Saudi Nationals Accused of Smuggling $100,000 in Weapons Parts From US While on Student Visas - NBC Southern California

Saudi Nationals Accused of Smuggling $100,000 in Weapons Parts From US While on Student Visas

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    Saudi Nationals Accused of Smuggling $100,000 in Weapons Parts From US While on Student Visas
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    Three Saudi nationals have been charged in two separate indictments for allegedly violating federal export laws by purchasing more than $100,000 in weapons parts in the United States while on student visas and then smuggling the parts to Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    A five-count indictment returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Riverside charges Hatim Humeed Alsufyani, 36, and Mosab Alzahrani, 27, both formerly of San Bernardino, with one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods out of the United States without obtaining export licenses. Alsufyani also was charged with three counts of knowingly exporting weapons parts without a license, while Alzahrani also was charged with one count of knowingly exporting weapons parts without a license.

    Between May 2014 and July 2018, Alsufyani and Alzahrani allegedly conspired to smuggle firearms parts from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia by concealing rifle barrels, rifle triggers and other items related to firearms in their checked luggage on flights from Los Angeles to Saudi Arabia. They allegedly also would falsely identify rifle barrels, rifle triggers, and other items related to firearms as "shower curtain rods" or "car parts" before exporting the items to Saudi Arabia.

    For example, on Dec. 10, 2016, Alzahrani attempted to board a flight from Los Angeles to Riyadh with 30 firearms parts concealed in his checked luggage, including 12 rear sight leaf assemblies and six New England Custom Gun single set rifle triggers, the indictment alleges. Alzahrani also lied to U.S. customs officials about possessing rifle barrels in the United States that were intended to be exported to Saudi Arabia, according to the indictment.

    If convicted of all charges, Alsufyani would face a statutory maximum sentence of 65 years in federal prison, and Alzahrani would face 25 years in federal prison.

    In a separate indictment returned on Nov. 1 and unsealed Thursday, Abdulwahab Mohammed A. Alabdulwahab, 30, formerly of Los Angeles, was charged with 15 counts of smuggling and 15 counts of knowingly exporting firearms parts from the United States without first having obtained an export license from the State Department.

    Between December 2015 and January 2018, Alabdulwahab contacted U.S.- based firearms parts retailers to purchase firearms parts for the purpose of illegally exporting those components to Saudi Arabia, the indictment alleges. Specifically, Alabdulwahab purchased .223-caliber and .308-caliber rifle barrels, which by federal law require a license to be exported from the United States to any other country, according to the indictment. At no time did Alabdulwahab apply for, receive or possess such a license, the indictment alleges.

    If convicted of all charges, Alabdulwahab would face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for each smuggling count, and 20 years' imprisonment for each violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

    All three defendants are believed to be in Saudi Arabia.

    The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations investigated both cases, with support from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    The Alsufyani case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Reema El-Amamy of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. The Alabdulwahab case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Grigg, Chief of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. Supporting both cases is Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the Justice Department's National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

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