Arab Spring

'Worth killing over': How a plane mogul dodged US scrutiny

When a Kansas strip-mall bank with possible mob ties folded in the mid-1980s, federal authorities investigated whether a shareholder, Iranian-born aviation magnate Farhad Azima, should face criminal charges.

The probe hit a dead end. Azima, a U.S. citizen, essentially had a stay-out-of-jail-free card because of secretive work he had performed for the U.S. government, a former federal prosecutor involved in the case said. Azima, a gunrunner later tied to the CIA and the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration, was never prosecuted.

Over decades, Azima has glided among different worlds, flying weapons to the Balkans, selling spy gear to Persian Gulf nations, dealing...