BEIRUT: Federal authorities have arrested a U.S. man for allegedly trying to ship dozens of weapons and high-tech devices to Lebanon, ABC news reported this week.
Sam Rafic Ghanem, 43, owner of Washington Movers International, an international shipping company, was arrested Saturday after he allegedly devised a plan to send weapons to Lebanon by hiding them inside automobile parts shipped by the company, ABC said quoting court documents.
Ghanem was said to be working on the scheme with a former employee of his company who was also an undercover source for the FBI.
On the day of his arrest, the FBI source picked up Ghanem from his Springfield, Va., home and drove to the company 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 documents also noted that the car parts were then loaded into a shipping container but that the weapons were fake. Ghanem was subsequently arrested.
During a secretly recorded meeting at Ghanem’s home in October, the man told 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,” ABC said quoting the charging documents.
FBI agents questioned him two years ago after two guns were found hidden in a car shipped by his company, according to court documents.
“We are now recognized as one of the leading logistics firms in the United States,” the company’s website says, promising: “From the simplest household move to the largest of international business relocations, you will appreciate our extraordinary professionalism, expertise, our friendly and helpful service.”
Ghanem is Druze and served on the board of the Washington-area chapter of the American Druze Community, ABC reported.
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.
He made his initial appearance Monday before a federal judge in Greenbelt, Md.
Public records available Tuesday did not indicate whether Ghanem has entered a plea. A detention hearing, however, is scheduled for Thursday.