CHICAGO (STMW) — A Highland Park resident was arrested in Romania Feb. 10 and charged with conspiring to aid terrorists in Afghanistan by attempting to obtain and sell anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons to the Taliban, according to a complaint unsealed last week by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York.
Oded Orbach, of the 100 block of Winona Road, Highland Park, was one of seven individuals — two of whom are U.S. citizens — who allegedly tried to provide weapons, drugs or money to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sources who posed as Taliban representatives.
Beginning last summer, the complaint alleges that Orbach agreed to sell weapons to the Taliban, including surface-to-air missiles to be used to protect Taliban-owned heroin labs from U.S. attack in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office news release.
During October 2010 meetings held in Ghana, Ukraine and Romania, two other defendants and Orbach began arranging the sale of weapons through a co-conspirator described as a weapons trafficker affiliated with Hezbollah.
At a meeting with the undercover DEA sources, Orbach allegedly “discussed specifications, pricing and the provision of training for the sale of various weapons, including, ‘surface-to-air missiles,’ anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers, AK-47s and M-16s,” according to the release.
Some of the other defendants also allegedly agreed to “receive, store and move ton-quantities of Taliban-owned heroin through West Africa, portions of which they understood would then be sent to the U.S. Some defendants allegedly agreed to sell substantial quantities of cocaine that the Taliban could sell at a profit in the U.S.”
Orbach was charged with two counts in the complaint, including conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and conspiring to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles.
Orbach remains held in Bucharest, Romania, where he is being held pending extradition to the United States. The charges bring penalties that range from 15 years in prison for the first count to life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 25 years for the second.
“As alleged, the defendants charged, including two U.S. citizens, were prepared to provide millions of dollars in dangerous narcotics and lethal weapons to men they believed represented the Taliban,” stated U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in the press release. “This alleged effort to arm and enrich the Taliban is the latest example of the dangers of an inter-connected world in which terrorists and drug runners can link up across continents to harm Americans.”
The case was built by intercepting telephone and e-mail communications as well as a series of audio-recorded and videotaped meetings during several months in Ghana, Ukraine and Romania, according to U.S. prosecutors.
Published reports state that Orbach is 52-years-old, was born in Israel and is the father of a recent Highland Park High School graduate.
An individual hung-up after answering a phone call at Orbach’s Highland Park home Monday.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)