Israeli Man Indicted on Charges of Exporting U.S. Defense Articles to Iran

May 25, 2014

Publication Type: 

  • International Enforcement Actions

Weapon Program: 

  • Military

Related Country: 

  • Greece
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland


Wisconsin Project Staff

Israeli citizen Eliyahu Cohen (a.k.a. Eli Cohen) was arrested in Israel on May 12, 2014 on charges of conspiring to export U.S. defense articles without a license. His arrest follows an investigation into a network of entities involved in the illicit export of military parts from the United States. A February 2007 indictment charged Cohen and his various companies with violating the Arms Control Export Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and conspiracy to commit money laundering. A May 2013 superseding indictment – unsealed on May 14, 2014, but redacted – adds two additional AECA violations and two violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to the earlier charges against Cohen. Cohen remains in Israeli custody, and the United States is seekign his extradition. If convicted on all counts, Cohen faces a maximum prison term of 130 years and a fine of up to $7.5 million.

In December 2012, Cohen (doing business as Q.P.S., P. AD., Wheels, and R.S.P. Spare Parts Ltd.) attempted to reexport a U.S.-origin Constant Speed Drive for the F-4C fighter jet from Israel to Iran via Athens, Greece. And in March 2013, Cohen attempted to route a U.S.-origin sensor for the F-14 fighter jet from Israel to Iran via Athens. Both cases reportedly involved a Greek company near Athens registered under the name Tassos Karras SA.

Earlier, between 2000 and 2004, Cohen used a network of companies established in Israel and Panama to acquire defense articles on the U.S. Munitions List without the necessary license. For example, in October 2000, Cohen used his Israel-based company P. AD. to acquire turret hatch springs from an American manufacturer for the V150 Armored Vehicle. The goods were then routed through a series of unidentified U.S. companies before they were ultimately shipped to Israel on an Air Canada flight in November 2000.

Cohen also worked with unindicted co-conspirator Leib Kohn (a.k.a. Leo Cohn) and Kohn's Brooklyn-based companies, L&M Manufacturing Inc. and Nesco Inc., as well as an unindicted co-conspirator in Los Angeles known only as "SW" and doing business as M.M.M., Inc., to illegally import American military hardware to his firm in Israel. These goods included a motor, engine drain fittings, and cylinder assemblies (labeled as "plumbing parts for repair") for the F-4 fighter jet; an audio frequency amplifier for the F-5 fighter aircraft; and five wire harnesses specifically designed for use in the Hawk Missile system's guidance radar. The Hawk Missile system is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system designed to destroy missiles in flight. It is no longer used by the United States but is used by Iran.

The indictment alleges that Cohen attempted to export a Klystron oscillator for the Hawk Missile system from a Connecticut firm in June 2002; however, the names of the individuals and comapnies involved in brokering the deal are redacted. Cohen was also charged with money laundering; according to the indictment, he moved funds through Israel, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Switzerland in support of his illegal activities.

Leib Kohn and his companies, L & M Manufacturing and Nesco, pleaded guilty in 2004 to sending unlicensed U.S. defense articles to Cohen's Q.P.S. in Israel. Israeli authorities, working in conjunction with American officials, seized some of the items at a warehouse owned by Q.P.S. in Binyamina, Israel. Kohn was sentenced in 2007. He received a thirty-day prison term, a $25,000 fine, and was statutorilly debarred from participating in the export of defense articles for a minimum of three years. Eli Cohen was reportedly also arrested and questioned by Israeli authorities at that time but apparently not charged.


[1] "Citizen of Israel Charged With Violating U.S. Arms Export Laws," Press Release, United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, May 15, 2014.

[2] "Report: Israeli Arms Dealers Tried to Sell Iran Spare Jet Parts," Haaretz, February 17, 2014.

[3] Superseding Indictment, United States of America v. Eliyahu Cohen a/k/a Eli Cohen, Q.P.S. Ltd., Wheels, Inc., P. AD. Ltd., and R.S.P. Spare Parts Ltd., Case Number 3:07CR22 (SRU), U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, May 8, 2013.

[4] Notice, Statutory Debarment Under the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, United States Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Federal Register Volume 72, Number 175, p. 51885, September 11, 2007.

[5] "Brooklyn Man Who Violated U.S. Arms Export Control Act is Sentenced," Press Release, United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, May 7, 2007.

[6] "Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty to Violating U.S. Arms Export Control Act," Press Release, United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, December 15, 2004.

[7] Indictment, United States of America v. Leib Kohn a/k/a Leo Cohn, L & M Manufacturing Corp, and Nesco NY Inc., Case Number 3:04-cr-125 (CFO), U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, April 15, 2004.

[8] Arieh O'Sullivan, "2 Israelis Suspected of Selling Arms to Iran," The Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2004.

[9] Yossi Melman, "Sources: Two Israelis Suspected of Smuggling Weapons to Iran," Haaretz, March 21, 2004.

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