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Press Release

Grand Jury Returns Indictment Charging Individual In Connection With Efforts To Purchase, Export 89 Sniper Rifles To Belarus

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah

            SALT LAKE CITY – A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City returned an indictment late Wednesday afternoon charging Kolar Rahman Anees Ur Rahman, age 44, who was born in India and lives in the United Arab Emirates, with violations of federal law in connection with alleged efforts to purchase 89 Sako .308 caliber sniper rifles and have them exported from the United States to Belarus.

            The charges in the four-count indictment include conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, a violation of the Arms Export Control Act, smuggling goods from the United States, and money laundering.  Rahman was arrested in early November in Chicago on a complaint filed in Utah.  Following a removal proceeding in Chicago, he is being transferred to Salt Lake City by the U.S. Marshals Service.  An initial appearance will be scheduled in Utah when he arrives.

            According to the indictment, the Arms Export Control Act authorizes the President of the United States to control the export of defense articles and defense services from the United States. Unless a specific exception applies, the Act provides that no defense articles or defense services may be exported without a license for such export. It is the policy of the United States to deny licenses and other approvals for the export of defense articles and defense services destined for Belarus, as well as other countries subject to an arms embargo.

            In November 2013, according to the indictment, a firearms manufacturer in Salt Lake City was contacted through email by someone identified as Individual A in the indictment regarding the purchase of 50 sniper rifles to be shipped to Belarus. The firearms manufacturer notified Individual A that the purchase and delivery would be impossible due to current trade sanctions and embargoes against Belarus.  The firearms manufacturer subsequently informed a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) about the suspicious inquiry.

            An HSI Salt Lake City undercover agent contacted Individual A by email. In those communications, Individual A reiterated his desire to procure sniper rifles in the United States for delivery to Belarus. From November 2013 through May 2015, negotiations between the undercover agent and Individual A did not result in a purchase. However, in May 2015, Individual A introduced the undercover agent to Rahman, designating Rahman as the principal broker for the procurement of the sniper rifles.

            The indictment alleges that from May 2015 until November 2015, the defendant engaged in a conspiracy to purchase 89 sniper rifles in the United States and have them exported to Belarus without first obtaining licenses as required.  In August 2015, Rahman and an undercover agent agreed that Rahman would make a first purchase of 10 sniper rifles and ammunition for approximately $66,285. No party to the transaction obtained export licenses for the rifles.

            In September, according to the indictment, Rahman informed the undercover agent that the final contract with Belarus had been completed and sent the undercover agent a down payment of approximately $13,257 for 10 sniper rifles. Rahman agreed to pay the remaining balance once the rifles arrived in Belarus.  He told the undercover agent not to include U.S. invoices with the shipment. Rahman requested that the sniper rifles be shipped by the most direct route possible to Belarus. According to the indictment, the undercover agent informed Rahman that the shipment route would be from the United States to South Africa, to Turkey and then to Belarus. 

            On Nov. 4, 2015, two undercover HSI agents met with an individual who identified himself as Kolar Rahman Anees Ur Rahman at a hotel near Chicago, according to the indictment.  Rahman confirmed he was the same individual the agents had been negotiating with since May.  Rahman, the indictment alleges, informed the agents that he understood the risk of illegally obtaining and shipping the sniper rifles to Belarus and that he desired to complete their business transaction as planned. Rahman and the agents discussed future purchases and shipments of the .308 caliber rifles to Belarus.   Rahman was arrested by the agents in Chicago later that day.   

            The potential maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States is up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. A violation of the Arms Export Control Act is 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.  Smuggling goods from the United States has a potential penalty of 10 years in prison with a fine of $250,000.  The money laundering count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000.

            Indictments are not findings of guilt.  Individuals charged in an indictment are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.

Updated February 4, 2016