"Iranian national convicted for illegally exporting goods for Iranian petro-chemical industry"

Hi Gang:
My commentary today is predicated on two news releases issued by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) about the successful investigation, arrest and subsequent conviction of Mehdi Khorramshahgol, an apparent naturalized citizen of the United States and native of Iran.      
On March 8, 2013 ICE posted the news release that announced the arrest of the defendant on the previous day:
On August 22, 2013 the ICE news release announced:
Both news releases are attached below
Here is an excerpt from the ICE August 22nd news release:

Mehdi Khorramshahgol, 50, conspired with others in Iran to purchase industrial goods from United States businesses for the Iranian petrochemical industry. The defendant falsely represented that the end users for his purchases were in Dubai. After the defendant purchased the goods and shipped them to Dubai, other co-conspirators repackaged the goods for onward shipment to Tehran. The conspiracy used a series of false invoices, false-end users and front companies to hide its illicit activity.

Khorramshahgol was indicted April 25 on four counts of violating and conspiring to violate the U.S. economic sanction on Iran, one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and one count of aiding and abetting a material false statement.

What is disconcerting is that the March 8, 2013 ICE issued news release made it clear, beginning with the title of that news release, that Mehdi Khorramshahgol was described as being, a “U.S. citizen and Iranian national.”  The obvious question is why the news release that heralded his conviction simply described him as being a “former Centreville resident.”
The fact that he is a United States citizen, most likely having acquired United States citizenship via naturalization was ignored in the most recent ICE news release.
This is pure speculation on my part, however, I concern is that the managers at the DHS and, perhaps the White House, may have been concerned that this story would again raise concerns about the way that applications for naturalization and other immigration benefits that are adjudicated by USCIS may lack sufficient integrity.  
Certainly the integrity of these processes are a huge concern.  But this is one of those issues never discussed in conjunction with the ongoing debates about DREAMERS and the way that applications for DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) are currently being adjudicated without even a face-to-face interview.
Furthermore, it is USCIS that would have to deal with the onslaught of what would likely be tens of millions of applications for amnesty should Comprehensive Immigration Reform ultimately be enacted.  It is, as I have said, speculation on my part, but not without cause!
There is no publicly available information about when, where or how the defendant in this case first entered the United States or how he became a resident alien and ultimately a United States citizen.  However, it would be important to know if he committed fraud in acquiring lawful status in the United States which, undoubtedly enabled him to ultimately commit the crimes for which he has been convicted.
Given the was that DHS goes about its vital missions, I am not confident that anyone is even giving thought to reviewing Khorramshahgol immigration file to determine if their were any irregularities or evidence of fraud.  This is not about an academic curiosity but about determining if he should be charged with immigration and/or naturalization fraud.
If he did, in fact, commit fraud in these immigration applications, he could be potentially stripped of his United States citizenship and, once his jail sentence is completed, deported from the United States.  Absent this sort of effort, he will be entitled to remain in the United States when he completes his jail sentence.  
This is a matter of national security.

Next you should focus on the sophisticated way that the equipment was sent from the United States to Dubai.  Again, let’s consider this sentence from the ICE news release:

The conspiracy used a series of false invoices, false-end users and front companies to hide its illicit activity.

Iran has a large and growing presence in Latin America and a has frequently threatened to take action against the United States if its nuclear program is attacked by the United States, Israel or other allies of the United States.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists not only made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States but to also embed themselves in the United States. Page 47 of this report noted

Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.

This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”

Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

The bottom line is that while so much attention has been paid to the issue of purportedly “Securing the border” (and focusing only on the US/Mexican Border while ignoring the other ways that aliens are able to gain entry into the United States) no one is paying any attention to the lack of integrity to the immigration benefits program.  
It took the United States just 44 months to win the Second World War.  Next month, September 2013, will mark the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001- more than four times as much time has elapsed since 9/11 as compared with how long it took to win World War II.  It is more than 20 years since the terrorist attacks of 1993 (at the CIA in January of that year and the first World Trade Center bombing a month later).  All of these attacks involved foreign nationals who easily gamed the visa process and/or the immigration benefits program yet these vulnerabilities are being all but ignored even as the United States government invokes the “War on Terror” to explain the erosion of expectations of privacy that continually makes headlines as new revelations about the NSA and other agencies emerge.
Immigration is not a single issue but a singular issue that impacts nearly every challenge and threat confronting the United States today!  Simply stated, the immigration laws were enacted to save lives and protect the jobs of American workers.

Our armed forces are charged with securing America’s borders externally while the DHS is supposed to secure those same borders from within.  The failures of the DHS to live up to its half of the equation are undermining the efforts, valor and incredible sacrifices of Americas men and women who serve in our military!

If our government’s failures to protect American jobs by securing our nation’s borders and effectively enforcing our immigration laws concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!


-michael cutler- 

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News Releases

August 22, 2013

Alexandria, VA

Man convicted of sending explosion-graded industrial parts to Iran

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former Centreville resident was convicted Tuesday for violating U.S. economic sanctions on Iran by sending explosion-graded industrial parts to a petrochemical company in Iran. The conviction follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. and the Department of Commerce’s Washington Office of Export Enforcement.

Mehdi Khorramshahgol, 50, conspired with others in Iran to purchase industrial goods from United States businesses for the Iranian petrochemical industry. The defendant falsely represented that the end users for his purchases were in Dubai. After the defendant purchased the goods and shipped them to Dubai, other co-conspirators repackaged the goods for onward shipment to Tehran. The conspiracy used a series of false invoices, false-end users and front companies to hide its illicit activity.

Khorramshahgol was indicted April 25 on four counts of violating and conspiring to violate the U.S. economic sanction on Iran, one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and one count of aiding and abetting a material false statement.

He faces a potential maximum penalty of 90 years imprisonment when he is sentenced Nov.1, though the anticipated sentencing guideline range is much lower.

You may also visit us on FacebookTwitter and YouTube, or access this news release on your mobile device.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For more information, visit www.ICE.gov. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423 or complete our tip form.



http://m.ice.gov/news/releases/1303/130308alexandria.htm?f=m

News Releases

March 8, 2013

Iranian national accused of illegally exporting goods for Iranian petro-chemical industry

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Rockville, Md., man has been accused of allegedly exporting tens of thousands of dollars of industrial parts manufactured by U.S. companies to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade sanctions. He was charged Thursday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C., and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement’s Washington Field Office.

Mehdi Khorramshahgol, 49, a U.S. citizen and Iranian national, was arrested on March 7 and charged via criminal complaint of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

According to the complaint, beginning in 2008, Khorramghahgol allegedly solicited price quotations regarding U.S. origin-industrial parts for individuals and businesses located in Iran. Khorramshahgol successfully purchased thousands of dollars of U.S.-origin parts. To avoid detection and to facilitate the shipment of goods from the United States to Iran, Khorramshahgol allegedly falsified shipping records by indicating the goods were of little value and that the end-user for the goods was located in the United Arab Emirates. Once the goods reached the UAE, the end-user information was changed and the goods were shipped onward to Iran.

Khorramshahgol and his co-conspirators allegedly created paperwork that falsely stated the materials would not be sold to Iran. The complaint alleges that Khorramshahgol was aware of the United States sanctions against Iran, as he forwarded a Department of Justice press release regarding the enforcement of the Iranian sanctions to other co-conspirators with an instruction to “read it all.”

During the course of the conspiracy, Khorramshahgol allegedly exported tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of industrial parts to Iran. These parts were primarily for use in Iran’s state-owned Petrochemical industry.

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