tv Declassified CNN August 14, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
make that call. the national human trafficking resource center maintains a hot line 24/7. you can get it through information or in your phone book. have the courage to make that call. as a former fbi agent and chairman of the house intelligence committee, i had oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. my name is mike rogers. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives. people who risked everything for the united states and our families. you don't know their faces or their names. you don't know the real stories from the people who lived the fear and the pressure, until now. i know most people don't understand undercover work. it's the ultimate deception and
betrayal. a good undercover borrows from the craft of an actor. however, i think the stark differences are perhaps more significant. an actor is performing for an audience that is voluntarily suspending disbelief to participate in the fantasy. an undercover is performing for a primary audience that is desperately trying to unmask him. the difference is, we're not actors. undercovers can suffer disastrous physical calamity as a result of the job. whereas what does happen and doesn't happen in a given meeting can literally mean the difference of lif or death. i don't think everyone is appropriate for this kind of work, but i live for it.
get up! get up! >> after the first invasion in iraq, insurgencies started against the u.s. forces. homegrown insurgency. iraqis fighting against us and foreigners that came into iraq to fight against the u.s. ieds were used. improvised explosive devices were used against our forces. men were being killed, maimed. civilians were being killed and maimed by these ieds. >> insurgents use inocuous household items to make improvised explosive items or ieds. >> whenever you're dialing this number on the cell phones, it's activating and the ied goes off. >> what will most certainly mean injury or death. >> when you are looking at an ied, millions of little parts. we looked into it more. we started to see the ieds used inu rack against our military, it was determined that u.s.
parts were in the composition of those ieds. so our concern was that u.s. parts were being used against our military personnel. maiming and killing young men. we had to put a stop to that. >> i was an agent assigned to the sac philadelphia hsi office. homeland security investigations is the second largest federal agency in the government. we're within the department of homeland security and charged with investigating elicit trade, travel and finance. we were focused on arms and control technology being exported out of the united states. >> the impetus for this operation did not originate at a high governmental level. at the department of justice level, there was no funding to do this kind of case. the idea really was coming from
the local agents. so what we did was we built a team. everybody brought something to the table. it was sort of like the beatles. i think we were better together than apart. >> john's background was local police. he had done a lot of good work as a federal agent and he was definitely a cop's cop. >> i decided that we needed a prosecutor on board to be a partner. collaborator. so i knocked on dave's office and introduced myself. essentially gave him a sales pitch. dave was an easy sell. he bought on pretty quickly. >> we talked about the goal of this operation, which was to go after international arms dealers who were supplying adversaries of the united states. the question was, how are we going to do that? >> so at some point in 2003, we started doing some aggressive work in an undercover capacity. specifically, involving counterproliferation. we had an undercover
establishment called cross international. >> we were operating a front company in downtown philadelphia. and that purported to be dirty u.s. broker. >> was essentially a combination of warehouse space and office space. >> we had to be a legitimate business if you hoped to get business. i was fairly new to the federal agent job. i was put into an undercover role fairly quickly after i came on because i had previous military and police experience. >> and he had outstanding personality for meeting people, greeting people and for giving the appearance of a real salesman. >> and so i was working undercover as patrick lynch with cross international. undercover work is stressful. very stressful. because you have to always be who you are now. >> our strategy was we would target people trying to threaten
the united states by acquiring u.s. military technology. develop a relationship with them. sell them the part to show they're predisposed to violate the laws of the united states. we were trying to act like a real business. our development problem really was the same that any business would have which is, how do you get customers? which in our case were arms dealers who were already doing illegal deals. one way you do that is have a good website. we tried to supply coded language that indicated that we were willing to cut corners. because you don't say that outright. we can assist in you're unconvention export requirements. so we were operating under cover for maybe a year before we got a really credible target. he only identified himself to us as alex dave. he had sent an rfq, request for quote.
