AMU Homeland Security Intelligence Middle East Opinion

Iranian Convicted in Nigeria of Arms Smuggling

By William Tucker

An Iranian national was convicted of illegally smuggling military armaments in Nigeria today. Azim Aghajani, the Iranian national, and Nigerian Usman Jega, were convicted on four of five counts of trying to smuggle weapons into West Africa. The MV Everest was seized by Nigerian authorities in 2010 after the destination listed on the shipping manifest was changed while the ship was in the Tin Can port of Lagos. The company that was allegedly shipping the weapons was listed as Behineh Trading, a front company of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Qod Force. Behineh Trading has been identified as being involved in other arms smuggling cases such as the MV Francop shipment that was interdicted by the Israelis before landing in Syria. Iran is barred from shipping military equipment and munitions internationally due to numerous UN sanctions levied against the country. Iran initially denied the charge by the Nigerians claiming that the shipment was sent by a private company, but following a UN inquiry that claim was dismissed. As a result of these smuggling attempts the UN, U.S., and the EU have designated Behineh as a company involved in illicit arms trafficking. Though this case took several years before the accused parties were convicted, the UN and many member nations already took the initiative to bar several Iranian companies from doing business in their respective countries because of the numerous accusations. The designations of these front companies does help with the enforcement of sanctions, however Iran’s continuous attempts to move weapons into Africa and the greater Middle East over the last few years demonstrate that Tehran is unwilling to stop using this method in pursuit of its foreign objectives.

William Tucker serves as a senior security representative to a major government contractor where he acts as the Counterintelligence Officer, advises on counterterrorism issues, and prepares personnel for overseas travel. His additional duties include advising his superiors in matters concerning emergency management and business continuity planning.

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