Canadian National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Launder Money from Scheme to Send UAV and Missile Components to Russia in Violation of U.S. Sanctions
Rasheed Al Jijakli, 56, the chief executive officer of an Orange County, California check cashing business, was arrested this morning on federal charges that accuse him of procuring and illegally exporting rifle scopes, laser boresighters and other tactical equipment from the U.S. to Syria, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Jijakli is expected to be arraigned this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, on a three-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on July 14. The indictment was unsealed this morning after Jijakli was taken into custody without incident by law enforcement authorities.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California made the announcement.
The indictment accuses Jijakli, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of violating IEEPA, which authorizes the President of the U.S. to impose economic sanctions on a foreign country in response to an unusual or extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the U.S. In accordance with that authority, the President issued an executive order that included broad restrictions on exports to Syria. The U.S. Department of Commerce subsequently issued corresponding regulations restricting exports to Syria of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations. Jijakli also faces charges of conspiring to violate IEEPA and smuggling.
From January 2012 through March 2013, Jijakli and three other individuals purchased and smuggled export-controlled items to Syria without obtaining licenses from the Department of Commerce. Jijakli and others allegedly hand-carried the items through Istanbul, Turkey and provided them to fighters in Syria. Those items allegedly included day-and night-vision rifle scopes, laser boresighters (tools used to adjust sights on firearms for accuracy when firing), flashlights, radios, a bulletproof vest and other tactical equipment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. If convicted of all three charges in the indictment, Jijakli would face a statutory maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after considering the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement and IRS Criminal Investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Takla of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the Central District of California, and Trial Attorney Christian Ford of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.