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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 14, 2006

Indonesia tied to arms export case

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

A man one of four charged as part of an international conspiracy to illegally export weapons and military aircraft equipment plans to cooperate with authorities and says the ultimate destination for the equipment was the Indonesian government, his defense lawyer said yesterday.

Ibrahim Bin Amran, a Singapore businessman, was like a "broker" or "middleman" on behalf of a co-defendant, Hadianto Djoko Djuliarso, according to Amran's attorney, Michael Park.

As part of a plot to export aircraft equipment and weapons, Amran also is accused of trying to get price quotes for 245 Sidewinder missiles.

Although Amran has mentioned military aircraft equipment, Park said his client didn't say anything to him about weapons or missiles.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Thomas, a prosecuting attorney in the case, declined to comment on whether the arrests resulted from a sting operation. He also would not comment on the ultimate destination of the equipment and weapons.

Amran and Djuliarso were indicted by a federal grand jury in Michigan last week on charges of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act by trying to purchase and export equipment and weapons without a license. The potential seller is an unnamed U.S.-based company that the defendants believed had a representative based in Detroit, according to court papers.

The two men arrived in Ho-nolulu on April 7 along with David Beecroft, a British citizen from Singapore, and Ignatius Ferdinandus Soeharli from Indonesia, according to court documents. After meeting with representatives of the company, the four were arrested here Sunday and have been held at the Federal Detention Center.

Beecroft and Soeharli are charged here with conspiring with Djuliarso and Amran to violate the federal export law.

The conspiracy charge carries a prison term of up to five years.

The prosecution's cases as outlined in the federal grand jury indictment and an affidavit by an agent of the immigration and customs enforcement office allege a conspiracy that involved communications from Indonesia and Singapore and meetings in London, Detroit and Honolulu.

The documents say money was sent as partial payment for the purchase of aircraft equipment, but they do not allege that any of the equipment, weapons or missiles were actually delivered to the defendants or exported.

MICHIGAN CHARGES

At a court hearing yesterday, federal Magistrate Judge Leslie Kobayashi ordered Amran and Djuliarso be transferred to Michigan to face the charges there.

She ordered Soeharli to be held without bail. Beecroft did not show up at the hearing, but his lawyer, Richard Gronna, earlier indicated he would not oppose the prosecution's request to hold his client without bail.

The three men sat separately in the courtroom jury box, each handcuffed and in ankle shackles. They wore prison attire of light blue shirts and dark pants. Djuliarso and Soeharli needed the help of an Indonesian interpreter, while Amran was able to understand the proceedings.

When asked whether he knew he would be transferred to Michigan, Djuliarso protested through the interpreter that "he didn't do anything in Michigan."

But Kobayashi told him he could answer the charges in Michigan.

Djuliarso's lawyer, Alvin Nishimura, declined to comment on his client's case, while federal Assistant Public Defender Matthew Winter said they're eager to see the prosecution's evidence.

"We're looking forward to fighting these charges," he said.

Djuliarso and Amran were identified as owners or associates of several companies, including Ataru Indonesia, which does business in Singapore and Indonesia. That company also is named as the company trying to purchase the equipment and weapons.

The conspiracy allegedly began in March last year when a worker for a company owned by the two men sent an e-mail to the U.S.-based company seeking to export military parts to Indonesia even though it was against the law to export those items to the Southeast Asian country.

The indictment and affidavit also allege:

  • In July last year, Amran asked for quotes for prices of aircraft armaments for 245 Sidewinder missiles and 5,000 rounds of strafing ammunition. There is no mention of what action was taken on the request.

  • In January, Amran received a quote of $3.3 million from a U.S. based-company for 882 submachine guns, 800 9mm handguns and 16 sniper rifles. He said he wanted to buy and export the items even if a license for those transactions could not be obtained.

  • On March 31, Djuliarso and Amran sent $447,000 to a U.S. based-company as partial payments for military aircraft parts that included a radar system.

    The U.S. attorney in Detroit has called the case "a serious and grave threat to our national security." U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy III said the individuals were "ready, willing and able to buy American weapons and take them outside the country."

    NO TERROR CLAIM

    Hawai'i's U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo has said the case did not involve exporting the weapons for terrorism.

    The defense statement that the aircraft parts were intended for Indonesia comes even as the United States is exploring increasing military cooperation with that country.

    The New York Times last month reported that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for an expansion of a "strategic partnership" with Indonesia, including increased military cooperation, after the U.S. decision last year to resume military aid that had long been cut off because of Indonesia's poor human rights record.

    In a speech while in Jakarta, Rice said Indonesia had made progress in combating military corruption, the Times reported. "A reformed and effective Indonesian military is in the interest of everyone in this region, because threats to our common security have not disappeared," she said, according to the Times.

    Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.