March, 19 2019 /Politics, Law & Society

Illegal arms trafficking business in Lebanon is fueling conflict in the Middle East

Weapons smuggling in conflict zones is the backbone of terrorist organizations to fight against the military
 

In recent years investigators have noticed a stark shift in where weapons used by terrorists to commit crimes are coming from. One concerning trend is Lebanese business owners are selling weapons illegally to the terrorist groups. The allure of a quick sale of arms at a high-profit margin is one reason for the illegal arms trade.

Tony Abi Saab is an illegal arms dealer who is helping rebel groups by fulfilling the demands of weapons by the terrorists in Syria and Iran where international military forces are deployed in a huge number. Tony’s main company, Brescia Middle East, an international arms dealer, was indicted for selling weapons to the terrorists active in war-torn countries. BME imported weapons to Lebanon and supplying it to terrorist groups through mainly two Italian firms—Beretta and Tanfoglio, and later diverting it to Syria and Iran.

Abi Saab has a web of shell companies in the Middle East and Europe which are helping terrorist groups to fulfill their malevolent motives. His shell companies have a presence in France: Noble France sa — in Germany: Umarex gmbh & co KG — Turkey: Osmanli Arms, ISTANBUL and KONYA, KOMANDO AV SAN TIC LTD, ATA Av tufekleri— Italy: Benelli Armi, franchi division, Fiocchi munizione, Armeria brignoli silvio & c snc , BLS, — Georgia: Kula Ltd., Tiblisi, — Bulgaria: Arsenal, — Czech Republic: MSN and CSG Group, — Ukraine: Berkut Ltd, — Brasil: Condor.

BME was also involved in laundering the illegal money obtained through the terrorists and with the help of a banker friend wires them to the bank accounts of Tony’s shell companies. In 2011, Tony was caught red-handed in a sting operation orchestrated by the US Army. The shell companies operated by Tony—K5 Global and Bennet-Fouch—swindled 5 million dollars of the US Army. He was arrested but escaped the jail term due to a technicality in the circuit court. Although BME was banned from doing business in the US, Tony is currently roaming freely without any guilt and doing his illicit arms trade business worldwide.

The illegal trafficking of weapons is dangerous to the life of people in Syria and Iran. There is always a possibility that even the firearms purchased legally can flow into the hands of people who want to use them to commit carnage. Therefore, the UN should make strict laws and policies which should maintain a database of import and export of arms, owner details that have acquired arms, and also tighten the border security to deter illegal arms trafficking.

 
Chief Editor
2019-03-19
Lebanon