SANTA ANA >> An Orange County businessman accused of illegally exporting rifle scopes and other tactical equipment to Syria was arrested Tuesday and charged with smuggling and violating international sanctions.
A federal grand jury, in an indictment unsealed Tuesday, alleges that Rasheed Al Jijakli, 56, of Walnut took tactical equipment to fighters in Syria.
According to the indictment, Jijakli is a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen who serves as the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, vice president, secretary and treasurer of Palmyra Corporation, a check-cashing business in Orange County.
Among the items prosecutors allege that Jijakli provided to Syrian fighters are rifle scopes, laser bore sighters used to adjust sights on firearms, radios and bulletproof vests.
The indictment does not specify to which faction in the Syrian civil war the fighters Jijakli is accused of dealing with are aligned.
On Tuesday in court, the defendant pleaded not guilty, appearing at ease when chatting with his court-appointed attorney and looking over the indictment. He nodded along as the judge explained his rights.
Jijakli was to be released on bond, required to be on electronic monitoring pending the trial. About a dozen family members attended the hearing, declining comment.
According to the Department of Justice, exporting the equipment would be a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, under which the government prohibits “certain transactions with Syria by United States persons or involving U.S.-origin goods.”
An executive order in 2004 prohibits the exportation of any U.S. product to Syria…
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