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August 14, 2018Los Angeles, CA, United StatesCounter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Los Angeles-area man pleads guilty in scheme to violate US sanctions against Syria

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Walnut man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of conspiring to export U.S.-origin tactical gear to Syria, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Syria Sanctions.

Rasheed Al Jijakli, 57, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, and IRS Criminal Investigation.

In a plea agreement filed in this case, Jijakli admitted that, from April 2012 through March 2013, he conspired with other individuals to export tactical gear, including U.S.-origin laser boresighters, day- and night-vision rifle scopes, and other items from the United States to Syria.

Jijakli and one of the co-conspirators purchased the tactical gear, and on July 17, 2012, he traveled with the tactical gear from Los Angeles to Istanbul, Turkey with the intent that it would be provided to Syrian rebels training in Turkey and fighting in Syria. Jijakli provided some of the equipment, specifically the laser boresighters, to a second co-conspirator, who Jijakli learned was a member of Ahrar Al-Sham. He also provided the goods to other armed Syrian insurgent groups in Syria and Turkey.

In total, Jijakli and his co-conspirators provided at least 43 laser boresighters, 85 day rifle scopes, 30 night-vision rifle scopes, tactical flashlights, a digital monocular, five radios, and a bulletproof vest to Ahrar Al-Sham and other Syrian rebels in Syria, or with knowledge that the tactical gear was going to Syria.

Further, in August and September 2012, Jijakli directed co-conspirators to withdraw thousands of dollars from Palmyra Corporation, a check-cashing services company where he was the chief executive officer, to pay for tactical gear for Syrian rebels.

Judge Selna is scheduled to sentence Jijakli on December 4, at which time he will face a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Takla of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and DOJ Trial Attorney Christian Ford of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Updated: 10/16/2018