An Israeli man was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport Monday and is expected to be extradited to the US where he has been charged with selling arms — including spare parts for fighter jets — to Iran.
Eli Cohen, 64, was arrested by Israeli forces at the request of the US while attempting to flee the country. The Department of Special International Affairs filed a request with the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Monday to extend his remand, to grant the US more time to formally file for extradition. The court approved a two-day extension on Cohen’s arrest on Monday afternoon.
Cohen was indicted last week in a federal court in Connecticut for illegally exporting spare parts for F-4 and F-14 combat aircraft to Iran, illegally moving military equipment out of the US, and money laundering.
Cohen was convicted and served time in prison in the US in the past. According to the remand request, “the actions attributed to the defendant and his earlier conviction indicate that his criminal activities are ongoing, ingenious, and uninhibited.”
He could face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine should he be convicted.
Cohen and his brother-in-law Avihai Weinstein were reported to be arrested in February for allegedly trying to sell and ship military equipment to Iran in violation of international sanctions.
Greek officials, working together with the American Homeland Security Investigations agency, uncovered two shipments of spare parts for F-4 Phantom jets, in December 2012 and again in April 2013, the Athens daily Ekathimerini reported.
The two had previously tried to send shipments to Iran via intermediary states such as the United States, Germany, Thailand and Portugal, Channel 2 reported. According to the report, Cohen had been investigated on such charges six times over the past 12 years.
Cohen and Weinstein live in Bnei Brak where they are heavily involved in the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community, Ynet News reported in February.
The men were originally from a Religious Zionist background, but later, after some legal troubles, moved into the ultra-Orthodox world, where they were “received with joy,” a community source said, who added that they are now an “integral” part of the community.
The two own the R.S.P. REBUILT SPARE PARTS LTD. company in Binyamina.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.