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Arms Ring Suspect Agrees to Stand Trial in Florida

August 24, 1985|GEORGE RAMOS | Times Staff Writer

A Calabasas woman accused of being the broker in an illegal plan to buy $9 million worth of U.S. anti-tank missiles for Iran's war against Iraq agreed Friday to go to Florida to stand trial.

Fahrin Sanai, 52, whose husband also was arrested in the case, waived her right to a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Volney V. Brown Jr. and agreed to be sent to Orlando, where a U.S. District Court trial against the couple and five others is scheduled to begin Oct. 7. Federal authorities believe the alleged ring was based in the Orlando area.

The woman is charged with conspiracy to illegally export weapons to Iran and 14 counts of wire fraud.

Federal authorities said Sanai, her husband, Fadel N. Fadel, 52, and the other suspects were arrested last month after an undercover FBI agent learned of an alleged plan to send more than 1,100 TOW anti-tank missiles and other weapons to the government of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The export of U.S. arms to Iran has been illegal since November, 1979, after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, federal authorities said.

Offered to Put Up Home

Among the others arrested was Lt. Col. Wayne G. Gillespie, 46, who was assigned to the U.S. Army's missile command at the Pentagon.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeffrey Modisett said Sanai, who is a citizen of Iran, boasted to FBI Agent Richard Witkowsky, who was posing as a supplier of stolen U.S. weapons, that she represented "high-ranking" officials of the Tehran government.

Sanai allegedly offered to put up her large Calabasas home and jewelry, valued at $1 million, to help pay for the arms shipment to Iran, Modisett said.

During the negotiations for the arms, Hosseni Monshizadeh-Azar, 38, a man reputed to be a colonel in the Iranian army, appeared at a July 14 meeting at Sanai's home that also was attended by Witkowsky, Modisett said.

Other Missiles Sought

Monshizadeh-Azar, an Iranian citizen who had property holdings in this country, was subsequently arrested but has been silent in court on his alleged ties to Iran.

In addition to the TOW anti-tank missiles, the group allegedly schemed to also obtain Sidewinder, Harpoon, Sparrow AIM-7F, Sparrow AIM-7M, Phoenix and French Exocet missiles, federal authorities said.

The missiles, however, were never obtained for shipment, Modisett said.

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