Born in Afghanistan, fluent in Urdu (a major language of Pakistan and India), a merchant with a store called New York Jewels in the lobby of the posh Sheraton Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and a self-described provider of gems to the Saudi royal family, Abraham
would normally be identified as a 'person of interest' in any number of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement databases.
Considering the fact that Abraham's gem trading company, Ambuy International Corporation
, sits right in the middle of Manhattan's 47th Street 'Diamond District' and had locations in Antwerp, Milan, Bangkok, and Jeddah, he
was not included on any 'watch list' profiles created by the FBI
However, according to Israeli intelligence sources, Afghan-born Jews are highly prized by the Mossad, which had reportedly used them to infiltrate the Taliban
, along with a 68-year-old Indian-born and Hindu British arms smuggler named HemantLakhani (some spellings had his
first name as Hekmat [possibly his
Muslim alias] and Hemad) and an Indian resident of Malaysia named Moinuddeen Ahmed Hameed, were arrested by federal agents and local police in the New York metropolitan area on August 12 .
It was later reported that CW was Mohammed HabibRehman, also known as ' Haji' and said by detractors of the government's case against Lakhani
to be a 'small time swindler.' However, Rehman was recruited by the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) [the same agency that 'stung' Bout in Bangkok] in Pakistan around 1993.
Yehuda Abraham turned out to be the agent in question and the two Urdu speakers met on October 16 at Abraham's New York City diamond trading office where $30,000 in $100 bills was paid by Rehman to Abraham after the dollar bill serial number code was confirmed by the FBI informant.
After counting every bill, Abraham gave Rehman his business card, which stated he was Yehuda H. A. Abraham, President of Ambuy Gem Corp., 580 Fifth Avenue, New York.
later charged Lakhani
a $1500 fee for the transaction.
Federal prosecutors said Abraham
wired the $30,000 to a bank account in Europe as a show of 'good faith' to the Russian arms dealers.
In court papers filed by prosecutors, Abraham's financial transfer network was described as an Islamic hawalah cash transfer system.
and Hameed, who were awaiting the delivery of the $500,000 missile payment, were arrested and Abraham's computers and files were seized.
The one-dollar bill with the serial number used in previous transactions was found in the possession of Hameed in Abraham's office.
Hameed told Rehman the bill had been kept in Abraham's office.
U.S. law enforcement officials reported that Abraham
brought Hameed to the United States from Malaysia to facilitate the laundering of the $500,000 for the additional 50 IGLAs.
The government also had evidence that Lakhani and Abraham worked together in the past.
Court papers indicate that Rehman conversed with Hameed, Lakhani
, and Abraham
is reported to have told Rehman that Abraham
was 'very trustworthy.'
reportedly spent enough time in Bangkok [where Bout
was ultimately arrested and jailed on behalf of the United States] to help start a synagogue and open a kosher kitchen.
'highly discerning clientele' in Saudi Arabia and his
operations in Jeddah and Bangkok would have been of immense interest to law enforcement.
The BBC reported that about the same time the sting was being launched against Abraham and Lakhani in the United States and JemaahIslamiya leader Hambali was being arrested in Thailand, Saudi police seized a truckload of SAMs on a desert road near Jeddah.
The truck was apparently en route from the Yemeni border to the Saudi port city.
had shown up on the FBI
and FSB radar screens before.
Like Abraham, he
also maintained close connections to Arabian Peninsula ruling elites, in his
case, the ruling families of the United Arab Emirates.
The onset of the Monrovia operation followed by only two days the arrest of Abraham