Charges to be Brought Against Arms Dealers Who Were Filmed in ATF Undercover Operation
by Chris Hansen
MSNBC - Dateline NBC
March 18, 2003
Announcer: Our DATELINE Special, Target: Iraq, continues.
STONE PHILLIPS: Aid to terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda. It's one of the reasons President Bush gave for removing Saddam Hussein from power. Now in a DATELINE Exclusive, you'll witness negotiations for deadly weapons that could have ties to Osama bin Laden himself. Arms brokers caught on tape trying to purchase a weapon that could threaten you every time you step on a plane: a shoulder-fired missile that can shoot a 747 right out of the sky. Here's Chris Hansen with the latest in a DATELINE investigation.
CHRIS HANSEN reporting: There is no doubt shoulder-fired missiles are available on the black market, and there's no doubt there are people right here in the United States--people with alleged ties to terrorist organizations--who are eager to buy them, especially American-made Stinger missiles.
(Soldiers practising shooting; unidentified city; soldier and launcher)
Offscreen Voice: (From hidden camera) What's your name?
Mr. MOHAMED "MIKE" MALIK: (From hidden camera) Mike.
Voice: (From hidden camera) Mike. Nice to see you.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) In fact, last August a DATELINE investigation exposed a plot to do exactly that involving this New Jersey convenience store owner and others with alleged links to Islamic militant groups. How real is the threat? Well, just last November terrorists in Africa tried to shoot down this Israeli jetliner with a shoulder-fired missile.
(Excerpt from hidden camera footage of Mike; soldier; plane; missile launcher)
General BARRY McCAFFREY: Well, I think we ought to assume that any serious terrorist organization can acquire shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles if they put their minds to it.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) NBC News analyst and retired General Barry McCaffrey says there a dozen or more shoulder-fired systems made in China, Russia and in Europe. But it's the US-made Stinger that is at the top of the terrorist shopping list.
(Barry McCaffrey; missile being fired; Chinese soldier firing missile; US soldiers firing missiles)
Gen. McCAFFREY: (Voiceover) Well, Stinger is the Cadillac of missiles.
(US soldiers firing missiles)
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Accurate because it zeros in on the heat from a jet engine, yet fairly simple to operate. After a few days of training, it's basically point-and-shoot.
(Missile; jet flying; men shooting missile launcher)
HANSEN: And that's apparently one of the reasons the individuals we told you abut last summer had Stingers on their lengthy shopping list, a list that also included components for nuclear devices. And when they were talking with an undercover government operative, they made no secret of who the enemy was.
Mr. RANDY GLASS: And he told me that Americans were the enemy.
HANSEN: Americans were the enemy?
Mr. GLASS: Yes.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Randy Glass was a conman-turned-government-informant who went undercover posing as a weapons broker, a roll that eventually led him to a dinner meeting at a New York restaurant. Among those at the table, a mysterious Pakistani by the name of R.G. Abbas.
(Randy Glass talking to reporter; Glass driving and talking on cell phone; hidden camera footage of restaurant; photo of R.G. Abbas)
Mr. GLASS: He looked around the restaurant and he said, 'We would have no problem with blowing up this entire restaurant.'
HANSEN: 'We would have no problem blowing up this entire restaurant.'
Mr. GLASS: 'Because it's full of Americans.'
HANSEN: (Voiceover) That dinner led to another meeting, this time at a south Florida warehouse that had been stockpiled with weapons as part of a government sting operation targeting individuals who were trying to buy weapons for terror groups.
(Warehouse; photo of weapons; photo of Glass holding missile launcher)
Mr. GLASS: It was a showroom, you know, where you see samples. For example, there were approximately--I believe it was 16 Stinger missiles.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) The whole scene was being recorded by federal agents. DATELINE has obtained images from those tapes and a separate audio recording of the meeting, now being broadcast for the first time. The arms brokers and Randy Glass pull into the warehouse where they're greeted by an undercover agent by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. We blurred his face to protect his identity. The man driving the Cadillac, wearing the dark shirt with the stripe is veteran undercover agent Dick Stoltz who's posing as an arms supplier. He heads to the back of the room and pulls out a Stinger missile.
(Photos from hidden camera footage of men meeting; tape recorder; photos of car pulling up; photos of men greeting; photos of men meeting with arrows pointing at Dick Stoltz)
Agent DICK STOLTZ: (From hidden camera) These are all Stingers. This is--this is about a million and a half dollars' worth of Stingers here.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) That's Agent Stoltz' voice as he shows the Stingers to the mysterious visitor from Pakistan, R.G. Abbas. Stoltz, who recently retired from the ATF, says Abbas seemed to be calling the shots.
(Photos of men meeting)
Agent STOLTZ: (From hidden camera) This is your IFF interrogator pack here, OK?
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Stoltz, who Abbas thinks is an arms dealer, explains the finer points of firing a Stinger.
