Men prosecuted for smuggling guns to Iraqi military

On Jan. 24, two men were arrested in Seattle on criminal complaints, on grounds of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act to Turkey and Iraq. 51-year-old Paul Stuart Brunt and his partner Rawnd Khaleel Aldalawi, 29, were found to have been engaged in a plot to smuggle arms to the Peshmerga military in Kurdistan, Iraq. The two men had reportedly been traveling around the Puget Sound area as early as October 2016, going to gun shows and gun stores purchasing weaponry that they packed in the side panels of vehicles being transported to Turkey, which would then be sent to Iraq.
According to official records on the case, the first shipment that the duo sent was in February 2017, with approximately 30 firearms being smuggled successfully in three cars. The second shipment was sent in November of 2017 with approximately 47 firearms concealed in two vehicles, however Turkish customs found the weapons and traced the shipment back to Brunt and Aldalawi.
After further investigation, prosecutors uncovered that Brunt and Aldalawi did not possess a firearms export license, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine with an additional 20 year sentence for breaking the Arms Export Control Act.
King 5 News reported, “Investigators say the men admitted their actions in interviews and that Aldalawi said he was supporting the Peshmerga military in northern Iraq because the Iraqi government did not help defend the region from the Islamic State group.”
Homeland Security found records of weapons purchases by Brunt with as many as 47 handguns in eight separate purchases being made in the Spring and Summer of 2017 from gun shops in Washington ranging from Renton to Shelton, Mason County.
The Chicago Tribune reported, “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.” Brunt also claimed that he was given $120,000 for purchases included in smuggling the weapons into Turkey, among which were a late-model Dodge Challenger, a 2016 Ford Mustang and a Chrysler.
“The complaint indicates a third, unidentified individual with Aldalawi was involved, but that man was not identified.” Aldalawi is reported as having told agents that he has family in the Pershmerga Army and that the reason he is attempting to assist them is the neglect that they have seen from the Iraqi government.
At this stage of the case, all charges are still allegations towards Brunt and Aldalawi. The case is currently being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods with the U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division assisting in the prosecution. Additionally, the case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations.
On Jan. 31, U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayesthe announced that the suspects were indicted by a Seattle federal grand jury on three federal felonies linked to their alleged actions against the Arms Export Control Act.