>> request for quote. so the bad guy says, i want ten of this. what's the price you can give me? >> he asked for a very wide range of military components. and some actually we assessed as being potentially for nuclear weapons purposes. >> obviously, this is an individual who is trying to get u.s.-controlled technology, weapons systems. it's scary as hell because you don't know who exactly you're dealing with. >> he was using some type of process that would always mask his final ip address. but we finally figured that out and determined his real name. >> turned out to be a guy names amir. and he was located in iran. we had received information that ieds were being manufactured in iran and then being sold to the insurgency in iraq. prior to 1979, the united states
provided the military infrastructure to support iran's defenses. they were an ally. good diplomatic relations with them. then they purchased everything pretty much from the united states. their military infrastructure. >> in 1979, the shah of iran lost his reign as the supreme leader. an anti-u.s. regime took over. they took our embassy by storm. took 400-plus american diplomats hostage. november 1979, we ended all diplomatic relations with iran. iran's entire military infrastruct surbased on u.s. military products. they require u.s. parts. they could not take their military defenses down and rebuild it again. so radar, sonar, all the
military components they'd need to keep running they had to obtain from the u.s. but they had to do it illegally. >> i think it's important to keep in mind what iran has been doing over the past several decades. i mean, one is it's been developing a nuclear weapons program. secondly, it's been supporting terrorism internationally. and third, it's been developing a ballistic missile program. and all of these activities are direct threats to u.s. national security. and they all depend on the acquisition of military components that are made in the united states. this was our big chance. something significant had to be done. ♪ [tires screeching] ♪
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when we first established cross international, one of the first inquiries, a guy named amir artibeli. he asked for a very wide range of military components and some actually we assessed as being potentially for nuclear weapons purposes. this guy is clearly bad news. so we needed to start a relationship with him in order to make a case like this happen. ardibeli used to send us requests for hundreds -- hundreds of requests for quotation. and we were constantly providing him quotes. for the most part, he was not closing a deal. we had a lot of instances where
he committed to us through e-mail he was going to procure something. we'd provide banking information and the money would never come. >> we almost had nothing from him and largely wrote him off because he wasn't really dealing with us. we wrnts sure if he got spooked. saw something he didn't like, which happens, or he's just flighty and didn't want to deal with us anymore. >> it's a never-ending learning curve. running ab undercover business is a tedious process because we're really not businesspeople. >> we are trying to figure out, are we doing things the right way because we're not in this trade. what we are is pretending to be in this trade. >> we needed to learn more about the illegal international arms market. >> basically, we needed help. >> we had a confidential source, an informant from great britain named [ bleep ]. >> he had been an arms dealer
for a long time. he was extremely well known in that world. he'd been working in it for decades and had many friends and many enemies and knew a great deal about how to trafficrms illegally internationally. and he told us how he had accomplished that over his career. he was providing us with the introductory course on how to become an arms dealer. he said in terms of dealing in that marketplay, you have to see and be seen. if you're nothing but a web presence, people are going to question your legitimacy. >> you have to be at the arms shows. be at the air shows. so we ended up going to the dubai air show in 2005. >> dubai international air show is an exhibition of aircraft and it's attended by major u.s. and foreign aircraft manufacturers,
people who supply aviation components. and the whole aviation industry participates in that. if you are an international arms dealer and you're trying to acquire u.s. components, it's a great place to meet people. one of the things [ bleep ] did with us was to accompany him at the air show. in order to create a true physical presence in the marketplace. and to basically vouch for us. >> we tried to set up some meetings prior to going and once [ bleep ] reached out, we finally made contact again with ardibeli. >> we had e-mailed him and told him we were going to be there at the air show and thought it might be plausible for him to make the short flight to dubai from iran. we started engaging with him again, and he was so persistent that we thought maybe he'd be willing to meet with us.
>> we went to the dubai air show. but he didn't show up. i don't think at that point there was enough of a comfort level with us that he wanted to come and meet with us. >> we were all feeling significant pressure at this point to succeed. the department of justice is not particularly encouraging of these kinds of cases. they are highly risky from their point of view. you're spending a lot of time and resources on something without anything positive to say about it. but we felt this is the sort of thing you can't fail at. it was very important operation in our minds. that's because it was about national security. we wanted to take down international arms dealers who were actually arming an adversary of the united states. and ardibeli was a very serious threat to national security in terms of his activities as an arms dealer.
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were arming themselves with u.s. munitions. so that accentuated the importance of arresting ardibeli. we'd been at this a long time so we all felt that pressure. but it was clear to us that's it was not going to be enough for us to be operating in the way that we had been. >> so we started trying to think what we could try and do and shake up the undercover. do we need to move the platform? >> i thought from a business perspective, it might be better if we had the appearance of being a european-based company. we knew that arms dealers were especially concerned when dealing directly with a u.s. company. >> so i reached out to our attache office in germany and asked if they'd be willing to partner with us because i knew darius was on staff. darius was a special agent with homeland security, posted in
europe. >> darius' reputation was a sterling reputation. particularly as an undercover. very smart, multilingual. very aggressive agent. >> is darruous his real name? >> no, darius is not his real name. it's a persona he's taken on to use as his identity when he deals with bad guys. >> i did my first undercover deal in 1979. and so having worked in the arms and technology arena as long as i did, in this case, i just saw that there was a great opportunity to make a case against someone genuinely involved in the black market arms trade. >> darius came to philadelphia where we sat down and came up with some outstanding ideas that's would give us good bona fides as a european business entity. and then we began to go forward in europe.
