Russian-German National Arrested For Illegally Exporting To Russia Sensitive U.S.-Sourced Microelectronics With Military Applications In Violation Of U.S. Export Controls
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York (“FBI”), announced that ALI SOOFI, a Canadian-Iranian dual citizen, was sentenced to 32 months in prison for his participation in a conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”). SOOFI was charged and arrested by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) following a federal investigation. SOOFI pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate IEEPA on September 7, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román, who imposed today’s sentence.
According to the Indictment filed against SOOFI, other court documents publicly filed in this case, and statements made in court proceedings, including today’s sentencing:
Between 2014 and December 2016, SOOFI conspired to export military items from the United States to Iran, both directly and through transshipment to intermediary countries, without a license. In particular, SOOFI acted as a broker on behalf of Iranian clients, including a high-ranking official in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”), who sought American military technology. Over the course of the conspiracy, SOOFI sought to purchase and ship numerous items, including helicopters, high-tech machine gun parts, tank parts, and military vehicles, from the United States to Iran, all without a license and while knowing that such shipments were illegal under U.S. law. During the multi-year conspiracy, SOOFI worked to fill specific orders for the IRGC by contacting other individuals with access to the requested military items through email, phone, and in-person meetings.
The IRGC consists of an army, navy, and air force, Basij Resistance Force, and Qods Force. Current IRGC forces consist of approximately 150,000 naval, ground, and air fighters, although the number of Qods Force fighters is unknown. The IRGC has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, for its activities in support of the Qods Force, which consistently provides support to terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Taliban.
One of SOOFI’s customers was a Commander in the IRGC, who acted as a key figure at the Iranian Ministry of Defense responsible for procurement of parts and weapons. Among the weapons SOOFI sought on behalf of the IRGC were dampeners – or shock absorbers – which allow high-tech machine guns to be mounted on helicopters and boats. In addition, SOOFI sought to obtain slewing rings for tanks, military helicopters, target sights, jet engines, and military vehicles such as Humvees for the IRGC. During one meeting in December 2016 during which SOOFI sought to acquire some of these military items, SOOFI explained that the items he sought were “for military for defense” and emphasized that the IRGC specifically wanted American military technology.
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In addition to the prison term, SOOFI, 63, of Canada, was sentenced to one year of supervised release.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. SOOFI’s arrest is the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Maurene Comey is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Elizabeth Cannon from the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.