5 indicted in alleged plot to smuggle bomb parts


Radio-control parts hidden in roadside bombs in Iraq have been traced to a company in Minnesota, prompting a federal grand jury Tuesday to indict five people in an alleged smuggling ring that sent up to 6,000 of the devices from this country to Iran for use against U.S. military personnel.

The alleged plot, run by a group of citizens of Singapore, was designed to skirt U.S. laws against conducting business with Iran, authorities said, adding that they hoped to extradite the defendants for trial in Washington.

Four defendants were arrested in Singapore. A fifth, an Iranian, was still being sought.


Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for national security, said the case “underscores the continuing threat posed by Iranian procurement networks seeking to obtain U.S. technology through fraud.”

John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the devices “could potentially be used to kill or injure our military members and our allies.” He said it was imperative to keep the devices and other sensitive technology “from falling into the hands of those who might seek to harm American personnel or interests — whether at home or abroad.”

Sixteen of the radio-frequency modules were found by coalition forces in unexploded IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, between May 2008 and July 2010 in Iraq, and were part of the 6,000 modules allegedly shipped through Iran.

Officials said the modules included encryption capabilities with a range of 40 miles for transmitting data wirelessly when configured with antennae.

The defendants allegedly told the unidentified Minnesota company that Singapore was the final destination for the modules, and that the materials were to be used for a telecommunications project there.

In reality, authorities said, the five shipments left Singapore and were moved by air cargo to Iran, where they were picked up by Hossein Larijani, the Iranian who remains at large.

According to the indictment, the defendants made tens of thousands of dollars arranging for the illegal exports. They are charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, smuggling, illegally exporting goods from the U.S. to Iran, making false statements and obstructing justice.

The defendants in Singapore were identified as Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson, all citizens of that country. They have yet to enter pleas on the charges.