>> so i went back to frankfurt, germany, and opened a business. >> cross international now had a european storefront that was run by darius. that took away the direct u.s./iran connection. and now that established a middle man in europe. >> and then, again, we asked [ bleep ] to vouch for us. he'd already vouched for the u.s. company. and now we asked him to tell international arms dealers that darius was who he said he was. this was a crucial moment. and so [ bleep ] sent ardibeli an e-mail saying this is somebody you may be wanting to deal with. he might be very helpful to you. and ardibeli eventually responded that he had been waiting for such an opportunity. >> it really -- it did change the game. >> he was very interested in
this. the idea made sense to him because, in fact, this is the way a lot of black market operations work. >> ardibeli had been waiting to deal with a european company that could obtain u.s. parts. the first set of communications were all about, you know, familiarizing themselves with one another. they were not about any particular transaction. >> every keystroke is calculated. every oral conversation is one where every word counts. there's a lot of things that can go wrong, and that's the business. >> darius is very serious about his craft. he was pretending to be from this eastern european country. was speaking in a russian accent. and he was able to create that, you know, that myth with some effectiveness. >> we were haggling over price,
and it seemed like every third day he was submitting another request for one new item of technology or another. and we'd jump through hoops on our end to get him a price. then he wouldn't follow through with a purchase order. so it was a frustrating character to deal with. but this is the dance of doing a deal. i'm trying to deny the enemy the ability to build war machines, but to interrupt the transaction, you've got to be in the transaction. and were we concerned he might never do a deal? of course. but eventually, he committed to buying some phase shifter microships. these are little computer chips applicable to an air search radar. >> they track military aircraft in the sky and are used for targeting, aiming and shooting. he's buying an item that would be potentially used against our
air force. the initial round of chips was a thousand. and he was going to pay $88,000 for them with a 12% down payment. we're moving from the talk, the talk phase to the walk the walk phase. >> when the money did finally hit the bank account and it was verified, okay, we've gotten the wire, then it was really real. now we can culminate the deal and get him. the bud light party believes in change. that's why bud light has a new look... ...and we want to share it with everyone... jackpot! still the same refreshing bud light. with a new look.
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ardibeli wanted to purchase 1 thous phase shifters. they're used in phase array radar. >> they tack military aircraft in the sky and are used for target, aiming and shooting. he was buying an item that would be potentially used against our air force. >> our job was to go, provide the merchandise and once he was comfortable with the merchandise, he was going to pay us the remaining amount. >> so as darius' interactions with ardibeli become more and more concrete, we're trying to determine what the end game will be. where are we going to meet with him? where are we going to arrest
him? and do we know we can extradite him from that place? >> i proposed to amir that we do the exchange of the hardware in tubulisi, georgia. georgia was a logical choice from my standpoint because it was close geographically to iran, hoping he'd feel comfortable about going there. >> ardibeli was on board with this. but you need permission from the republic of georgia to have an undercover meeting and possible arrest and extradition following that undercover meeting. >> so in august of '07, darius, p.j. and i went to the republic of georgia to meet with the police to talk to them about our operational objectives and also to meet with the prosecutor general to get her concurence with our plan. she agreed to it in concept but told me that she would need a
diplomatic note that would come from the united states to the republic of georgia making this request. so we left the republic of georgia with a deal. everything is completely on track for success. >> it was myself, john melandra, dave hall and darius that travelled to republic of georgia to do the undercover meet. >> aucoctober 1st was a monday. we arrived at the republic of georgia that weekend. darius is communicating with ardibeli and telling him, i'm in georgia. i'm ready for you. >> on the dave ardibeli's arrival at the tblisi airport, we're going to be keeping eyes on darius. we want to make sure darius certainly was safe. second of all, we wanted to see if we made that first goal with ardibeli, his arrival. you never know if they're going
to show up. >> at the time this was a high anxiety event. we can do everything right but the bad guy has to commit the crime to make this a success. the mood of the moment was tense. >> and then he appeared. we certainly saw ardibeli and immediately almost attached to him was what appeared to be an 80-year-old man. and dave and i looked at each other and say, who is that? >> there's this other guy with him. we don't know who this guy is. we're thinking all kinds of things. is this an iranian intelligence services officer? who is this guy? so now we have this other person in the mix. we have no idea really who he is or what he's -- or what he's doing there. but outside, darius is wearing wrap-around shades. he's got these huge bodyguards
next to him. >> i met amir at the baggage claim. now as it turns out, he was with his father. >> ardibeli says it's my dad. agewise, it looks about right. but we're still wondering, why do you bring your father to this arms deal in the republic of georgia? >> i looked in amir's eyes. a host of body language cues you can pick up from someone in that situation. but there was no apprehension in him whatsoever. so it seemed like we were good to go. >> we worked with the georgians ahead of time to set up the two-day sting. the room itself was completely wired. we had a room next door to that that was a staging room where we had all the equipment and extra personnel to surveil it.
