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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Oakland Residents Charged With Illegally Exporting Night Vision Rifle Scopes To The Sultanate Of Oman

The Husband and Wife Pair Hid the Rifle Scopes Inside a Shipping Container at the Port of Oakland

SAN FRANCISCO – Fares Abdo Al Eyani and Saba Mohsen Dhaifallah have been charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to ship export-controlled night vision rifle scopes from the United States to the Sultanate of Oman.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney for the Northern District of California David L. Anderson; Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers; Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett; and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King.

The criminal complaint was filed August 5 and unsealed earlier today.  According to the complaint, Al Eyani, 37, and Dhaifallah, 38, of Oakland, worked together to purchase numerous devices with night vision capabilities over the last half of 2019.  The defendants then allegedly attempted to send those items and firearms to the Sultanate of Oman in shipping containers departing from the Port of Oakland.  

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.  Under the AECA, the President is authorized, among other things, to identify items deemed critical to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and to designate such items as “defense articles.”  Further, the AECA authorizes the President to promulgate regulations for, and to require a license for the export of, items deemed defense 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).  The DDTC promulgated regulations, codified at 22 C.F.R. §§ 120-130, known as the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations, or ITAR.  Under the ITAR, a defense article includes any item on the United States Munitions List (USML).  In addition, under the ITAR, a person who desires to export from the United States an item appearing on the USML must first register with the DDTC and obtain a license for the shipment prior to the export.  

According to the complaint, Al Eyani and Dhaifallah were engaged in a scheme to export a set of night vision rifle scopes without a license.  The AECA and the ITAR prohibit export of the scopes without a license and registration with the DDTC.  The complaint describes how Al Eyani and Dhaifallah allegedly worked together to purchase the rifle scopes from a Bay Area gun store in August and September 2019 and then, in December 2019, attempted to export the rifle scopes by hiding them inside a shipping container at the Port of Oakland.  In addition, the complaint alleges the unlawful scheme was thwarted when law enforcement officers searched the container and seized the rifle scopes.  

Al Eyani and Dhaifallah were arrested yesterday at their residence in Oakland and made their initial appearance this morning in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson.  Magistrate Judge Hixson released Al Eyani and Dhaifallah on a $100,000 bond and with travel restrictions. Al Eyani and Dhaifallah’s next hearing has been scheduled for Friday, August 28, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Illman, for identification of counsel.

A complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Al Eyani and Dhaifallah both face a maximum sentence of twenty years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000.  In addition, the court may order the defendant to serve an additional period of supervised release and restitution, if appropriate.  However, any sentence following conviction 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 Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s office is prosecuting the case in consultation with the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division at 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 August 27, 2020