A federal jury in Baltimore found a Singapore citizen guilty Monday of conspiring to support a terrorist organization that wanted to ship American-made weaponry to rebels trying to overthrow the Sri Lankan government.
The Maryland U.S. attorney's office, which announced the conviction, said that Balraj Naidu, 48, and other conspirators tried to buy high-tech weapons on behalf of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. One such deal was orchestrated in Baltimore by undercover agents, who took an arms broker to a Harford County firing range so he could test out the weapons.
Naidu, whose weapons source unwittingly introduced him to an agent posing as a Maryland defense company representative, could receive a maximum of 15 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for December.
Trial evidence showed that Naidu and others wanted to buy $900,000 worth of U.S. weapons from the undercover agent — 28 tons of weapons and ammunition, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Four conspirators were indicted in the scheme in 2006, followed by Naidu in 2008 along with a Tamil Tigers financier.
The "Tamil Tigers" group uses guerrilla strategies and terrorist tactics in its efforts to establish an independent state for Tamil people within Sri Lanka, according to the U.S. State Department. The group uses "overt and illegal methods to raise funds, acquire weapons, and publicize its cause," according to the State Department, and has significant resources overseas.
The Tigers were declared a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, which means they can't raise money or obtain equipment in the United States, the U.S. attorney's office said.