Iraqi Link in Executive's Firing Denied

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A San Marcos electronics company on Thursday denied claims by its former president that he was fired in April for his involvement in a U.S. Customs sting operation that foiled an Iraqi conspiracy to obtain nuclear trigger devices.

Richard Testut, chief executive of CSI Technologies Inc., said the dismissal of Jerold Kowalsky resulted from "an accumulation of differences of opinion over a long period of time and was by no means connected with his involvement with the Iraqi thing."

Kowalsky had participated in an 18-month sting with Customs officials that led to the arrest of five people who tried to smuggle nuclear detonators into Iraq. He says the company fired him because it feared retaliation by the Iraqis.

Testut denied a claim by Kowalsky that soon after his dismissal, the company sent a letter to an Iraqi operative telling him that Kowalsky had left the firm. Kowalsky said the letter was intended to discourage terrorist action against the company.

On Thursday, Testut made available a copy of the letter, which he described as a bulletin sent to all of the company's customers. Among them was a company charged by British authorities for its alleged attempts to smuggle the nuclear detonators through a London airport.

The bulletin notified customers that Kowalsky had left the firm and that Testut had taken on the additional duties of company president.

Testut said the letter was sent to the Iraqi-connected firm because it had done legitimate business with CSI in the past.

In another development, a British court on Thursday sentenced 41-year-old Jeanine Speckman to an 18-month jail term for her part in the plot to export the nuclear trigger devices to Iraq. A day earlier, her co-worker, Ali Ashour Daghir, 49, was sentenced to a five-year term.

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