and then the entire hotel was basically under surveillance as well. >> we made a plan for what information we were trying to get from him. for example, we wanted more admissions as to his knowledge this was illegal under u.s. law. we wanted him to explain that he knew these were military components. and then, of course, we wanted to complete the transactions. this is where darius and p.j. would do what they had to do. and become international arms dealers. >> when an undercover is doing his or her job properly, they are operating on different levels simultaneously. the first level is we're being cognizant of the cameras and microphones so that the right people are facing the right camera at the right time. >> if you gentlemen would like
to drink tea or coffee or whatever -- >> another level you see is working is performing for the primary audience. that's the suspect. >> whatever you want to drink, we will have the people downstairs make for you. >> it was consistent with my role to be as charming as possible. every case might be very different. i have, on occasion, done the exact opposite, trying to raise somebody's anxiety level when it served a purpose. the work of an undercover is similar to that of a high-priced call girl. i am what you want me to be. >> tea. >> tea, tea. >> and making amir as happy and comfortable as possible was likely to disarm him. >> same version? same as the --
>> we purported ourselves to be essentially cousins and very close in a business relationship. and i didn't know darius very well. so the level of nervousness, it's very, very stressful. you have to remember, i was fairly new to the job. if you think of someone that goes undercover, it's not me necessarily. it's also scary as hell. you have to think about what you're doing all the time. if darius and i weren't on the same page with ardibeli was to figure out what was going on. obviously, that's not good for us. >> [ inaudible ]. >> every moment in the case it could fall apart. >> well, we have the same blood, but his side of the family married into irish. i am more eastern europe.
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whatever you want to drink, we'll have the people downstairs make for you. >> we had just succeeded in getting ard belly from iran to the republic of georgia. but we needed to get significant information in order to make this case happen. this is where darius and p.j. would do what they had to do. >> let me show you something here. >> it was consistent with my role as the undercover to be as charming as possible. >> so that you have memory of this time in georgia -- >> making amir as happy and comfortable as possible was likely to disarm him. >> these are pictures of my country. >> thank you very much. >> the uc must not be merely
credible and convincing. the uc must demonstrate complete psychological domination. once we got through with our elaborate pleasantries, we got down to business. >> how much is it? >> 1,000. >> 1,000. >> we did have flash chips. we had gone to make them, the manufacturer, and they put together a box that were real chips on top and blanks underneath that looked just like real chips. and the idea was he would accept delivery and then wire the rest of the money to our undercover account. >> i think i could provide money for you for two weeks -- >> in two weeks we get the rest of the payment? >> phase shifters track military aircraft in the sky and are used for targeting, aiming and shooting them. and for our evidence, we needed darius to get him to say that he
knew that these were military components. >> 50,000 pieces of -- >> why are you buying so many? >> the next level of the uc is performing for the jury. >> they are making a special radar. >> rudder? >> radar. >> radar, yes. >> one needs to get the information and the evidence clearly to be successful. >> yeah, this would be used for radar. >> for protection. >> day two, which was october 2nd, we wanted more admissions as to his knowledge this was illegal under u.s. law. >> we needed him to make redundant acknowledgments of
that. >> a lark netwo-- large network people working together. >> darius was trying to have ardibeli acknowledge and admit he was involved in an unlawful act with his co-conspirators, patrick and darius, and that he understood this was a conspiracy. he was breaking the law. but darius didn't want to use the word conspiracy. >> this large group of people, this collective compass of acquiring military equipment. we are all working together. >> yes. >> they are having this conversation and it's kind of a circle conversation. they're talking about it and talking about it because some words don't translate from farsi to english very well. and lo and behold in the hotel tbilisi hotel room there's four books on the room and one, just by chance, is an american dictionary. >> i need to look at your
connection connections. you are calling this -- this network or -- >> darius referred to it once as the magic show. and that's actually a pretty accurate description because it's all an illusion to get ardibeli to say what they need. >> all of these people, they're all together, conspiracy. when all are agreeing. it's a conspiracy. >> yes. >> they are all trying to get weapons and parts. >> so that kind of solidified the fact he understood he was in a conspiracy to acquire these parts illegally. >> and this is so illegal what we are doing. you know this? you know it is against the law but i tell you in america, this is dangerous. >> yes. >> darius is extremely
