CHICAGO (STMW) — A north suburban man arrested in Romania for allegedly conspiring to obtain and sell anti-aircraft missiles to the Taliban in Afghanistan has been extradited to the United States to face related charges.
Oded Orbach of the 100 block of Winona Road in Highland Park appeared in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on April 29, where he was ordered held without bond and pleaded not guilty to two counts, including conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and conspiring to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
Orbach was charged in February. If convicted, he faces 15 years to life in prison for the first count, and mandatory minimum of 25 years for the second.
The government announced that Orbach was one of seven individuals, two of whom are naturalized citizens — who allegedly tried to provide weapons, drugs or money to U.S. DEA sources posing as Taliban representatives last summer.
The weapons were to be used to protect Taliban-owned heroin laboratories in Afghanistan, according to U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara.
“As charged, Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach — two U.S. citizens — thought that they were arranging the sale of lethal weapons to members of a dangerous narco-terrorist organization to protect its lucrative narcotics operation and harm Americans in the process,” Bharara said.
According to the government, Orbach and two other defendants began arranging the deal through a co-conspirator described as a weapons trafficker affiliated with Hezbollah. The transactions were allegedly discussed during October 2010 in Ghana, Ukraine and Romania.
Details were recorded through phone and email interceptions, as well as several audio and video-recorded meetings, the release said.
At a meeting with the undercover DEA agents, 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.”
Some of the other defendants 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 United States. Some defendants allegedly agreed to sell substantial quantities of cocaine that the Taliban could sell at a profit here.
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.
Orbach is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on June 7.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)