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Press Release

Oakland Resident Sentenced To One Year In Prison For 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 –Fares Abdo Al Eyani was sentenced to twelve months and a day in prison for conspiring to export defense articles and attempting to export defense articles.  The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Charles R. Breyer, Senior United States District Judge.

“Enforcing the nation’s export laws is an important objective for my Office,” said United States Attorney Ismail Ramsey, “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. 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, CBP Office of Field Operations San Francisco, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office San Francisco, and the Department of Justice National Security Division,” said San Francisco Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tatum King.

“Export controls exist to protect the security of the United States and its people,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Tripp of the San Francisco Division. “Fares Abdo Al Eyani tried to move deadly weapons of war into a foreign country, and his actions had the potential to undermine U.S. foreign policy in a dangerously reckless manner. The FBI and our partners are committed to aggressive investigations that will keep U.S. citizens and interests safe both here and abroad.”

According to court documents, Al Eyani, 41, of Oakland, 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.  

Court documents establish 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 addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer ordered Al Eyani to serve three years of supervised release to begin after his prison term is completed.

In a separate sentencing, Al Eyani’s wife, Saba Mohsen Dhaifallah, 42 and also a resident of Oakland, was sentenced to three years of probation for 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 sentence was also imposed by Judge Breyer.

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 March 29, 2024