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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trial of Would-Be Arms Salesman Proceeds

NEWARK, New Jersey -- In their earliest meetings and telephone calls, the Pakistani-born FBI informer and the British clothing merchant talked about Ukrainian weapons, Osama bin Laden and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In a meeting in a Newark hotel on Jan. 17, 2002, the clothier, Hemant Lakhani, 69, praised bin Laden, saying he acted against "these idiots," an apparent reference to Americans.

Lakhani also told Haji, who was posing as a representative of a Somali terrorist organization, that he could obtain missiles and other weapons for the group from an arms-exporting company in Ukraine owned by the government.

Haji, whose real name is Muhammad Rehman, is now the federal government's key witness in Lakhani's trial in Federal District Court on charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and trying to sell arms without a license. He testified for two days last week, as the trial started, and is expected to return to the witness stand.

The federal government contends that the arrest of Lakhani in August 2003 broke up a terrorist plot to use missiles against U.S. jetliners. His lawyer, Henry Klingeman, said that his client bore no anti-American sentiments, was not a terrorist, and had never engaged in any illegal arms sales.

Rehman testified that he did not know Lakhani before the clothier called him in October 2001, telling Rehman he had various businesses, and mentioned that he could get weapons from Ukraine.

Rehman said he immediately contacted the FBI about Lakhani's offer.