Iran Contra colonel gets caught for arms smuggling… again

Some people just don’t know when to quit. You’d think that having one showdown with federal prosecutors would be enough to last you a lifetime. Or if not, that seeing the charges against you get dropped would serve as a sign that, maybe, you got lucky and shouldn’t tempt fate again. Not so for one ...

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

Some people just don't know when to quit. You'd think that having one showdown with federal prosecutors would be enough to last you a lifetime. Or if not, that seeing the charges against you get dropped would serve as a sign that, maybe, you got lucky and shouldn't tempt fate again. Not so for one Joseph O'Toole, whom the Justice Department is trying for arms smuggling for the second time in as many decades.

Some people just don’t know when to quit. You’d think that having one showdown with federal prosecutors would be enough to last you a lifetime. Or if not, that seeing the charges against you get dropped would serve as a sign that, maybe, you got lucky and shouldn’t tempt fate again. Not so for one Joseph O’Toole, whom the Justice Department is trying for arms smuggling for the second time in as many decades.

O’Toole’s new court fight will take place over his alleged involvement in shipping AK-47s to East Africa’s most lawless non-state, Somalia. A surge in violence there this summer — including a pair of mosque bombings and attacks on the country’s parliament and presidential palace — have killed peacekeepers, civilians, and militant rebels alike, despite a continued UN arms embargo

According to his indictment, O’Toole — a retired U.S. Air Force colonel — sought to hire a transportation service to ship seven-and-a-half tons of assault rifles to northern Somalia. It would be a $116,000 deal, with a $2,000 commission for O’Toole. Unfortunately, this is probably the most expensive two grand the colonel has ever made; his source at the shipping company turned out to be working with U.S. customs agents.

O’Toole’s Somali smuggling trial comes almost twenty years after he and an Israeli co-conspirator were accused of illegally selling military cargo planes to Iran, and over 700 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to someone else. The two men got off light that time, evidently because the evidence was too thin, but as they say — if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

Hat tip: Laura Rozen

Brian Fung is an editorial researcher at FP.
Tag: Iran

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