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Bush Praises Arrest of Alleged Missile Merchant - 2003-08-13

U.S. President George Bush has praised the arrest of a British arms merchant charged with smuggling surface-to-air missiles into the United States. Mr. Bush says it's an example of the progress being made in efforts to protect the American people.

The president said his administration is doing all it can to protect the nation and make sure the airports and waterways are safe. He says the arrest of Hemant Lakhani provides proof.

"We are doing everything possible to protect the homeland," said Mr. Bush. "And the fact we are able to sting this guy is a pretty good example of what we are doing in order to protect the American people."

Mr. Lakhani, a British citizen of Indian descent, has been charged with aiding terrorists by trying to smuggle a shoulder-fired missile into the United States for sale to a terrorist group.

His arrest followed an international undercover operation. American officials say he bought the missile from Russian agents posing as arms merchants, and then sold it to American agents posing as terrorists who indicated they wanted to blow up a commercial airliner.

The government's prosecutor in the case calls it a victory for the war on terrorism. He says there is no question Mr. Lakhani was sympathetic to terrorists who want to hurt the United States.