(Photos of men meeting)
Mr. GLASS: Button right there, OK, that's when you--when they spot the aircraft, they immediately turn that on and they get a beep. It tells them if it's a--if it's a friend or foe.
Go ahead. You want to hold it?
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Abbas puts the missile launcher on his shoulder. Informant Randy Glass in the yellow shirt and the undercover agent over on the left pull out their cameras.
(Photos of men meeting with arrows pointing to men)
Mr. GLASS: (From hidden camera) Abbas, let me--let me ask you a question. Do you want a picture so you can take back with you?
HANSEN: (Voiceover) While Abbas is having his photo taken, one of his partners, a wheeler-dealer from Jersey City named Diaa Moshen, sits in this office inside the warehouse. Undercover Agent Stoltz comes in and sits across the desk. Then they're joined by that New Jersey convenience store owner, Mohamed "Mike" Malik. He sits down on the right and sounds anxious to close the deal, even suggests they already have buyers lined up.
(Photos of meeting)
Mr. MALIK: (From hidden camera) This is going to be a really hot item for us because so convenient, Kashmir or Afghanistan. That'll be beautiful.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Where will the weapons go?
(Photo of weapons)
Unidentified Man: We did confirm through various sources that--that Abbas and Malik did have links to weapons trafficking groups and--and militant operations.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Among them, Stoltz says, the Taliban in Afghanistan. Remember, as this warehouse meeting was taking place in the summer of 1999, Osama bin Laden and his Taliban allies were still flourishing in Afghanistan. In fact, Diaa Moshen, the arms broker on the left, whispers across the desk to agent Stoltz. Abbas, he says, has direct connections to Osama bin Laden himself.
(Taliban soldiers; photos of meeting; footage of Osama bin Laden; photos of meeting)
Mr. DIAA MOSHEN: (From hidden camera) He gets in with the dignitaries, bin Laden--bin Laden, who blew that embassy.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) An apparent reference to the US Embassies that were blown up in Africa in 1998. Abbas then joins them. He's the one on the far left. The man in the doorway is that federal agent whose face we blurred. After only a few minutes of discussion, the buyers settle on a deal for Stingers and other weapons.
(Rescue workers at bombed embassy; men carrying wounded person; photos of meeting)
Mr. MALIK: (From hidden camera) We're talking up to $3 million.
Agent STOLTZ: (From hidden camera) Right.
Mr. MALIK: (From hidden camera) Small shipment.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) What does Abbas think about smuggling the weapons in through Pakistan?
(City in Pakistan)
Mr. R.G. ABBAS: (From hidden camera) That's no, no, no, no problem.
Agent STOLTZ: (From hidden camera) OK.
HANSEN: (Voiceover) Negotiations went on for more than a year. Then in January 2001, another undercover meeting taped by the feds, this time in a Florida hotel room. Dick Stoltz sat with this man who traveled from Pakistan to finalize what was now a $32 million deal. The feds waited and waited but the money never arrived. Finally in June 2001, three months before 9/11, they arrested Diaa Moshen and his associate, Mike Malik. Both eventually pleaded guilty to violating federal weapons laws and were sentenced to 30 months in prison. Neither faced any terrorism-related charges.
(Photos of meeting; photos of second meeting; photos of weapons; ATF agent in gear; photos of Mohamed Malik and Diaa Moshen)
HANSEN: (Talking on phone) Yes, Mr. Abbas?
(Voiceover) As for R.G. Abbas, we were able to track him down by phone in Pakistan. He denied trying to buy weapons or threatening Americans.
(Reporter talking on phone; photo of Abbas holding missile launcher)
HANSEN: (Talking on phone) But how can you say that when the government has a tape with you...
(Voiceover) ...talking about buying weapons?
(Photos of meeting)
Mr. ABBAS: (Talking on phone) Well, if the government has a tape and I was talking about the weapons, then how come I am not in any--in--involved in any investigation here?
HANSEN: (Voiceover) We now have an answer to Mr. Abbas' question. Two weeks ago a federal indictment was unsealed in Florida charging Abbas and the co-conspirator--the money man who met Stoltz in the hotel room--with violating US weapons laws. Both men are believed to be in Pakistan, and US authorities say they're working towards their capture and extradition. Meanwhile, federal agents say that investigating terror groups trying to get their hands on shoulder-fired missiles has become a huge focus in the continuing war on terror.
(Photo of Abbas holding missile launcher; federal building; lawsuit; unidentified Pakistan city; photos of man and Abbas; photos of meeting; terrorists firing missile launchers)
PHILLIPS: While those men never got their missiles, the government is taking the possibility of this type of assault seriously. Even before the alert status was returned to "orange," teams of agent had been dispatched to airports across the country to assess their vulnerability to missile attack.
Announcer: Still ahead, Peter Arnett, one of the last Western journalists still in Baghdad, reports on a city that may soon be under siege, when Target: Iraq, a DATELINE Special, continues.
Copyright 2003 National Broadcasting Co. Inc.
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