Using newly disclosed documents, the New York Times profiles the intricacies of the Drug Enforcement Administration's three-year pursuit of Tareq Mousa al-Ghazi and Monzer al-Kassar, who are being prosecuted in federal court in Manhattan on weapons charges. The case centers on Ghazi's 20-year relationship with Kassar, a bond that started in a Polish safe house in the 1980s and continued through a series of arms deals in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Yemen, many on behalf of Palestinian terror groups, investigators say.
The friendship eventually led to a sprawling sting investigation in which the D.E.A. claims to have caught the men trying to ship millions of dollars of rifles, pistols, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired rockets on a Greek freighter bound from Romania to Suriname for members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Before his arrest last June in Madrid, Kassar was a successful weapons dealer, a wanted man for more than 30 years and a globe-trotting criminal, investigators say, who played roles in the Iran-contra affair, the Achille Lauro hijacking and the Iraqi insurgency. Ghazi, meanwhile, was living peaceably in Lebanon, selling religious trinkets on the street. The paper explains the events that brought the men together.