Two plead guilty to Somalia arms trafficking attempt
A former US Air Force fighter pilot and his Israeli business partner have pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally sell arms to Somalia, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.
Chanoch Miller, an Israeli defence consultant, contacted retired US Air Force colonel Joseph O'Toole about arranging the unlicensed sale of AK-47 assault rifles, according to court documents.
The first shipment was to take 6,000 guns from Bosnia to Somalia, while a later one involved the export of 700 rifles from the US through Panama to Somalia.
The weapons were to be exported with falsified documents that concealed the fact that they were destined for Somalia, where the government is engaged in conflict with Islamist Al-Shebab rebels.
The plan was exposed when O'Toole contacted a presumed arms dealer who was in fact working undercover for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
Miller and O'Toole were arrested after O'Toole paid the informant 116,000 dollars (83,000 euros) as partial payment.
The two men each face up to five years in prison and possible fines. They will be sentenced in Florida in December.