The father of Imran Awan – a longtime IT aide from Pakistan who made “unauthorized access” to the House computer network – reportedly transferred a USB drive to the former head of a Pakistani intelligence agency, alleges the father’s ex-business partner, Rashid Minhas.
Minhas told the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) – which traveled to Pakistan to interview those involved – that Haji Ashraf Awan, Imran Awan’s father, had been giving information to Rehman Malik – former head of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and current senator. Malik was appointed to Interior Minister in early 2008, only to step down in 2013 after he lost a Supreme Court hearing over holding dual UK citizenship.
Minhas told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Imran Awan’s father, Haji Ashraf Awan, was giving data to Pakistani official Rehman Malik, and that Imran bragged he had the power to “change the U.S. president.”
Asked for how he knew this, he said that on one occasion in 2008 when a “USB [was] given to Rehman Malik by Imran’s father, my brother Abdul Razzaq was with his father.” –DCNF
“After Imran’s father deliver (sic) USB to Rehman Malik, four Pakistani [government intelligence] agents were with his father 24-hour on duty to protect him,” he said – however Minhas did not say what was on the USB.
The House watchdog, Inspector General Michael Ptasienski, charged in September 30, 2016 that data was being siphoned off of the House Network by the Awans as recently as two months before the US presidential election.
The Awan family had virtually unlimited access to Democratic House members’ computers, including classified information.
Nearly Imran’s entire immediate family was on the House payroll working as IT aides to one-fifth of House Democrats, and he began working for the House in 2004. The inspector general, Michael Ptasienski, testified this month that “system administrators hold the ‘keys to the kingdom’ meaning they can create accounts, grant access, view, download, update, or delete almost any electronic information within an office. Because of this high-level access, a rogue system administrator could inflict considerable damage.” –DCNF
According to Minhas – “Imran Awan said to me directly these words: ‘See how I control White House on my fingertip…’ He say he can fire the prime minister or change the U.S. president,” Minhas said. “Why the claiming big stuff, I [didn’t] understand ’till now.”
“I was Imran father’s partner in Pakistan,” Minhas said, in two land deals in Pakistan so big that they are often referred to as “towns.” In 2009, both men were accused of fraud, and Haji was arrested but then released after Imran flew to Pakistan, “allegedly… exerting pressure on the local police through the ministry as well as the department concerned,” according to local news. Minhas and multiple alleged victims in Pakistan also told TheDCNF Imran exerted political influence in Pakistan to extricate his father from the case. –DCNF
Minhas is currently sitting in US federal prison for fraud, and the Daily Caller says they can not confirm whether Minhas’ claims about the USB is true. That said, Minhas says that neither the DOJ nor the FBI ever interviewed him about the Awans, which is odd considering that he’s available and connected to Imran Awan.
He is also one of many people with past relationships with the Awans who have said they believe they are aggressive opportunists who will do anything for money. And parts of Minhas’s story correlate with observations elsewhere. Haji’s wife, Samina Gilani — Imran’s stepmother — said in court documents that Imran used his IT skills to wiretap her as a means of exerting pressure on her.
Haji would frequently boast that Imran’s position gave him political leverage, numerous Pakistani residents told TheDCNF. “My son own White House in D.C.,” he would say, according to Minhas. “I am kingmaker.”
Senator Malik has denied any relationship with the parties reportedly involved, saying “I am hearing their names for the first time. I am in public and people always do name-dropping.”
Imran Awan’s attorney Chris Gowen says Minhas’s claims are “completely and totally false.”
The Awans were banned from the congressional network on Feb 2, 2017 by House Seargant-At-Arms, Paul Irving – after the IG report concluded that the Awans had been making “unauthorized access” to House servers. The Awans were logging in using Congressional members’ personal usernames, as well as breaching servers for members they did not work for. After several members fired them, the Awans continued to access their data, says the IG.
The behavior mirrored a “classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization,” and “steps are being taken [by the Awans] to conceal their activity,” reads the report.
Shortly before the 2016 election, the House Democratic Caucus server was breached by Awan – who authorities believe secretly moved all the data of over 12 House members’ offices onto the caucus server.
The server may have been “used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information,” an IG presentation said. The Awans logged into it 27 times a day, far more than any other computer they administered.
Imran’s most forceful advocate and longtime employer is Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who led the DNC until she resigned following a hack that exposed committee emails. Wikileaks published those emails, and they show that DNC staff summoned Imran when they needed her password. –DCNF
Shortly after the IG report came out, the House Democratic Caucus server – which the Awans were funneling data onto, was physically stolen according to three government officials. During the same period of time, the Awans were shedding assets at a rapid pace.
In January 2017 they took out a loan intended for home improvement, falsely claimed a medical emergency in order to cash out their House retirement account, and wired $300,000 overseas, according to an FBI affidavit. –DCNF
The FBI arrested Imran Awan at Dulles Airport in July 2017 while trying to flee to Pakistan with a wiped cell phone and a resume that listed a Queens, NY address. Imran and his wife, Hina Alvi, were indicted last August on charges of bank fraud – which prosecutors contend was hastened after the Awans had likely learned that authorities were closing in on them for various other activities.
That said, neither Imran nor Hina have been charged over the unauthorized access concluded by the House’s own Inspector General, after reviewing server logs. Three other suspects, Jamal and Abid Awan, and Rao Abbas, have faced no charges whatsoever.