By Bernard Vaughan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oded Orbach, one of two U.S. citizens among a group of men accused in 2011 of trying to sell weapons to people they thought were Taliban militants, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Wednesday in Manhattan federal court.
Orbach, 55, and former U.S. Army translator Alwar Pouryan, the other U.S. citizen netted in a sting, were convicted in April of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles.
The two men were among seven indicted in 2011 following an undercover investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration into drug trafficking in West Africa.
In September, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who sentenced Orbach, sentenced Pouryan to 25 years in prison.
In meetings with a confidential DEA source in Africa, Ukraine and Romania starting in late 2010, Pouryan and Orbach arranged to provide $25 million worth of weapons, ammunition and training to the source posing as a Taliban representative. They expected to make more than $800,000 on the transactions, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office.
At the meetings, Pouryan and Orbach, who lived in Highland Park, Illinois, discussed weapons specifications, pricing and training for certain weapons, including "stinger" surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers and M-16 rifles, prosecutors said.
They were arrested by Romanian authorities in coordination with the DEA in February 2011, according to prosecutors.
"Today's sentence ensures that Oded Orbach will be held to account for agreeing to provide over $25 million in military-grade weapons, including heat-seeking surface-to-air-missiles, to a source he believed represented the Taliban, and even though he knew the weapons would be used against the U.S.," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement on Wednesday.
The case is USA v. Saade et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-cr-00111.
(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)