NEW YORK: Seven men on Monday were charged with conspiring to aid the Taliban, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara informed.
Two U.S. Citizens were arrested for agreeing to sell surface-to-air missiles and other lethal weapons to the Taliban while five defendants were charged with operating an international drug conspiracy in West Africa and conspiring to aid the Taliban.
The seven defendants, Maroun Saade, Waklid Nasr, Francis Sourou Ahissou, Corneille Dato, Martin Raouf Bouraima, Alwar Pouryan, and Oded Orbach, for conspiring to provide various forms of support to DEA confidential sources whom they believed to be representatives of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"As alleged, the defendants charged today, including two U.S. citizens, were prepared to provide millions of dollars in dangerous narcotics and lethal weapons to men they believed represented the Taliban," said Bharara.
Some of the defendants agreed to receive, store, and move ton-quantities of Taliban-owned heroin through West Africa, portions of which they understood would then be sent to the United States.
Other defendants agreed to sell substantial quantities of cocaine that the Taliban could sell at a profit in the United States. Saade and U.S. citizens Pouryan and Orbach agreed to sell weapons to the Taliban, including surface to-air missiles to be used to protect Taliban-owned heroin laboratories in Afghanistan.
"This alleged effort to arm and enrich the Taliban is the latest example of the dangers of an interconnected world in which terrorists and drug runners can link up across continents to harm Americans," added Bharara.
In early 2010, the defendants communicated with confidential sources working with the DEA who pretended to be Taliban representatives. The communications occurred by telephone, via email, and in a series of audio recorded and videotaped meetings over several months in Benin, Ghana, Ukraine, and Romania.
In June, Saade, Nasr, Dato and Bouraima agreed to receive and store large shipments of heroin to be sold for the financial benefit of the Taliban in the United States. The four defendants plus Ahissou agreed to sell cocaine as well.
In October, Saade, Pouryan and Orbach agreed to arrange the sale of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, to be used by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pouryan was introduced as a weapons trafficker with links to Hezbollah.
Saade, Nasr, Ahissou, Dato and Bouraima were arrested in Monrovia, Liberia, on February 10 and 12, 2011, and were later extradited to the United States.
(BNO NEWS )