California Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Violate U.S. Sanctions Against Syria
Amin al-Baroudi, 50, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen formerly of Irvine, California, pleaded guilty today to charges of conspiring to export U.S.-origin goods from the United States to Syria in violation of sanctions imposed on Syria by the U.S. government. The guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.
The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division and Director Douglas Hassebrock of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement.
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Baroudi admitted that from at least December 2011 through March 2013, he and his co-conspirators exported U.S. tactical equipment to Syria for the purpose of supplying and arming Ahrar al-Sham and other insurgent groups in Syria whose stated goal is to overthrow the Assad government and install an Islamic state. Ahrar al-Sham frequently fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusrah, which has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization and operates as al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
According to court documents, Baroudi and his co-conspirators purchased tens of thousands of dollars of goods from companies and vendors in the United States, consisting largely of tactical equipment such as sniper rifle scopes, night vision rifle scopes, night vision goggles, laser bore sighters, speed loaders and bullet proof vests. Baroudi and his co-conspirators traveled with the goods aboard commercial flights to Turkey and then transported the goods into Syria or provided them to others for transport. Baroudi made two such trips in February and March of 2013.
Baroudi was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 9, 2015. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison when sentenced on May 6, 2016. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, FBI’s Los Angeles Division and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; California Highway Patrol; the Irvine, California, Police Department; the Orange County, California, Sheriff’s Department; and the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Orange County provided significant assistance.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia K. Martinez of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Christian Ford and Robert Wallace of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.