Federal prosecutors claim the weapons were intended to be sent to Iraq, purportedly to help arm Kurdish rebels fighting the Islamic State group.
Two Seattle-area men have been arrested by federal agents for allegedly conspiring to violate the U.S. Arms Export Control Act after officials in Turkey found handguns hidden in vehicles shipped from Seattle and apparently intended for Kurdish rebels fighting in Iraq.
Paul Stuart Brunt, of Bellevue, and Rawnd Khaleel Aldalawi, of Seattle, are suspected of purchasing three vehicles that they used to smuggle dozens of semiautomatic handguns to Turkey. A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges the weapons were intended to be sent on to Iraq, purportedly to help arm rebels fighting the Islamic State group.
The conspiracy was discovered in November when Turkish authorities found guns hidden behind a door panel in two vehicles shipped by Brunt from Seattle to Mersin, Turkey. One of the guns, a .45-caliber handgun, was traced to a purchase by Brunt at a Monroe gun show April 14, according to the complaint.
The Department of Homeland Security alleges that Brunt bought as many as 47 handguns in eight separate purchases in the spring and summer of 2017 at Washington gun shops from Renton to Shelton, Mason County.
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The complaint alleges that Brunt told agents he was approached by Aldalawi in late 2016 and was offered $5,000 if he would help purchase cars intended to be sent to Iraq and smuggle firearms in them. The complaint indicates a third, unidentified individual with Aldalawi was involved, but that man was not identified.
The men allegedly sent more than 30 firearms divided among three cars in February 2017. The second shipment, which led to the arrests, involved about 47 guns, according to the complaint.
Brunt claims he was given $120,000 for the purchases, which included a late-model Dodge Challenger, a 2016 Ford Mustang and a Chrysler, the complaint alleges.
Aldalawi told the agents that “he has family who is part of the Peshmerga military in Kurdistan,” and said smuggling the guns was an attempt to get around Iraqi restrictions against arming the Kurds, the complaint says. Aldalawi reportedly told the agents that Iraq “did nothing” when the Islamic State group came to Peshmerga and that he was trying to help.
Both men appeared on Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohoe, who set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 7. Brunt was released on bond. Aldalawi was remanded to custody after the government argued he was a flight risk.