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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Highland Park man charged with Taliban weapons deal

    Feb. 20–A 52-year-old Highland Park father is one of two U.S. citizens charged with agreeing to sell missiles and other weapons to the Taliban for their use against American troops in Afghanistan, according to a complaint unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week.

    Oded Orbach, born in Israel, was among seven men arrested in an international sting operation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Paid informants posing as Taliban representatives conspired with the men to ship narcotics through West Africa _ with a portion intended for the United States _ and to use the proceeds to buy weapons for protecting Taliban-owned heroin labs in Afghanistan, authorities said.

    Orbach was arrested in Bucharest, Romania, on Feb. 10, according to the complaint outlined by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. That same day, federal agents armed with a search warrant raided his Highland Park home, according to a neighbor, whose account was confirmed by Highland Park Mayor Michael Belsky.

    Orbach is charged with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, as well conspiracy to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles. He faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted.

    He is being held in Romania and is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

    Those also charged are U.S. citizen Alwar Pouryan, Maroun Saade, Walid Nasr, Francis Sourou Ahissou, Corneille Dato and Martin Raouf Bouraima.

    According to the complaint, Orbach sent an e-mail in December 2010 containing a list of weapons and prices. In later e-mails he allegedly agreed to meet and discuss payment, delivery and training. The informants met with Orbach in February in Romania, according to the complaint.

    The accusations against Orbach flabbergasted friends, neighbors and business associates, who described Orbach as an intense, but honest man.

    “”This is absolutely out of character,”” said Bruce Brandel, who said he was a longtime business associate of Orbach’s. “”Is this really the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? … The credibility of him is 1,000 percent higher in my mind than what our government is capable of doing, as well as the people they pay to carry out these endeavors.””

    Tribune reporter Lisa Black contributed to this report.

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