Under Arrest

California CEO Allegedly Smuggled Rifle Scopes to Syria

Rasheed Al Jijakli, arrested Tuesday after allegedly hand-carrying tactical equipment from Istanbul to Syria in violation of sanctions on Syria, faces up to 50 years in prison.

The Department of Justice arrested a California man on Tuesday for allegedly supplying rifle scopes and tactical equipment to rebel fighters in Syria.  

Rasheed Al Jijakli, the CEO of a check-cashing business who lives in Walnut, allegedly hand-carried tactical equipment through Istanbul to Syria. A federal grand jury indicted him on July 14 on three counts of conspiring to violate sanctions on Syria under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and for smuggling export-controlled items.

Jijakli, 56, along with three co-conspirators, allegedly transported day and night vision rifle scopes, laser boresighters used to adjust sights on firearms for accuracy when firing, flashlights, radios, a bulletproof vest, and other tactical equipment to Syrian fighters. The items were illegally exported from January 2012 to March 2013, according to the Department of Justice.

The indictment alleges that Jijakli told co-conspirators about “a technique he used to smuggle goods into Turkey without being detected by law enforcement” and on a separate occasion warned them to be careful because exporting the items is prohibited. In another instance, Jijakli allegedly told co-conspirators “that he had just returned from Syria, that he had delivered the items he brought to individuals in Syria, and that the trip into Syria was ‘not too much fun’ because he was unable to ‘join with (sic) some action.’”

The names of alleged co-conspirators, U.S. and Canadian citizens who are Syrian-born and Kuwaiti-born, are being withheld by the Department of Justice.

The items were allegedly acquired inside the United States. Five companies, including those headquartered in California, Arizona, Arkansas, and Washington, are referenced in the indictment as facilitating the sale of the goods.    

Syria is sanctioned under the IEEPA, by which the president is authorized to impose economic sanctions on foreign nations in response to an unusual or extraordinary threat to the United States. Items subject to the Export Administration Regulations to Syria are also restricted under Department of Commerce regulations.

If Jijakli is found guilty, he could face 50 years in prison. Jijakli’s case is being prosecuted by counterintelligence and Terrorism and Export Crimes Section attorneys. An FBI investigation, in coordination with other agencies, is ongoing.