US charges seven in plot to supply missiles to Taliban

US charges seven in plot to supply missiles to Taliban

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.