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Press Release

Oakland Resident Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Illegally Export Firearms And Night Vision Rifle Scopes To The Sultanate Of Oman

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Man Disassembled and Wrapped Firearms in Aluminum Foil before Hiding Them Inside a Shipping Container at the Port of Oakland

SAN FRANCISCO – Oakland resident Fares Abdo Al Eyani, 40, pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to one count of conspiring to export defense articles and seven counts of attempting to export defense articles, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice National Security Division Matthew G. Olsen, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp, and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. The plea was accepted by the Hon. Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge.

According to the plea agreement, Al Eyani admitted he 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, the magazines, and the ammunition, as well as the 44 rifle scopes, monoculars, and goggles with night vision capabilities. These actions thwarted 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”), 22 U.S.C. § 2778, and its attendant regulations, the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”), 22 C.F.R. §§ 120-130. 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 United States 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.

The plea agreement lays out that the four firearms, the magazines, and the ammunition, as well as at least seven of the 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 plea agreement, Al Eyani’s wife, Saba Mohsen Dhaifallah, 41, also pleaded guilty to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation special agents during the investigation of this matter, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Her plea also was accepted by Judge Breyer.

Judge Breyer scheduled Al Eyani’s and Dhailfallah’s sentencing hearings for March 22, 2024, at 9:30 am. Al Eyani faces a maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000. Dhaifallah faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. In addition, the court may order each defendant to serve an additional period of supervised release, if appropriate. However, any sentence would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

The National Security and Cybercrime Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California is prosecuting the case in consultation with the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and United States Customs and Border Protection.

Updated December 15, 2023