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25 Years For Second Defendant In Plot To Give Taliban Weapons

Oded Orbach, Co-Defendant, Allegedly Plotted To Give Missiles To Purported Taliban Rep

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A U.S. citizen was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison Wednesday, after being convicted of conspiring to help the Taliban and acquire anti-aircraft missiles.

Oded Orbach was sentenced by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Wednesday. His sentence follows a 25-year sentence issued in September for his co-defendant, Alwar Pouryan, who once served as a translator for U.S. forces in Iraq.

The case arose out of a an undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration operation, in which Orbach and Pouryan agreed to provide military-grade weapons, including heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, to someone they believed represented the Taliban.

Both were convicted by Buchwald following a bench trial in April.

The men were told that the surface-to-air missiles were needed to protect Taliban heroin laboratories against attacks by U.S. helicopters, prosecutors said. They said Pouryan and Orbach agreed to provide more than $25 million in weapons, ammunition and training and were planning to earn more than $800,000 in commissions.

The men were arrested in Bucharest, Romania, last February by Romanian authorities. A two-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration caught the men agreeing to provide military-grade weapons, including heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles, to an individual they believed represented the Taliban, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Pouryan and Orbach agreed during meetings in Ghana, Ukraine and Romania to arrange the sale of weapons to a confidential source for the Taliban’s use against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

In court papers, Pouryan’s lawyers wrote that Pouryan sought political asylum in the United States in 1996, after it became too dangerous for Kurds in Iraq. He entered the U.S. in September 1997 but had no family in the country. For a time, he was a linguist for the U.S. Army as a contractor, the court papers said. He eventually was able to own a home and a grocery store.

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