Arif Durrani

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Arif Ali Durrani (born c. 1949 in Pakistan) is a Pakistani businessman who has twice been convicted by US courts of selling arms to Iran.


Durrani was the son of a Pakistani Army officer with responsibility for military procurement. Durrani moved to the United States in 1973, settling in California.[1] He gained an MBA from the University of Southern California.[2]


In February 1984 Durrani formed a company, Merex Corp, which traded in parts for military and commercial aircraft, and by his own account reached sales of $16m in 1986.[1][2] He was arrested in October 1986 and subsequently convicted of trading Hawk missile parts to Iran, in what Durrani maintained were actions authorised by leading US government figures (specifically, Oliver North) as part of the Iran-Contra affair with the specific aim of his shipment leading to the freeing of US hostages held in Lebanon.[1][3][4] In denying Durrani bail, the judge described him as "enjoy[ing] an exorbitant lifestyle replete with material luxuries and one which causes him to travel the globe to meet with his business associates."[2] Durrani was sentenced to 10 years (and a $2m fine), and released after five years, in September 1992.[1][5] Durrani said that many of his deals were financed via Bank of Credit and Commerce International.[6] Durrani continued to protest his innocence after his release, arguing that he was working on transactions approved by the US and Israeli governments.[7]

In 1992 Durrani testified to the House October Surprise Task Force.[8]

In 2006 Durrani was again convicted of selling arms to Iran,[9] and sentenced to more than 12 years in prison.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d Los Angeles Times, 3 October 1998, Inquiry Aims at Convicted Arms Dealer
  2. ^ a b c Associated Press, 12 December 1986, Documents Reveal Arms Dealer Lived The Good Life
  3. ^ New York Times, 4 December 1987, Court Rejects Appeal of Pakistani Who Cited North in Arms Deals
  4. ^ Associated Press, 5 February 1987, Pakistani Arms Dealer Claims He Worked To Free Hostages
  5. ^ Lyn Bixby, Hartford Courant, 28 October 1992, Life In The Fast Lane, Then Slow Years In Jail
  6. ^ TIME, 24 June 2001, Scandals: Not Just a Bank
  7. ^ Alan A. Block, "The Origins of IRAN-CONTRA: Lessons from the Durrani Affair", p2; in Frank Bovenkerk and Michael Levi (eds, 2007), The Organized Crime Community: Essays in Honor of Alan A. Block, Springer
  8. ^ Joint report of the Task Force to Investigate Certain Allegations Concerning the Holding of American Hostages by Iran in 1980 ("October Surprise Task Force"), US GPO, 1993, p96
  9. ^ U-T San Diego, 18 March 2006, Arms dealer guilty of illegally exporting military hardware
  10. ^ Associated Press,, 18 July 2006, Retired Officer Sentenced in Arms Deal

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