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California CEO Arrested For Smuggling Military Equipment To Syria

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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The FBI arrested a California CEO Tuesday for smuggling rifle scopes and other tactical equipment to Syria, despite American sanctions on trading with the country.

Rasheed Al Jijakli, 56, was the CEO of a check cashing business, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement. He allegedly avoided U.S. sanctions on Syria by carrying contraband such as rifle scopes, laser sights, bulletproof vests, and other military equipment through Istanbul, Turkey and giving them to combatants in Syria. Jijakli is charged with smuggling and both violating and conspiring to violate trade sanctions. If convicted, he faces up to 50 years in prison.

Jijakli is the most recent of several DOJ arrests or convictions against Americans providing material support to militant groups in the Middle East. In July, Yahya Farooq Mohammad, a citizen of India who married a U.S. citizen in 2008, pled guilty to traveling to Yemen to provide thousands of dollars, equipment, and other assistance to notorious now-deceased terrorist recruiter Anwar Al-Awlaki. His plea deal stated that he will be sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Mohammad also pled guilty to attempting to hire a “hitman,” who was actually an undercover FBI agent, to kidnap and murder U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary, who presided over his case in 2016. He offered to pay up to $15,000 to have the judge “taken care of.”

Justin Nojan Sullivan, 21, was sentenced to life in prison in June for attempting to start an ISIS branch in the U.S and trying to carry out terror attacks in North Carolina and Virginia.

The DOJ said Jijakli’s case is a result of investigations conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

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