Man Arrested in Philadelphia in Alleged Missile Smuggling Plot

An alleged plot to send anti-aircraft missiles and guns to Syria or Iran was thwarted after a key figure was arrested in Philadelphia, the FBI said in documents released Monday.

Dani Nemr Tarraf was detained Saturday on charges of conspiracy to acquire a missile system designed to destroy aircraft and conspiracy to possess machine guns, MyFoxPhilly.com reported.

Federal agents wouldn't discuss whether Tarraf had any ties to terrorist groups, the TV station Web site said. He has homes in both Lebanon and Slovakia, but his country of origin wasn't immediately clear.

"Keeping missiles, machine guns, and other sensitive U.S. weapons technology from falling into the wrong hands is one of the Justice Department's top priorities," said David Kriss, assistant attorney general for national security, in announcing the sting.

The FBI said the plot began as a scheme to smuggle stolen electronics — including video games, cell phones and laptops — and evolved into an effort by Tarraf to obtain weapons that could be shipped to Syria or Iran for what he called "the Resistance."

He was after missiles that could "take down an F-16," the affidavit says.

Little did Tarraf know, he was requesting the weapons from an undercover agent, according to documents.

The affidavit alleges that Tarraf paid a $20,000 cash deposit to the agent in July for machine guns and shoulder-fired Stinger missiles, MyFoxPhilly.com reported. The documents say Tarraf's dealings with the undercover officer date back to June 2007.

Last week, authorities say, he traveled to Philadelphia to inspect his purchases.

Four other men were charged with conspiring to transport stolen goods in the alleged plot, MyFoxPhilly.com said.

"These cases show the breadth of criminal activity engaged in by those who oppose us," said U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy.

Click here for more from MyFoxPhilly.com.