Iraqi Citizen Sentenced to Prison for Scheme to Smuggle Firearms to Kurdish Militia in Northern Iraq
Dozens of Weapons Hidden in Door Panels of Cars Shipped through Turkey to Iraq
An Iraqi citizen who conspired to ship firearms to Kurdish militia members in Iraq, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to one year in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring to smuggle goods from the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. RAWND KHALEEL ALDALAWI, 30, was arrested January 24, 2018 in Bellevue, Washington. The investigation and arrest followed the discovery of some 47 firearms concealed in two vehicles being shipped through Turkey to Kurdistan, a part of northern Iraq. U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik imposed the sentence.
“This defendant sent weapons into a war zone where U.S. troops are stationed,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “We don’t know where those guns wound up – whether in the hands of those attacking innocents, U.S. troops, or other allies. This scheme increased the risks of violent attack for those living in an already dangerous part of the world – exactly what our arms export laws are enacted to protect.”
According to records filed in the case, between October 2016 and November 2017, ALDALAWI and co-defendant Paul Stuart Brunt, 52, of Bellevue, engaged in a scheme to smuggle firearms from the U.S. to people associated with the Peshmerga military in Kurdistan. Brunt purchased the firearms at gun stores and gun shows around the Puget Sound region. The men then attempted to ship the guns from the Port of Seattle through Turkey and on to Iraq, hidden in the side panels and trunk cavities of vehicles. In the first shipment in February 2017, some 30 guns were hidden in three cars. In the second shipment in November 2017, 47 firearms were concealed in two vehicles. That second shipment was discovered by authorities in Turkey, and the shipment was traced back to Brunt and ALDALAWI. The men had not obtained any export licenses for the firearms and smuggled them in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
Co-Defendant Brunt pleaded guilty in July 2018 and is scheduled for sentencing March 1, 2019.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods. The U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division is assisting with the prosecution.
Note: During the lapse in appropriations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington is required to curtail certain of its operations pursuant to applicable law and policy. Nevertheless, the office continues to fulfill its law enforcement responsibilities by prosecuting criminal cases. The office will continue to provide public information about certain significant cases including those impacting national security.