the Israeli consulate in New York said.
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