intelligent. i used to tell him he's playing chess. most others are playing checkers. >> i turn off the light. black market. >> good illustration. >> no misunderstandings. >> no. i really know. >> we prove he has knowledge of what he's doing. he knows it's illegal. he knows these components were for military purposes. >> if you can give us more information on what the customer is wanting, then we can start the relationships today. >> so now at this point, we wanted to see if he knew what iran's military intent was. >> if the united states come to war and the government could defense with war because they think the war is coming. >> we asked him what he wanted the technology for.
and he said the iranian government wanted it because they were preparing for war with the united states. that was in 2007. it's very scary. >> at the end of it all, he said, it was his way of saying they feared the united states was going to attack iraq. >> so he does understand what it's for. i don't think he cared because he was a businessman trying to make money. this is how he was going to make money. now of course what we needed was to complete the transaction. >> at this point i said we have
got everything. we have accomplished our objective. this man, it was time to finish the job and take ardibili out. >> one thing people might not understand is that it is not a particularly pleasant thing to do. one is destroying the life of someone who trusts you. >> darius had a glout to see what it was.
>> police officials from the republic of georgia came in and arrested amere, his father and i was put under arrest as well. ♪ is it a force of nature? or a sales event? the summer of audi sales event is here. get up to a $5,000 bonus on select audi models. t-mobile's coverage is unstoppable. and with extended range lte it reaches farther than ever. from the powder to the pavement, skylines, coastlines, out in the country, deep in the city.
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the sting, the arrest, every single thing i did was directed towards that final goal. >> the take-down team was in position to arrest him. we were arrested together essentially and they quickly took amir and his father. >> they made it look like they were arresting patrick and darius. >> they were released pretty quickly and i was released and then the georgians took over and took him to to their facility and were booking him on local charges. >> the crimes were export control laws and money law d laundering laws.
>> he was brought back to the united states in 2008. he pled guilty and received a sentence on all of those counts of five years. >> only five years? >> the sentence, if you want my personal opinion that sentence was too low and the sentences for all arms exporting defendants are too low. the judge was following the sentencing guidelines and in that context it was an appropriate sentence. so he served his sentence and was deported back to iran. >> a fair amount of resources were put in to pget amir over a number of years. we also got his network. >> we had his laptop and we were
using the laptop to develop cases against people we suspected had been his sources of supply in the united states. ultimately we did a number of spinoff investigations and charged something like 11 individuals and companies who had been suppliinvolved in supp ardibili. you need to be an optimist and drive forward. that is why john was so important, darius, p.j. it was a perfect storm of people. >> my guess is there are several thousand types around the world trying to obtain u.s. military technology to ultimately one day
use it against the united states. >> for many we that exsense waited arresting other people like him. this is what the united states needs to be doing. >> i want people to know that counter proliferation and the result of proliferation of our technology have dire consequences. the united states still that has technological edge in the balance of fields. if we hope to maintain that we have to watch out for the proliferationf our technology. >> i believe that it's alms a good thing to make a case against anyone who is genuinely involved in the black market arms trade. douglas mcarthur said war is a
lost eyelash. every time we make an apprehension there's a chill that goes all over the industry. it truly is the shot heard around the world. as a former fbi agent and chairman of the house intelligence committee, i had oversight of all 16 of our nation's intelligence agencies. i had access to classified information gathered by our operatives. people who risked everything for the united states and our families. you don't know their faces or their names. you don't know the real stories from the people who lived the fear and the pressure, until now. there was a cuban agent with access to classified information, placing our entire nation's future at risk. >> the spy was almost certainly in our building.
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