US charges 7 seven in plot to supply missiles to Taliban

US authorities have charged seven men, including two American citizens, with conspiring to aid Taliban fighters in Afghanistan by selling them surface-to-air missiles and moving drugs through West Africa.

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011, 13:59 PM IST

Boston: US authorities have charged seven
men, including two American citizens, with conspiring to aid Taliban fighters in Afghanistan by selling the militant group
weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, and moving drugs through West Africa.

According to the charging documents unsealed in
Manhattan federal court, the men agreed to smuggle and sell
heroin and missiles to undercover Drug Enforcement and
Administration (DEA) agents, who were posing as members of the
Taliban in Afghanistan.

The seven men charged are - Maroun Saade, Walid Nasr,
Francis Sourou Ahissou, Corneille Dato, Martin Raouf Bouraima,
Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach.

The men agreed to receive and move ton-quantities of
Taliban-owned heroin through West Africa, portions of which
they understood would then be sent to the United States.

They also agreed to sell substantial quantities of cocaine to the undercover agents that the Taliban could sell at a profit in the US.
Saade, along with US citizens Pouryan and Orbach,
agreed to sell weapons to the militant group including
surface-to-air missiles to be used to protect Taliban-owned
heroin laboratories against US attack in Afghanistan.

Five of the men were arrested in Liberia last week
and were due to be extradited to the United States to face the
charges.

The two American citizens ? Pouryan and Orbach ? were
arrested in Bucharest, Romania last week where they will
remain pending extradition to the US.

"The men including two US citizens were prepared to
provide millions of dollars in dangerous narcotics and lethal
weapons to men they believed represented the Taliban. 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," Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a
statement.

According to the indictment, the men communicated
with the undercover DEA agents through telephone, email and
videotaped meetings over several months in 2010 in Benin,
Ghana, Ukraine, and Romania.

PTI