Missile Plot Suspect Kept in Philadelphia

Man was allegedly looking for missiles that could "take down an F-16"

A terror suspect won't fight detention on charges he came to Philadelphia to try to steer a huge cache of missiles and machine guns to his native Lebanon, in what proved to be an undercover sting.

Dani Nemr Tarraf hoped to ship anti-aircraft missiles, 10,000 machine guns, night-vision equipment and other weapons to Lebanon by way of Iran or Syria, according to court documents.

In statements after his arrest, the muscular Tarraf admitted to membership in Hezbollah and said he has received military training from the terrorist group, according to a detention memo.

"As the sheer quantity would indicate, these (weapons) are not for target practice," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Miller argued at Monday's detention hearing. He said they were destined for the hands of thugs and killers.

Surveillance photos clearly show a man -- believed to be the suspect -- holding a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade during the sting.

Tarraf, 38, is charged with violating arms-control laws, conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles, passport fraud and other counts. He answered questions through an Arabic interpreter.

U.S. Magistrate Henry Perkin ordered detention, finding him both a danger and a flight risk.

Tarraf is described as a German citizen with homes in Lebanon and Slovakia and extensive business dealings in China and Lebanon.

He claimed last year to have 130 people working for him, the government said.

Tarraf has pleaded not guilty. Defense lawyer Marc Neff said his client understands the seriousness of the case.

The several-defendant plot initially involved the transport of stolen cell phones, laptops and video games, before it evolved through Tarraf into an arms-smuggling operation, the November indictment charged.

According to court documents, Tarraf paid about $20,000 cash to an undercover officer in July as a deposit on machine guns and shoulder-fired Stinger missiles and traveled to Philadelphia to inspect the merchandise last month.

Tarraf wanted missiles that could "take down an F-16," according to an affidavit.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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