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Man convicted of trying to buy U.S. weapons for Tamil Tigers

By Carol Cratty, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Naidu, co-conspirators accused of seeking weapons for Tamil Tigers
  • The Tamil Tigers sought to overthrow Sri Lanka's government
  • The 26-year insurgency ended last year
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Washington (CNN) -- A Singapore man was convicted by a Maryland jury Monday of attempting to purchase American arms for use by the Tamil Tigers, a U.S. designated terrorist group in Sri Lanka.

Balraj Naidu, 48, was found guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group, and he now faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

According to a press release by the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland, Naidu and his co-conspirators wanted to obtain grenade launchers, sniper rifles, machine guns and other state-of-the-art U.S. weapons. In 2006, Naidu and his associates started dealings with an agent for an undercover business in Maryland to obtain weapons. According to the U.S. attorney's office, one of Naidu's co-conspirators named Haniffa Bin Osman during the summer of 2006 traveled to Baltimore, where he examined the arms and test-fired many of them.

Representatives of the Tamil Tigers then made a wire transfer to the undercover business for $250,000. That was a down payment on a total price of $900,000. The government says 28 tons of weapons and ammunition were air-lifted to Guam. A group of conspirators inspected the shipment and then another payment of $450,000 was transferred to the undercover business.

At that point, Naidu and his co-conspirators were arrested.

Naidu is scheduled to be sentenced in December. Osman and three others pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from three years to almost five years.

The Tamil Tigers organization sought to overthrow the government of Sri Lanka in a 26-year insurgency that ended last year. The group frequently used suicide bombers to attack military and civilian targets.

The State Department designated the group a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997, and it is not allowed to buy weapons or try to raise money in the United States.