Sentenced for Attempting to Export Military
Equipment to Hizballah
YORK, New York (FBI) — Michael Garcia, the United States
for the Southern District
of New York, announced that Naji
Antoine Abi Khalil
was sentenced this afternoon to 60 months’ imprisonment.
Khalil pleaded guilty on August 9, 2005 to attempting to provide
material support to Hizballah, a Lebanon-based terrorist organization;
attempting to contribute goods in the form of military night-vision
equipment and infrared aiming devices to Hizballah; and conspiring
to export sensitive military equipment from the United States
without first obtaining the necessary licenses from the State
Department and the Commerce Department. Khalil was indicted
on these charges in Manhattan federal court on June 16, 2004,
pleaded guilty to the charges contained in the indictment in
the Eastern District of Arkansas, where he has also pleaded
guilty to money laundering charges and is presently detained.
At his sentencing,
Khalil received a prison term of 57 months on the attempted
material support charge
and 60 months
each on the attempted contribution and conspiracy to export charges.
He was also sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment for the
Eastern District of Arkansas money laundering charge. The terms
of imprisonment are to run concurrently.
According to court documents previously filed
in Manhattan federal court, on or about May 17, 2004, Khalil — who holds dual
citizenship in both Lebanon and Canada, and who was Chairman
and General Manager of New Line Services, an import/export shipping
company in Montreal, Canada — flew from Canada to New York
to meet with a cooperating witness (the “CW”) working
with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)
regarding a shipment of stolen electronics that needed to be
exported out of the country. Khalil and the CW met several times
on May 17 and May 18 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan.
Those meetings were monitored by law enforcement agents from
an adjoining hotel room on a video and audio monitor. During
the meetings, the CW told Khalil that he had a customer who wanted
to ship night-vision goggles to Hizballah in Athens, Greece.
Khalil responded that it was not a problem and that he had “friends.” Khalil
also confirmed that he had no problem shipping the items to Hizballah.
According to court documents, during another
meeting between Khalil and the CW at the Marriot, the CW introduced
an undercover FBI agent posing as the CW’s customer. The
undercover agent told Khalil that he wanted to ship nightvision
goggles and infrared aiming devices to Athens, Greece. The undercover
agent provided Khalil with the point of contact and address of
individuals who would receive the shipment in Greece. Khalil
agreed to create a fictitious bill of lading so that the items
being shipped and the identity of the shipper would not be revealed.
to court documents, on the morning of May 19, 2004, Khalil
and Tomer Grinberg, an Israeli citizen
at the Tober Group, a shipping and logistics company based in
Brooklyn, New York, met with the undercover agent at Manhattan
Mini Storage located at 645 West 44th Street in Manhattan to
pick up the night-vision equipment. The undercover agent showed
Khalil and Grinberg a crate filled with fourteen pieces of “Generation
3” night-vision equipment, including nightvision goggles
and infrared aiming devices. The infrared aiming devices were
designed to be mounted on M-16 and other military rifles for
target acquisition purposes when using night-vision goggles.
Generation 3 is the highest level of night-vision technology
and cannot be exported without a license.
As explained in court documents, Khalil tried on the night-vision
goggles. Grinberg told the undercover agent that he did not need
to try on the equipment because he had military experience and
knew what the items were and that he had access to these types
of night-vision goggles. Khalil and Grinberg then loaded the
equipment inside a minivan. Khalil also accepted a down payment
of $2,500 from the undercover agent for the shipment to Greece.
Khalil and Grinberg were then placed under arrest.
Grinberg pleaded guilty on July 28, 2005, in Manhattan federal
court to conspiring to export sensitive military equipment without
first obtaining the required licenses. He is awaiting sentencing.
praised the investigative efforts of the FBI, the United States
Commerce Department, the Department of Homeland
Security, and the New York City Police Department.
United States Attorney W.S. Wilson Leung is in charge of