Friday, 21 October 2011

Hey ... You Wanna Buy ... an Assault Rifle?

Quebec woman charged with trying to export assault rifle parts to Lebanon

AR-15 rifle
By Stewart Bell and Graeme Hamilton
MONTREAL — Young and striking in her black hijab, Mouna Diab was once active in a Quebec youth group that fought discrimination against Muslims by challenging the stereotypes that too often associate them with violence and terror.
But the outspoken 26-year-old activist had little to say this week after appearing in a Montreal courtroom to face a charge alleging she had violated a United Nations Security Council arms embargo that prohibits the export of weapons to Lebanon.
“I really have no comment to make,” she said. At the bungalow where she lives in suburban Laval, friends and family likewise declined to talk about the case. “She’s finding the whole ordeal very difficult,” her lawyer, Richard Prihoda, said.
Police said Ms. Diab was arrested at Montreal’s Trudeau airport on May 19 as she was departing for Beirut. In her luggage, investigators allegedly found parts of AR-15 assault rifles. Other parts were allegedly shipped separately.
Police said the components could have been assembled into working firearms. “If you put all the pieces together you could build or make two weapons with it,” said Cpl. Luc Thibault, a spokesman at the RCMP’s “C” Division in Montreal.
She pleaded not guilty on Thursday and returns to court Nov. 10. She is the only person charged so far in relation to the alleged scheme, which comes as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is struggling to staunch the flow of illicit arms into an unstable Lebanon.
The RCMP investigation was opened eight months ago by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Montreal, a unit set up following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and made up of Mounties, Quebec police and Montreal police officers.
“This investigation launched in February 2011,” Cpl. Thibault said. “It targeted a Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin who exported parts of assault weapons, which they call an AR-15.” He added, “Any criminal act that poses a potential threat to national security is dealt with very seriously by all law enforcement agencies including our national security enforcement team.”
Criminal charges against alleged violators of UN sanctions are rare in Canada, but not unprecedented. Last year, Mahmoud Yadegari of Toronto was sentenced to three years for attempting to ship nuclear-related items to Iran despite a UN embargo.

Nicolas Aasfouri/AFP/Getty Images
An Israeli air strike hits the outskirts of the southern Lebanese town of Tyre, Aug. 4, 2006

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