Imran Awan, the ringleader of a group of Pakistani IT “professionals” who were employed by numerous Democrat members of Congress and the caucus itself, was arrested on bank fraud charges Monday at Dulles Airport as he was attempting to leave the country. Just prior to his jaunt out to Dulles, Awan had wired $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to an account in Pakistan.
Awan’s group has been under investigation for months for theft, IT abuses, and various financial schemes.
The arrest came one day after the Daily Caller reported that the FBI had seized numerous smashed hard drives and other computer parts from Awan’s former residence in Virginia. Awan moved out of that home early this year, when he learned he was under investigation, and rented it to military families.
Awan was arraigned at US District Court in Washington, DC and allowed to post bail and wear an ankle bracelet. Tuesday his attorney, Christopher Gowen, issued a statement blaming Islamophobia and that good old standby, the “vast right wing conspiracy” for making up this entirely false story against his client, who’s just a hard-working immigrant trying to make a better life for himself.
From the statement [emphasis mine]:
The attacks on Mr. Awan and his family began as part of a frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry in the literal heart of our democracy, the House of Representatives. For months we have had utterly unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous statements targeting Mr. Awan coming not just from the ultra-right-wing “pizzagate” media but from sitting members of congress. Now we have the Justice Department showing up with a complaint about disclosures on a modest real estate matter. To an extent, the situation speaks for itself.
How many buzzwords can you count here? If you’ve read detailed accounts of the numerous and varied allegations against Awan, et al., you know they’re not utterly unsupported. But the dog whistle terms of “anti-Muslim bigotry,” “ultra-right-wing,” “pizzagate,” are included to wake up the cyborg #resist crowd.
Mr. Awan’s family is presently staying with extended family in Pakistan because he and his wife were both abruptly and unjustly fired, leaving them without a reliable source of income to pay typical U.S. living expenses, and because extremist right-wing bloggers were beginning to harass them and their children—even going to their children’s schools.
Of course, the gratuitous “extremist” adjective is employed. But the assertion that his wife has been in Pakistan for months because Awan was fired Monday – after his arrest – by Debbie Wasserman Schultz defies logic. If he had $283,000 available to transfer out of the bank, he’s done a pretty damn good job of struggling to earn living expenses.
Unjustly fired? The FBI seized probably tens of thousands of dollars of computer equipment from the garage of his former residence, computer equipment that was clearly procured by the federal government, and DWS knew this. Other staffers in the IT department said members of the group rarely appeared at the office and that they stored data on off-site servers and with unapproved cloud backup services. There was more than enough justification to fire all of them.
Mr. Awan has stayed in the U.S. to earn some income to manage this situation as best as possible. He attempted to travel this week to see his family for the first time in months. The government had been informed he would travel and had stated no objection. Yet on Monday night he was hastily arrested at Dulles airport.
Hastily? After THAT bank transaction?
If Mr. Awan is of such humble circumstances, how is he possibly able to afford Mr. Gowen’s services? He’s a well-respected attorney with major connections, including – hold your breath here – Bill and Hillary Clinton. From his bio:
Mr. Gowen left the Public Defender’s office [in Miami-Dade] to work for former President William Jefferson Clinton and then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Chris was a fact checker for President Clinton’s memoir, My Life. He also served as a traveling aid for President Clinton’s national and international trips. Chris finished his tenure with the Clintons by directing the advance operations for then-Senator Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.
It’s a stretch to think that Awan just knew to call Gowen right off the bat.
There’s another interesting possible connection between all of the players in the case – with the emphasis on possible. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s brother, Steven Wasserman, has been an Assistant US Attorney for the District of Columbia for 14 years. On his LinkedIn page he describes the focus of his work:
“Conduct all phases of federal criminal litigation with a focus on organized crime, narcotics, and violent offenses. Experienced in investigations of large-scale and complex criminal organizations and networks, including organizations operating internationally.”
After hearing allegations that Steven Wasserman was the US Attorney handling this case, we attempted to obtain case documents that would reveal the name of the prosecuting attorney but have been unable to obtain documentation at this time. But, given the nature of the case, and the fact that Awan had been Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s “right hand” for years, had access to all of her passwords and digital data, that DWS threatened to yank Capitol Police funding over the investigation, and the fact that her brother works in that office and focuses on the issues he does, the information is relevant and something we will continue to investigate.