A new bombshell joint report issued by two international weapons monitoring groups Tuesday confirms that the Pentagon continues to ship record breaking amounts of weaponry into Syria and that the Department of Defense is scrubbing its own paper trail. On Tuesday the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2 billion worth of weapons from a shady network of private dealers to allied partners in Syria – mostly old Soviet weaponry – but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates, presumably in order to hide US involvement.
The OCCRP and BIRN published internal US defense procurement files after an extensive investigation which found that the Pentagon is running a massive weapons trafficking pipeline which originates in the Balkans and Caucuses, and ends in Syria and Iraq. The program is ostensibly part of the US train, equip, and assist campaign for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, a coalition of YPG/J and Arab FSA groups operating primarily in Syria’s east). The arms transfers are massive and the program looks to continue for years. According to Foreign Policy’s (FP) coverage of the report:
The Department of Defense has budgeted $584 million specifically for this Syrian operation for the financial years 2017 and 2018, and has earmarked another $900 million of spending on Soviet-style munitions between now and 2022. The total, $2.2 billion, likely understates the flow of weapons to Syrian rebels in the coming years.
But perhaps more shocking is the following admission that Pentagon suppliers have links with known criminal networks, also from FP:
According to the report, many of the weapons suppliers — primarily in Eastern Europe but also in the former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine — have both links to organized crime throughout Eastern Europe and spotty business records.
The sheer amount of material necessary for the Pentagon program — one ammunition factory announced it planned to hire 1,000 new employees in 2016 to help cope with the demand — has reportedly stretched suppliers to the limit, forcing the Defense Department to relax standards on the materials it’s willing to accept.
It is likely that the organized crime association is the reason why the Pentagon has sought to alter its records. In addition, the sheer volume of weaponry continuing to ship to the Syrian battlefield and other parts of the Middle East means inevitable proliferation among unsavory terror groups – a phenomenon which has already been exhaustively documented in connection with the now reportedly closed CIA program to topple the Syrian government. The associations and alliances among some of the Arab former FSA groups the DoD continues to support in the north and east remains fluid, which means means US-supplied weapons will continue to pass among groups with no accountability for where they end up.
One of the authors of the OCCRP/BIRN report, Ivan Angelovski, told Foreign Policy that, “The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition.” The report is based on internal US government memos which reveal that weapons shipment destination locations have been scrubbed from original documents.
Video and photo evidence has surfaced that could prove Imran Awan maintained a chain of computer servers in the basement and locked garage area of an Alexandria, VA home he and wife Hina Alvi rented to a tenant.
The embattled Awan couple did not reside at the home, however, did maintain separate internet service and a router which fed into a locked internal storage area connected to the home, according to an interview with former tenant Laurel Everly who rented the home for nine months from the Awans in 2014 and 2015.
Everly has now provided photos and videos of the internet equipment in her locked garage area from that time period that Awan had installed from Cox Cable. The revelations were sparked from the latest interview in a series of Awan-themed stories gleaned from Everly by the journalism upstart CrowdSource the Truth.
CrowdSource Editor Jason Goodman said photo analysis pulled from video supplied by the former Awan tenant isolates snap shots of a network hub and modem that Awan likely used to sync to clandestine computers at the residence.
Awan and wife Hina Alvi were charged in a four-count indictment in August, charging the couple for defrauding the Congressional Federal Credit Union, making false statements and illegal money transfers to Pakistan. The Awans, along with two brothers, worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and dozens of other Democratic members of Congress, performing IT work.
The FBI, who interviewed Everly about her experiences renting from Awan, did not ask any questions about Awan’s probable clandestine computer set up in her basement. In fact, Goodman said on a broadcast Tuesday night, it is likely the FBI didn’t even know about the set up.
FBI sources we spoke with, who had familiarity with the pending criminal case, said they had not uncovered any evidence that Awan was using the Alexandria home to run his own computers while renting the residence to a third party.
Goodman said he planned to forward the video and photographs to the FBI for further analysis.
Everly also detailed Awan may have been using other parts of the property she rented to warehouse more servers. Much of what Everly told the FBI about Awan includes:
Awan pumped electricity from the main house to a detached locked storage shed that used cooling towers to preserve and maintain electronic “equipment.” Everly said she paid the electricity bill for set up but was not allowed access to the unit.
Everly once reported to Awan the basement at her rented home had flooded and said the landlord panicked and showed up within minutes to check the equipment in the locked garage area.
Everly thought Awan might be using her rental of the property to implicate her or set her up for possible illegal things he was involved in.
Awan had his own key to the property and often used the house when Everly or her family members were away.
Awan did not live at the house but used the address to receive personal mail at the location, often addressed to the names of different alias’ he employed.
Awan demanded rent be paid in cash only.
Everly maintained her own internet router and cable boxes on a different floor from Verizon at the rental property, separate from the Awan set up in the basement.
Awan pressured the woman to sublet her basement to a number of Pakistani nationals who had relocated to the United States.
A secret server is behind law enforcement’s decision to ban a former IT aide to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the House network.
Now-indicted former congressional IT aide Imran Awan allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server. Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations. The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network Feb. 2, according to a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.
Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.
The Justice Department is reportedly blocking Senate investigators from speaking with FBI officials who may provide first-hand testimony about Donald Trump’s firing of ex-FBI chief James Comey.
It is the latest sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be investigating the sacking as part of his Russia-related probe.
Mr Mueller is trying to determine if Mr Trump’s campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 US election. That investigation also reportedly involves a probe into whether the President obstructed justice when he allegedly asked Mr Comey to drop an inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s possible ties to Russia.
Federal law enforcement agents working the Imran Awan and Hina Alvi fraud probe said the couple, along with other members of the family, were never properly vetted for Congressional security clearances.
Instead the clearances, which provided the Awans access to dozens of Congressional Democrats computer networks and IT systems, were likely approved absent each individual background file getting “fully investigated.”
“I seriously doubt they could have passed a full background (check),” one FBI insider said. “These clearances were pushed through.”
FBI insiders used the word “forged” to describe the process of what happened to the Awan files. Federal law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case divulged:
Either someone with clout in Congress, or higher, made sure the Awans received their security clearances despite glaring problems or the investigators pushed their files through for approval as part of a systemic breakdown.
Many assertions in the Awan-linked applications and files could not be verified by subsequent FBI vetting as part of the criminal case now pending against Imran and Hina. The files are problematic, FBI sources said.
The FBI did not conduct the background checks on members of the Awan family who were granted security clearances in Congress..
A former FBI section chief and security clearance expert said this type of malfeasance is commonplace in D.C.
The Inspector General found widespread fraud in firms conducting Congressional and government background checks, often cutting corners to approve files without vetting the applicants.
This type of overt government malfeasance regarding security clearances is very common, according to former FBI section chief Michael F. McMahon. As an agent, McMahon was the FBI’s key whistle blower on the troublesome gaps plaguing the federal system which too often rubber stamps security clearances for unqualified applicants.
Security at the State Department’s Benghazi compound was so dire that another contractor was brought in to clean up the mess just two weeks before the 2012 terror attack – and was later pressured to keep quiet by a government bureaucrat under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to two men from the American security company.
Brad Owens and Jerry Torres, of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, say they faced pressure to stay silent and get on the same page with the State Department with regard to the security lapses that led to the deaths of four Americans.
Washington State government has a big slush fund: