Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Arms Case

A Pakistani man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of conspiring to illegally export U.S. military jet engine parts to the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Belgium.

Arif Ali Durrani (search), 56, appeared in federal court days after prosecutors dropped similar charges against him in an unrelated 1999 case. He will be held without bail until his preliminary hearing, scheduled for Oct. 5 in Los Angeles.

His attorney, Moe Nadim (search), said the government has a vendetta against Durrani.

"I got the other case dismissed, and I'm going to get this case dismissed," he said.

Durrani allegedly sought to ship a rear canopy panel for the T-38 military aircraft without a required military license.

The case marks the third time Durrani has been charged in the United States with arms trafficking.

"It is a testament to the perseverance of ICE agents who, for nearly two decades, have kept close tabs on a man with a history of illegally exporting sensitive U.S. military technology," said Michael Unzueta (search), special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's San Diego office.

In 1987, Durrani was convicted of violating the Arms Export Control Act in connection with illegal exportation to Iran of guidance systems for HAWK anti-aircraft missile.

During the trial, Durrani unsuccessfully argued that his actions were part of a U.S. government-sanctioned covert operation in connection with the Iran-Contra affair.

In the 1999 indictment, Durrani's now defunct company was also accused of illegally exporting military jet engine parts to foreign countries.

But court documents show that a different company that expected to buy the parts from Durrani did have export licenses and no further licenses were required.

The new complaint alleges that Durrani worked with Richard Tobey, who ran Airpower Supply in Temecula, to sell the aircraft parts in July 2004.

Tobey pleaded guilty in August to a felony charge of conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing. He told federal investigators that Durrani operated his military parts supply business from Mexico.

Mexican authorities, acting on a tip from their U.S. counterparts, arrested Durrani in June near the Tijuana-San Diego border for living in the country illegally. He was ordered deported to Pakistan but was taken into custody by U.S. immigration agents when his flight made a stop in Los Angeles.