292: The Arms Trader
Jul 8, 2005
The U.S. government spent two years on a sting operation trapping an Indian man named Hemant Lakhani, whom they suspected of being an illegal arms dealer. It's one of the few cases that has gone to trial in the War on Terror, and one the Justice Department has pointed to as one of their big successes. In the end, they got Lakhani, red-handed, delivering a missile to a terrorist in New Jersey. The only problem was, nothing in the sting was what it appeared to be. Including the missile.
- The government had an almost impossible task after the September 11th attacks: They had to try to stop terrorists before they did anything — in some cases, before they even committed a crime. Dr. William Banks, a law professor and head of Syracuse University's Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, talks about the difficulties of this mandate. (3 minutes)
- Hemant Lakhani, an Indian-born British citizen, had been a salesman all his life. Clothing, rice, oil...it didn't matter to him what the product was, as long as he could spin a deal. Then one day, sitting in a hotel room with a gangster he happened to know, the phone rang. It was a business friend of the gangster's, calling from America. The man on the phone was rich, Lakhani was told. Maybe he would invest in Lakhani's latest venture. So Lakhani started talking to the man over the phone. Pretty soon they set up a meeting at a hotel in New Jersey, to talk business. But when Lakhani got there, the man seemed to be only interested in buying illegal weapons for Somali terrorists. Lakhani, always eager to make a deal, said he can help him out. What he didn't know, is that the supposed rich business man was an FBI informant, and that he had just walked into an elaborate government sting. Petra Bartosiewicz reports. (30 minutes)