Military Intelligence is indeed an oxymoron.
The U.S. Army has approved the purchase of more than $29 million worth of weapons for the new Iraqi army from a Chinese state-owned company [Poly Technologies] that’s under indictment in California in connection with the smuggling of 2,000 AK-47 automatic rifles into the United States in 1996.
The haul remains the largest seizure of smuggled automatic weapons in U.S. history.
It isn’t clear whether the deal, which comes as the Bush administration is pressing the European Union to maintain an embargo on high-tech arms sales to China, was discussed or approved by higher-ranking officials at the State and Defense departments. Hungary, Poland and Romania, all members of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, could supply the same weapons. China opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Iraq is awash in AK-47s and other weapons, but American commanders want new weapons for the new army.
Dynasty Holding of Atlanta, the name under which Poly Technologies did business in the United States, was charged in the smuggling case, along with 14 co-defendants, including Bao Ping “Robert” Ma, a former Chinese army general who was the firm’s U.S. representative, according to the May 1996 federal grand jury indictment.
Ma and three co-defendants were also charged with smuggling 20,000 AK-47 bipods into the United States from China in December 1994.
Ma is a fugitive believed to be in China, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The 30-count indictment stemmed from a sting operation mounted by undercover U.S. Treasury and U.S. Customs Service agents, who posed as organized-crime arms dealers.
The agents paid $700,000 for 2,000 fully automatic AK-47s that were shipped into Oakland, Calif., aboard a Chinese-owned vessel from China in March 1996.
A key figure in the plot who pleaded guilty, Hammond Ku, a resident alien from Taiwan, suggested to the undercover agents that the weapons be sold to “gang bangers,” or street gangs, according to an affidavit from a U.S. Customs agent that accompanied the indictment.