NEW YORK (May. 29)
Retired Israel Defense Force Gen. Avraham Bar-Am was arrested at Kennedy Airport Wednesday along with three other Israelis and an American lawyer alleged to be involved in an illegal plan to sell $2 billion worth of American combat aircraft and other weapons to Iran.
The four men had been in Bermuda since April 21 where, according to U.S. authorities, they went to finalize the arms deal. They were held in custody at U.S. request and deported from the British colony Wednesday.
They were scheduled to appear Thursday before a federal magistrate in Manhattan. In addition to Bar-Am, a 52-year-old veteran of 30 years in the IDF, the suspects are William Northrop, who holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, Israel Eisenberg and his son Guri Eisenberg, both Israeli nationals, and Samuel Evans, an American lawyer alleged to have master-minded the deal.
The five are among 17 persons of Israeli and other nationalities who were arrested or had warrants issued for their arrest last month. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorna Scofield, 10 of the 17 are now in custody.
U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani alleges that the suspects conspired to sell and ship to Iran American made missiles, tanks, jet fighters and military transport aircraft in defiance of the U.S. arms embargo on Iran. The weapons were said to be stored in several foreign countries awaiting shipment.
When the case broke the Israeli government categorically denied any involvement or knowledge of the alleged plot and U.S. authorities affirmed that Israel was not involved. But Bar-Am has claimed that he had Israeli permission to broker the arms deal.