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F.B.I. Asserts Dealer Was Aware Airliner Would Be Missile Target

The clandestine meeting between the arms dealer and the prospective buyer of the surface-to-air missile, the government says, took place at a hotel with a commanding view of the runways at Newark International Airport on Sept. 17, 2002, less than a week after the first anniversary of the September 2001 hijackings. The two watched aircraft take off and land at the nearby airfield, according to an F.B.I. affidavit unsealed today in federal court in Newark. The arms dealer, Hemant Lakhani, a Briton born in India, told the buyer, who was in reality an F.B.I. informant, that he was aware that the shoulder-fired Russian-made missile would be used in an attack against a commercial airliner in the United States, the affidavit says. Mr. Lakhani also said, according to the affidavit, that he understood the economic harm such an attack would cause the United States. “Make one explosion . . . to shake the economy,” he is quoted as telling the buyer, described in the affidavit as “a cooperating witness.” Full Story

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