Rasheed Al Jijakli, 56, the chief executive officer of an Orange County, California check cashing business, was arrested this morning on federal charges that accuse him of procuring and illegally exporting rifle scopes, laser boresighters and other tactical equipment from the U.S. to Syria. The indictment was unsealed this morning after Jijakli was taken into custody without incident by law enforcement authorities.
The indictment accuses Jijakli, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of violating IEEPA, which authorizes the President of the U.S. to impose economic sanctions on a foreign country in response to an unusual or extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the U.S. In accordance with that authority, the President issued an executive order that included broad restrictions on exports to Syria. The U.S. Department of Commerce subsequently issued corresponding regulations restricting exports to Syria of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations. Jijakli also faces charges of conspiring to violate IEEPA and smuggling.
From January 2012 through March 2013, Jijakli and three other individuals purchased and smuggled export-controlled items to Syria without obtaining licenses from the Department of Commerce. Jijakli and others allegedly hand-carried the items through Istanbul, Turkey and provided them to fighters in Syria. Those items allegedly included day-and night-vision rifle scopes, laser boresighters (tools used to adjust sights on firearms for accuracy when firing), flashlights, radios, a bulletproof vest and other tactical equipment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. If convicted of all three charges in the indictment, Jijakli would face a statutory maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.