Yasir Yassin is accused of concealing and concealing that his company was shipping weapons and ammunition in a shipment from Iran, under the veil of fuel.
Yassin runs Yassma Trading, which is accused of shipping 200 mortar shells to Syria. According to the indictment of the alleged crime, Yassin was caught with more than 1,000 parts that proved he was selling weapons in a shipment to Syria that had arrived in the US:
“This website company, Yassma Trading USA, has a shipping company located in Saint Mary’s County, Maryland, the United States of America. The shipping company – Barry Silver Ocean’s Distribution Company – knew or should have known that defendant Yassin and Yassma Trading USA were unlawfully shipping military ammunition and guns to Syria. Defendants Yassin and Yassma Trading USA were involved in illegal sales of military ammunition and guns to Syria.”
Yassin tells VICE the shipping company did not supply the weapons to Syria.
“We never delivered this to the hospital. … We never knew there was munitions in this. … We were there to talk to the main guy, who was the person who took care of the area. … That’s all.”
Yassin says a shell surfaced in the field and returned by accident to Syria after it landed in Syria.
“I wish we were supposed to be letting people have water from the hospital,” he says. “We were not paid.”
This incident raises the question about why the three governments involved in the US government’s investigations didn’t do more to inspect shipments that may not have been legal.
According to the indictment, Yassin and his company not only tried to avoid the inspection process, but destroyed hard drives that they knew would eventually be turned over to the FBI.
The indictment reveals that it is not Yassin’s first brush with the law. The complaint says Yassin was arrested in June by Lebanese authorities after an explosion at his car. He was subsequently released and has fled Lebanon.
The indictment reads:
“He was charged with illegal possession of explosives and drug possession, which resulted in him being deported to Lebanon, where he was again arrested for possessing explosives and was sentenced to four years in prison.”
Yassin was ordered to appear in the Brooklyn federal court for arraignment on Friday.
• This article was amended on 9 August 2016 to add a reference to Yasir Yassin’s previous convictions in Lebanon and clarification that he is a Canadian-Lebanese.