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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Friday, January 15, 2016

California Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Violate U.S. Sanctions Against Syria

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – 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.

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 in Syria.  Ahrar al-Sham frequently fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusrah, which has been designated by the United States 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 penalty 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.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; David Bowdich, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Douglas Hassebrock, Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia K. Martinez is prosecuting the case.  The FBI’s Washington and Los Angeles Field Offices and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement are investigating the case.  The DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations, California Highway Patrol, the Irvine Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Orange County, California, have provided significant assistance. 

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-102.

Updated February 4, 2016