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US Arrests 3 Suspected of Missile Smuggling - 2003-08-12

The FBI Tuesday arrested three men in Newark, New Jersey on suspicion of attempting to smuggle surface-to-air missiles into the United States.

Law enforcement officials describe one man as a British national of Indian descent. The other two men are described as Afghans. Their names were not released. The British man allegedly sought to smuggle a Russian-built surface-to-air missile into the United States.

Officials say he is an arms dealer and does not appear to be connected to any terrorist group. But they say he probably intended to sell the shoulder-fired weapon in the United States for terrorist purposes. The Afghan men were allegedly involved with the transfer of money in the sale. Authorities say the arrests were not linked to a specific terror threat.

In November terrorists believed to be linked to al Qaida used similar shoulder-fired rockets during a failed attempt to hit an Israeli plane as it departed from Mombasa, Kenya.

FBI, British and Russian agents put together the international sting operation that led to the three arrests. FBI officials were not available for comment.