TWO U.S. CITIZENS CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO HELP THE TALIBAN

United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
APRIL 29, 2011 ELLEN DAVIS, CARLY SULLIVAN
MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES EXTRADITION

OF Defendants Extradited From Romania To Face Charges
For Agreeing To Sell Surface-To-Air Missiles and
Other Lethal Weapons To The Taliban
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, and MICHELE M. LEONHART, the
Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement
Administration (“DEA”), announced today that ALWAR POURYAN and
ODED ORBACH were extradited from Romania where they had been
arrested for conspiring to sell weapons to the Taliban, including
surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), to be used to protect Talibanowned
heroin laboratories in Afghanistan. POURYAN and ORBACH,
both naturalized United States citizens, will make their first
appearance today in Manhattan federal court. Their codefendants,
MAROUN SAADE, WALID NASR, FRANCIS SOUROU AHISSOU,
CORNEILLE DATO, and MARTIN RAOUF BOURAIMA, were previously
arrested in Liberia and brought to the United States in February
2011.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “As
charged, Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach — two U.S. citizens —
thought that they were arranging the sale of lethal weapons to
members of a dangerous narco-terrorist organization to protect
its lucrative narcotics operation and harm Americans in the
process. They will now begin to answer for their actions in
Manhattan federal court. We will continue to work aggressively
with our partners at the DEA and around the world to bring those
who would do harm to Americans to justice.”
DEA Administrator MICHELE M. LEONHART stated: “We see a
troublesome trend worldwide – the tie between drug trafficking
and dangerous global terrorists who scheme every day to harm
innocent Americans and others around the world. Our partners in
Europe and West Africa helped make this possible, ensuring these
narco-terrorists will now get what they fear most: prosecution in
a U.S. court of law.”
According to the Superseding Indictment:
Beginning in the summer of 2010, the defendants
communicated with confidential sources (“CSs”) working with the
DEA who purported to represent the Taliban. The communications
occurred by telephone, via email, and in a series of audiorecorded
and videotaped meetings over several months in Benin,
Ghana, Ukraine, and Romania.
During meetings in Ghana, Ukraine, and Romania
beginning in November 2010, SAADE, POURYAN, and ORBACH, at
different times, allegedly agreed to arrange the sale of weapons,
including SAMs, to the CSs for the Taliban’s use in Afghanistan.
SAADE introduced the CSs to POURYAN, whom SAADE described as a
weapons trafficker affiliated with Hezbollah. The CSs thereafter
engaged in a series of meetings with POURYAN and ORBACH during
which POURYAN and ORBACH discussed specifications, pricing, and
the provision of training for the sale of various weapons,
including, among others, SAMs, anti-tank missiles, grenade
launchers, AK-47s, and M-16s.
For example, on February 9 and 10, 2011, in Bucharest,
Romania, POURYAN and ORBACH met with a DEA confidential source,
who purported to work for the Taliban, and who stated that the
Taliban were seeking to purchase modern weapons, including SAMs,
in order to protect their heroin laboratories from attacks by
U.S. helicopters. POURYAN and ORBACH told the confidential
source that they could provide advice on which types of weapons
to purchase and discussed payment for, and delivery of, the
weapons.
* * *
Counts Four and Five of the Superseding Indictment
charge POURYAN and ORBACH, along with other co-defendants, as
follows:
• Count Four charges SAADE, NASR, POURYAN, and ORBACH
with conspiracy to provide material support and
resources to terrorists -– namely, the Taliban –- in
-2-
violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section
2339A.
• Count Five charges SAADE, POURYAN, and ORBACH with
conspiracy to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft
missiles, in violation of Title 18, United States Code,
Section 2332g.
Count Four carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in
prison. Count Five carries a maximum penalty of life in prison,
with a mandatory minimum term of 25 years in prison.
POURYAN and ORBACH were arrested in Bucharest, Romania,
in coordination with Romanian authorities, on February 10, 2011,
and remained in the custody of Romanian authorities until their
extradition today to the United States.
The charges, arrests, and transfers of the defendants
were the result of close cooperation among the U.S. Attorney’s
Office for the Southern District of New York, the Special
Operations Division of the DEA, the DEA Lagos Country Office, the
DEA Warsaw Country Office, the DEA Ghana Country Office, the DEA
Athens Country Office, the DEA SECI (South East European
Cooperative Initiative Regional Center for Combating Transborder
Crime), the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs
and the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of
Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of
Illinois, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, and the governments of the Republic of
Liberia, Romania, and Ukraine.
Mr. BHARARA expressed his sincere gratitude for the
work of the Romanian National Prosecutor’s Directorate for
Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, the Romanian
Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Appeals, and the Romanian
National Police Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s
Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys CHRISTIAN R. EVERDELL, AIMEE HECTOR, and GLEN A. KOPP
are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are
merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent
unless and until proven guilty.
11-116 ###
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