Retired US colonel charged with smuggling weapons to Somalia



A retired US Air Force colonel, who was charged with weapons smuggling during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, has been indicted again, this time for trying to smuggle automatic weapons into Somalia. US federal authorities accuse Joseph O’Toole, now 79, of conspiring with Israeli citizen Chanoch Miller, formerly an aeronautics engineer with Israeli defense firm Radom Aviation, to transport nearly 2,000  AK-47s from Bosnia to Banderal, Somalia. The smuggling operation, which employed forged end-user certificates issued in Chad, violated US weapons export control regulations, which are in compliance with a United Nations weapons embargo to war-ravaged Somalia. This is the second time O’Toole has been indicted with conspiring to smuggle weapons. In 1989, he was charged of working with fellow-American Richard St. Francis and Israeli alleged ex-Mossad operative Ari Ben-Menashe, to sell several US C-130 cargo airplanes to the Iranian government. Remarkably, the US government dropped all charges against O’Toole in 1991. But the former US Air Force colonel appears to have failed to learn from that experience. This time around, the source that he and Miller tried to enlist to transport the AK-47s to Somalia was actually a US Customs and Immigrations Enforcement agency informant, who turned both of them in. Politico’s Laura Rozen contacted O’Toole’s wife, who refused to comment on her husband’s indictment. But the case has prompted Yossi Melman, veteran security correspondent for Israel newspaper Ha’aretz, to ponder why there are so many Israelis arrested over illegal arms deals worldwide. Melman writes that “[a]t least seven Israeli arms dealers are currently in jail in four countries –the United States, Russia, France and Britain– on charges of illegal arms dealing […], forgery, bribery, money laundering and violating UN Security Council embargoes. Such arrests are briefly covered in Israel and then forgotten. But they have a cumulative effect that is very damaging to Israel’s image, or what remains of it”, notes the journalist and author.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

5 Responses to Retired US colonel charged with smuggling weapons to Somalia

  1. Dr. Monkey says:

    Gun running, it’s not just for the IRA anymore!

  2. stuartbramhall says:

    It also seems rather addictive, just like narcotics trafficking and money laundrying. I wonder what else O’Toole did between 1987 and 2009 that simply escaped official notice. It’s good, though, that some of these crooks are finally going to jail. Now it’s time to go after some of the crooked CIA and DEA folks that are trafficking drugs on the Mexican border. Iran-Contra was a real wake up call for me. I watched the hearings mainly because I was starting to have strange problems myself (phone harassment, break-ins) after coming into possession of “sensitive” information. I wanted to know who did this kind of thing and why. I write about my experiences in my recent memoir THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE (I currently live in exile in New Zealand).

  3. KMansfield says:

    Ari Ben-Menashe wrote a few books. In He says that he was set up as a fall guy by Israel.
    ” O’Toole’s case had been severed from ours, at our request, because he had cooperated with the government in setting me up. Later he was accused, falsely, of illegally trying to sell Stinger missiles from Israel to an unidentified nation. The few friends I had left in the Israeli government helped set him up, forcing the U.S. to indict him. So now O’Toole and I were even.”
    He says that he and Richard St. Francis were both found innocent.
    Strangely enough it was a US Customs agent posing as someone else that was part of their prosecution. He also said O’Toole worked as a contractor doing weapons deals for the CIA.
    Seems like they come in handy for fall guys as a last good purpose.

  4. IH8Zionists says:

    Im not surprised US had its hand in smuggling weapons to somali thugs who use it to kill the poor people. US always funds the wrong groups.

  5. robertsgt40 says:

    The CIA doesn’t like competition. Remember the 2000 AK-47s that were found in shipping containers in CA. a few years ago?

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