Walnut Man Sentenced to Nearly 4 Years in Prison For Smuggling ‘Instruments of Death’ to Syrian Rebels
A Walnut man received a sentence of nearly four years in federal prison Thursday for conspiring to smuggle tactical gear including night-vision rifle scopes and a bulletproof vest to Syrian rebels in violation of U.S. sanctions, authorities said.
Rasheed Al Jijakli, 57, was sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement.
“During today’s sentencing hearing, (U.S. District Judge James) Selna agreed with prosecutors that the goods Jijakli took to Syria were ‘instruments of death,'” Mrozek said.
Jijakli bought the tactical gear in June and July of 2012, prosecutors said.
“On July 17, 2012, Jijakli traveled with the tactical gear from Los Angeles to Istanbul with the intent that it would be provided to Syrian rebels training in Turkey and fighting in Syria,” Mrozek said.
Some of the equipment was turned over to a member of the militant group Ahrar-Sham, as well as other armed insurgent groups in both Syria and Turkey, federal officials said.
“Jijakli and his co-conspirators knowingly provided at least 43 laser boresighters, 85 day rifle scopes, 30 night-vision rifle scopes, tactical flashlights, a digital monocular, five radios and a bulletproof vest to Ahrar Al-Sham and other Syrian rebels in Syria, or with knowledge that the tactical gear was going to Syria,” according to Mrozek.
Jijakli, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, also admitted in his plea agreement to directing $17,000 withdrawn from Palmyra Corporation, where he served as CEO, for the purchase of the tactical equipment, officials said.