Arms dealers caught in terror sting convicted in NY

A wealthy arms dealer long suspected of aiding militants in some of the world's bloodiest conflicts was convicted Thursday of conspiring to sell weapons to informants who posed as arms suppliers for terrorists willing to kill Americans. Syrian-born Monzer al-Kassar, 62, and a co-defendant, Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, were convicted of conspiring over a four-month period last year to try to sell millions of dollars worth of heavy weaponry to Colombian militants. During the verdict, Kassar blew kisses to several weeping courtroom supporters. The federal jury in Manhattan convicted the men of conspiring to provide aid and equipment to a terrorist organization, conspiring to kill US soldiers, conspiring to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and money laundering. US authorities said Kassar was willing to sell surface-to-air missile systems, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, thousands of machine guns and millions of rounds of ammunition to Colombian rebels. Prosecutors said Kassar believed undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents were representing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a rebel army known as FARC that is classified in the United States as a terrorist group. The evidence included recorded phone calls, e-mails and meetings. The agents struck a fictitious $8 million deal for Kassar to supply weaponry obtained in Romania and Bulgaria. No weapons were ever exchanged. The defense argued that the men were actually sleuthing on behalf of Spanish intelligence operators. Assistant US Attorney Boyd Johnson said greed was the chief motivation. The men face up to life in prison when they are sentenced on February 18. Lawyers for both men said they would appeal.