Ex-US lawmaker shielded Pakistani aide from hacking probe

ANI | Updated: Jun 06, 2018 13:13 IST

Washington D.C. [United States], June 6 (ANI): A U.S. lawmaker has been accused of exerting all her influence in trying to kill a Congress-led investigation into a hacking incident involving her one time Pakistani IT aide.
According to a report published by the website, former Democratic National Committee (DNC) head Debbie Wasserman Schultz intervened when the House Office of Inspector General for Cyber Security found that her former Pakistani IT aide Imran Awan had made an "unauthorized access" to House servers, including the House Democratic Caucus' shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Imran and his family at that time were also under investigation for a controversial land deal in Pakistan that had deprived original owners of their money. quoted two House employees as confirming that Wasserman Schultz strongly put pressure on the investigating committee to stop the probe of a charge of fraud leveled on Awan's father in relation to the deal.
They claimed that this exertion of political influence resulted in Pakistani authorities targeting elderly alleged victims, instead of Awan and his family.
When a House Office of Inspector General cyber security investigation found that Awan had made "unauthorized access" to House servers, including the House Democratic Caucus' shortly before the election, Wasserman Schultz became "frantic, not normal," "making the rounds" to House officials in an attempt to kill the investigation, one House employee told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
They said Wasserman Schultz cornered House Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko and called him a "fucking Islamophobe," saying "you will not so much as take away their parking spots."
The congresswoman also told Kiko she had invited Awan's whole family to her daughter's bar mitzvah and said she had "helped him with a land deal," the sources said. A spokesman for Kiko declined to comment on this story.
Awan's father is reportedly facing criminal fraud charges involving a land deal since 2009, but Awan used political connections to pressure the police into targeting the alleged victims instead.
Awan's father purchased "huge chunks of land from different farmers in 2008," but all the checks bounced, the report said. "The police high-ups are 'ominously' indifferent to proceed against Awan."
"About a dozen farmers of Chak 7-JB, Panjor, including five siblings - all aged between 57 and 70 - have given up hope of justice after they sold their agricultural lands to Ashraf Awan of Bole De Jhugi, thefather of White House employee Shahid Imran," Dawn reported.
Imran Awan also goes by Shahid Imran Awan, Virginia court records show.
The police harassed the 19 would-be victims, including the five elderly brothers and even their lawyer, and charged them with "frivolous" cases, apparently to get them to stop trying to get the money they say they were owed, the paper said.
The article details a series of people who say they were then subject to retaliation, including widow Bushra Bibi who said "now Imran was threatening her with dire consequences."
A third source, who's familiar with Imran Awan, told TheDCNF that Awan recounted the intervention in the foreign criminal matter and that Awan said it was Wasserman Schultz who intervened.
A fourth source - a fellow House IT aide - previously told TheDCNF that Awan said now-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was involved.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal, one of the alleged victims, told TheDCNF that "Imran came to Pakistan to get [his father] out of jail, since he had some [connections] in the Congress."
On July 25, 2016, the House Inspector General notified the Committee on House Administration that investigators had detected major cyber security violations by the Awan family. Awan, his wife, two brothers, his brother's wife, and even his elderly father were all being paid by various Democrats to manage their servers, with many of the members from Wasserman Schultz's Florida.
In February 2017, Kiko and the House's top law enforcement official, Paul Irving, outlined serious violations in a letter to the committee, and the family was banned from the House computer network. The letter also noted that the House Democratic Caucus server disappeared soon after the IG report named it as key evidence.
But Wasserman Schultz refused to fire Awan, with her spokesman saying he would work on "websites" and "printers," which a cyber security expert previously told The DCNF would presumably involve network access.
The congresswoman also added Awan's wife, Hina Alvi, to her payroll in late 2016, after the investigation was in full swing, but before the family was banned from the network. Wasserman Schultz kept paying her until March 17 - 12 days after Alvi went to Pakistan with 12,000 dollars in a suitcase.
Her actions so rattled the Administration Committee's Democratic staff director, Jamie Fleet, that he planted a negative story in Politico that revealed Wasserman Schultz, his fellow Democrat, was continuing to pay the suspect, two House sources said.
The story also said Wasserman Schultz had a "friendly personal relationship" with Awan and Alvi.
Wasserman Schultz said in a statement, "My office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment and potential ethnic and religious profiling." (ANI)