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Press Release

California Man Sentenced for Attempting to Illegally Export Firearms and Night Vision Rifle Scopes to The Sultanate of Oman

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Man Disassembled and Wrapped Firearms in Aluminum Foil Before Hiding Them Inside a Shipping Container at the Port of Oakland

Fares Abdo Al Eyani, 41, of Oakland, California, was sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to export defense articles and attempting to export defense articles.

“Mr. Al Eyani admitted to conspiring to smuggle restricted arms, ammunition, and other defense material to a foreign country and has now been held to account,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The unlawful trafficking of U.S. weapons overseas represents a threat to public safety and national security and will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.”

“Enforcing the nation’s export laws is an important objective for my office,” said U.S Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey for the Northern District of California, “Because controlling our ports prevents the proliferation of weapons, protects our national security, furthers our foreign policy, and maintains our business competitiveness.”

“The illicit export of weapons overseas will not be tolerated by the FBI and anyone attempting to do so will be held accountable,” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “Our office, along with our federal law enforcement partners, are committed to protecting our U.S. technology and citizens from anyone who tries to evade our laws and threaten our national security.”

“The sentencing of El Anayi for attempting to illegally export firearms and night vision rifle scopes to The Sultanate of Oman underscores the serious ramifications for international arms trafficking,” said Special Agent in Charge Tatum King of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco. “Such actions not only pose significant risks to national security but also contribute to destabilizing regions and potentially fueling conflicts. It's crucial for law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant and prosecute individuals involved in such activities to prevent the illicit proliferation of weapons and technology. This case highlights the importance of international cooperation in combating arms trafficking and enforcing export control regulations. Justice has been served with the hard work and dedication of HSI, and partner organizations FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations San Francisco, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and the Justice Department’s National Security Division.”

According to court documents, Al Eyani acquired no less than four firearms with magazines and ammunition, and at least 44 rifle scopes, monoculars, and goggles with night vision capabilities in 2019. In November 2019, Al Eyani attempted to send the firearms to the Sultanate of Oman in shipping containers departing from the Port of Oakland. He concealed the firearms by disassembling them, wrapping them in aluminum foil, and then secreting them within automobiles inside the shipping container. Then, in December 2019, Al Eyani attempted to export the 44 rifle scopes, monoculars, and goggles to the Sultanate of Oman in two shipping containers departing from the Port of Oakland. Law enforcement searched the containers and seized the firearms, magazines, and ammunition, as well as the 44 rifle scopes, monoculars, and goggles with night vision capabilities, thereby thwarting Al Eyani’s unlawful scheme.

The commercial export of arms, ammunitions, implements of war and defense articles and services from the United States is governed by the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and its attendant regulations, the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The AECA authorizes the President, among other things, to control the export of “defense articles” deemed critical to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. The AECA also authorizes the President to designate goods as “defense articles,” require licenses for the export of such articles, and promulgate regulations for the export of such articles. By executive order, the President has delegated this authority to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). Accordingly, the DDTC has promulgated regulations under the AECA, known as the ITAR. The ITAR defines a “defense article” as any item on the United States Munitions List (USML). Persons desiring to export items on the USML from the United States to a place overseas must first register with the DDTC and obtain individual export licenses prior to any shipment abroad. 

Court documents establish that the items Al Eyani attempted to export — four firearms, magazines, ammunition, and night-vision rifle scopes — were defense articles prohibited from export without a license by the AECA and the ITAR. Al Eyani did not have a license to export the defense articles.

In a separate sentencing, Al Eyani’s wife, Saba Mohsen Dhaifallah, 42, also of Oakland, was sentenced to three years of probation for making false statements to FBI special agents during the investigation of this matter.

The FBI, HSI, and CBP investigated the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California’s National Security and Cybercrime Section is prosecuting the case in consultation with the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Updated March 29, 2024

National Security
Press Release Number: 24-376