Report: Virginia Man Arrested for Trying to Ship Weapons to Lebanonإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.S. federal authorities have arrested a Virginia-based businessman for allegedly trying to ship dozens of weapons and high-tech devices to Lebanon, according to the U.S. network ABC News.
Sam Rafic Ghanem, owner of an international shipping company with offices in the Washington suburbs, was arrested Saturday after an FBI sting, ABC News said.
The intended recipient of the weapons is not clear, but at one point Ghanem claimed he was recently asked to obtain two guns for an unnamed member of the Lebanese government, according to court documents filed in the case.
Over the past few months, Ghanem and a former employee of his company, Washington Movers International, devised “a scheme to send weapons to Lebanon by hiding them inside automobile parts shipped by the company,” court documents allege.
The former employee, though, was working as “an undercover source for the FBI,” ABC News noted.
Last Saturday, the source picked up Ghanem from his Springfield, Virginia home and drove to Washington Movers International’s offices in Maryland, where Ghanem helped stuff 10 handguns, 10 semi-automatic rifles and 18 “optic devices” into doors and other parts of salvaged vehicles, an FBI agent alleged in charging documents.
The car parts were then loaded into a shipping container, but the weapons hidden inside were “fake,” according to the charging documents. Ghanem was subsequently arrested.
After he was handcuffed, Ghanem allegedly admitted to FBI agents that his intended shipment violated U.S. law, which prohibits the export of such weapons to Lebanon and other designated countries.
During a secretly recorded meeting at Ghanem’s home in October, Ghanem noted to his former employee that he recently “had been asked to obtain two 'pieces' (guns) for a Lebanese official,” but he didn’t follow through “because he would have had to put the weapons in his name, and that was too dangerous,” said the charging documents.
“Saturday’s arrest was apparently not the first time the FBI visited Ghanem. FBI agents questioned him two years ago after two guns were found hidden in a car shipped by his company,” ABC News said, quoting court documents.
Washington Movers International has offices in the U.S. state of Maryland; Doha, Qatar and Beirut. Ghanem, 43, started the company “from scratch,” according to a profile of Ghanem posted online.
Ghanem has been charged with one count of “attempted export of defense articles” in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. If convicted, he faces five years in prison and a fine of $50,000, the network said.
He made his initial appearance Monday before a federal judge in Maryland. A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.