What makes this case different from hundreds of other such smuggling cases is that some of those radio antennas have been found in bombs inside Iraq.
The charges thus directly link the Islamic Republic with bombings in Iraq.
The antennas went into what are called Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The US military says IEDs have caused about 60 percent of all American combat deaths and injuries in Iraq.
Those who wish to see the United States attack the Islamic Republic can be expected to press the case that the supply of such weapons to Iraqi militias is an act of war against the United States. The United States has accused Iran of supplying IEDs for years, but these radio antennas are the first concrete evidence linking Iran.
The indictment was filed 13 months ago in September 2010 but just unsealed Tuesday. One Iranian, Hossain Larijani, and four Singaporean citizens along with their companies were indicted. The four Singaporeans were arrested Monday by Singapore police and the United States will file for their extradition. Larijani is presumed to be in Iran.
Between June 2007 and February 2008, the Singaporeans bought 6,000 “radio frequency modules” from an unnamed company in Minnesota, filing paperwork saying that Singapore was the ultimate destination. They then shipped the modules on to Larijani in Iran.
In May 2008, the United States first picked up an unexploded IED and discovered the Minnesota module inside. Over the next two years, 15 more unexploded IEDs were unearthed with the Minnesota modules.
The indictment says US investigators eventually monitored telephone conversations between one of the Singaporeans and Larijani in which the Singa-porean made clear that he knew the sale he was arranging violated US law.
It isn’t known why the United States waited 13 months to unseal the indictment. It is possible officials were trying to lure Larijani out of Iran but had no luck.
The modules can send or receive a signal from as far away as 40 miles, thus allowing someone to remotely trigger the IED from that distance.