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Orange County business owner accused of exporting weapons to Syrian rebels in violation of U.S. sanctions

The chief executive of a check cashing business in Orange County was arrested Tuesday on charges that he violated U.S. sanctions and exported rifle scopes and other tactical equipment to Syrian rebels, federal prosecutors announced.

Rasheed Al Jijakli, 56, a Walnut resident born in Syria, was indicted on three counts of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and smuggling.

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According to the indictment, unsealed after Jijakli's arrest, he, two other Americans and a Canadian are suspected of working with people in Syria to smuggle in dozens of night vision scopes, laser boresights, bulletproof vests, tactical flashlights and other equipment between January 2012 and February 2013.

Jijakli and his accomplices would fly to Turkey and then cross over into Syria on foot with the items, the indictment stated. The group allegedly used money from Jijakli's business, Orange Check Cashing, to purchase the equipment from businesses based in California, Arizona and Arkansas.

If convicted, Jijakli faces up to 50 years in prison.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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