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Ambuy Gem Corp.
Ambuy Gem Corp.
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 or CIA. However, according to Israeli intelligence sources, Afghan-born Jews are highly prized by the Mossad, which had reportedly used them to infiltrate the Taliban in Afghanistan. Abraham, 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 and Abraham 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. Abraham 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. There, Abraham 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 in Urdu. Lakhani is reported to have told Rehman that Abraham was 'very trustworthy.' Abraham 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. Abraham's '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. Lakhani 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 and Lakhani.
Separate criminal complaints were filed against Yehuda Abraham, 75, a New York City jeweler and money remitter, and Moinuddeen Ahmed Hameed an Indian citizen.Hameed arrived from Malaysia yesterday allegedly as part of the planned sale of another 50 missiles.The third defendant, Abraham, was expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Manhattan sometime today.Criminal charges were also filed against Yehuda Abraham, the owner of Ambuy Gem Corp. in New York City, for allegedly helping to arrange the delivery of a $30,000 down payment between the cooperating witness and Lakhani.Abraham, of New York, who also owns a money remittance business, was arrested today and charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.Abraham and Hameed: conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, five years and a $250,000 fine.
Yehuda Abraham, the 75-year old president of Ambuy Gem Corp., was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the Diamond District and charged with planning a $30,000 money transfer for the purchase of shoulder-launched missiles. According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New Jersey, Abraham received the money, a down payment for missiles that were to be used to shoot down a commercial airliner, from Hemant Lakhani, 68, a British arms dealer who is being held without bail.The payment was made through an FBI informant last October, and Abraham apparently laundered the money to overseas accounts held by Lakhani. While Abraham was scheduled to be arraigned yesterday in Manhattan on charges of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, his son, Gideon, was protesting his innocence outside his father's Fifth Avenue office.
In fact, this communique from Peshawar is born out by the story of Ambuy Gem Corporation president Yehuda Abraham, who was arrested at his New York "Diamond District" office in 2003 for his involvement in a Russian shoulder mounted missile launcher smuggling ring involving a British national with ties to the Viktor Bout smuggling ring, Hemant Lakhani, and a Malaysian national believed to have ties to Jemaah Islamiya, the Al Qaeda affiliate in southeast Asia.
Abraham, a Bukharan Jewish native of Afghanistan who spoke Pashto and Urdu. An well-placed Israeli source told WMR that Afghan-born Jews are so rare, Abraham would "have most certainly been used as an agent by Mossad." But Abraham, like Zim Shipping, had special dispensation under the Arab boycott of Israel. A U.S.-Israeli dual national, Abraham maintained a diamond store in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His primary clientele: the Saudi royal family. It was also discovered that Abraham was operating a "hawalah" -- an Islamic money transfer network -- from his diamond business.
Moinuddeen Ahmed Hameed of Malayasia and Yehuda Abraham, 76, the owner of Ambuy Gem Corp. in New York City, were charged with operating unlicensed money transmitting businesses for allegedly arranging illegal money transfers for the deal.A magistrate in New York set bail for Abraham at $10 million and confined him to his home.Abraham is ill, said his attorney Larry Krantz."It was not alleged that Mr. Abraham engaged in conversations discussing missiles and terrorist activity," Krantz said.Last October, the informant gave $30,000 in hundred dollar bills to Abraham to transfer to Lakhani.To help Abraham transmit the $500,000, Hameed flew in to New York from Malayasia, officials said.When Lakhani turned up for the meeting Tuesday, he told the informant that Abraham and Hameed were waiting for the money transfer in Abraham's New York office, and federal agents arrested the two there.Lakhani faces penalties of up to 25 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.Hameed and Abraham could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.