I wrote an article on the strange case of Imran Awan about two months ago. To summarize it briefly, Awan, his two brothers and wife, naturalized U.S. citizens born in Pakistan living in the Washington DC area, found employment as IT administrators in the House of Representatives working for as many as 80 Democratic Party congressmen. Even though they may have had little actual training in IT, they insinuated themselves into the system and were paid in excess of $5 million over the course of ten years, chief-of-staff level pay, while frequently not even showing up for work. They even brought into the arrangement a frequent no-show Pakistani friend whose prior work history consisted of getting recently fired by McDonald’s.
Along the way, their security files were never reviewed. They were involved in bankruptcies, bank fraud and other criminal activity, but their troublesome behavior was never noticed. They were on bad terms with their father and step-mother, which including forging a document to cheat their step-mother of an insurance payment and even holding her “captive” so she could not see their dying father. Their father even changed his last name to dissociate himself from them.
Imran Awan, the leader of the group, worked particularly for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was, at the time, also the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Though he had no clearance and was not supposed to work with classified material, he and his family obtained password access to congressional files and Imran himself was able to enter Wasserman-Schultz’s own personal iPad computer which linked to the server used by the Democratic National Committee.
As of February 2016, the Awans came under suspicion by the Capitol Hill Police for having set up an operation involving double billing as well as the possible theft and reselling of government owned computer equipment. It was also believed that they had somehow obtained entry to much of the House of Representatives’ computer network as well as to other information in the individual offices’ separate computer systems that they were in theory not allowed to access. It was also believed that Imran sent “massive” quantities of stolen government files to a remote personal server. It may have been located in his former residence in Lorton, Virginia. The police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family members and associates, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.
Imran was arrested on July 25th at Dulles Airport as he was flying to Pakistan to join his wife Alvi, who had left the country with their children and many of their possessions in March. In January, they had also wired to Pakistan $283,000 that they had obtained fraudulently from the Congressional credit union. After his arrest, Imran was defended by lawyer Chris Gowen, a high-priced $1,000 an hour Washington attorney who has worked for the Clintons personally, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.
There are many questions regarding the Awan case. One might reasonably ask how foreign-born IT specialists are selected and vetted prior to being significantly overpaid and allowed to work on computers in congressional offices. And the ability of those same individuals to keep working even after the relevant congressmen have been warned that their employee was under investigation has to be explained beyond Wasserman-Schultz’s comment that Awan had not committed any crime, which may have been true but one would expect congressmen to err on the side of caution over an issue that could easily have national security ramifications. And how does a recently bankrupt and unemployed Imran Awan wind up with a high-priced Clinton-connected lawyer to defend himself?
As the story involves possible espionage, fraud and even something new to consider regarding the theft of information from the DNC server, one might have expected the Fourth Estate to wake from its slumber and take notice. But perhaps not surprisingly there has been astonishingly little follow-up in the mainstream media about the Awan family, possibly because it involves some leading Democrats, though the Daily Caller and some other conservative sites have stayed on top of developments.
Since his arrest Imran Awan has had his passports confiscated by the court and has been released on bail on condition that he wear an ankle monitor at all times and not travel more than 50 miles from the Virginia home where he is staying with a relative. In early September, he sought to have the monitor removed and his passports returned so he could travel to Pakistan and visit his children. His plea was rejected. He is not yet scheduled for trial on the allegations of bank fraud and is apparently still under investigation by the Bureau relating to other possible charges, including possible espionage. His four accomplices are also still under investigation but have not been charged. They are on a watch list and will not be allowed to leave the United States while the inquiry is continuing.
It has also been learned that Imran had been on the receiving end of complaints filed with the Fairfax County Virginia police in 2015-6 by two women who resided in separate apartments in Alexandria that are reportedly paid for by Imran Awan. Both of the women complained of abuse and one is believed to be a “second wife” for Imran Awan, legal in Pakistan but illegal in the United States. Imran reportedly divorced his second wife shortly after his arrest.
In a surprise development, investigative journalists have also determined that Imran Awan retained as of the end of August a still-active secret, numeric email account on the House of Representatives server. E-mail accounts in Congress normally are labeled using the holder’s name, so all active accounts are identity-linked as a security measure. In this case the numeric account was linked to the actual account of a House staffer who works on national security issues for Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana. Imran Awan clearly has been using the anonymous House of Representatives address as it was cited in a suit filed by a landlord seeking unpaid rent on an apartment rented for his second wife in Alexandria.
The most significant recent development in the Awan case is, however, the decision made by Imran’s wife Alvi to return to the United States at the end of this month. She has been charged as a co-conspirator relating to the bank fraud that her husband was also involved in, which potentially could result in some jail time. There are, however, reports that she has been interviewed several times in Pakistan by FBI agents and has apparently agreed to a plea bargain to tell all she knows about what went on with the Awan family. Some on Capitol Hill believe that what she knows could prove to be explosive, not only regarding the lax security practices in Congress but also in terms of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s negligence in providing access to the DNC server. The actual whereabouts of the large quantity of stolen government documents might also be resolved.
This story, which is still unfolding, continues to have the potential to blow wide open the complacent culture on Capitol Hill and it also might ruin the reputations of a number of leading Democrats. Stay tuned!