A 50-year-old former resident of Irvine pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to export U.S. tactical equipment to Syria to arm insurgent groups seeking to replace the Assad government with an Islamic state.
Amin al-Baroudi, who now calls himself Abu al-Jud, was born in Syria but became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 9, 2015, when the government accused him and others of purchasing tens of thousands of dollars of goods from companies and vendors in the United States, consisting largely of tactical equipment such as sniper rifle scopes, night vision rifle scopes, night vision goggles, laser bore sighters, speed loaders and bullet proof vests.
Baroudi and his co-conspirators started the purchases in 2011 and multiple times in 2013 took goods via commercial airlines to Turkey and then on to Syria, where the main recipient was Ahrar al-Sham, according to the U.S. Attorney. That group frequently fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusrah, which has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization and operates as al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
The government had Baroudi tried in Virginia, where his guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Baroudi faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison at a scheduled May 6 hearing.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.