A United Kingdom citizen was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to procure a high-powered microwave system and counter-drone system from the United States to Iran, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said Saber Fakih, 48, conspired with Bader Fakih, 43, of Canada, Altaf Faquih, 72, of the United Arab Emirates, and Alireza Taghavi, 48, of Iran, to export and attempt to export an industrial microwave system (IMS) and counter-drone system to Iran.

“The potential military uses of the IMS could include high-power microwave-based directed-energy weapon systems. The counter-drone system, which has both commercial and military uses, can be used to stop, identify, redirect, land or take total control of a target unmanned aerial vehicle,” the attorney’s office said.

Graves argued that Saber Fakih posed a significant risk to national security when he conspired to procure the systems to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization. Graves also said his actions violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Iranian Transactions and Sanctions regulations.

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Iranian flag

Saber Fakih, 48, conspired to export and attempt to export an industrial microwave system and counter-drone system to Iran, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. (Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

After serving his prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ordered Saber Fakih to serve three years of supervised release.

During the government’s investigation, it found Saber Fakih and his co-conspirators attempted to export the systems to Iran in 2017 and 2018. In a plea agreement. Saber Fakih admitted he was the primary liaison between the Iranian purchaser and the U.S.-based seller of the IMS.

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Saber Fakih also said he was instrumental in placing a bid with the Massachusetts vendor, overseeing an inspection of the machine, and corresponding with the vendor on Taghavi’s behalf. He also admitted to fully knowing it was ultimately destined for Iran, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

UK flag, Parliamentary house in London

Saber Fakih was initially arrested in the United Kingdom on an extradition request in February 2021. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

In connection with the same scheme, the U.S. separately charged a co-conspirator, Iranian national Jalal Rohollahnejad, 46, with smuggling, wire fraud and related offenses.

Rohollahnejad facilitated the sending of approximately $450,000 from Iran to the UAE, where Faquih was to then convert the sum into U.S. dollars. Faquih then wire transferred the money to Bader Fakih in Canada. Bader Fakih then transferred the money to the U.S.

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Saber Fakih and Bader Fakih also conspired to purchase two counter-drone systems worth nearly $1 million from a Maryland-based company on behalf of Taghavi.

Judge's gavel

In addition to serving the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ordered Saber Fakih to serve three years of supervised release. (iStock)

The U.S. issued an extradition request and Saber Fakih was arrested in the United Kingdom in February 2021.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, HSI’s Baltimore Field Office, and the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterespionage and Export Control Section.

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