Luke Rosiak, DCNF
Devout Muslims who called the police on their own relatives — who work as Democratic House IT staffers — are disgusted by Rep. Gregory Meeks being “hesitant to believe” the charges against them, with Meeks saying the allegations may have stemmed from Islamophobia.
The New York Democrat’s IT staffer Hina Alvi and her husband, Imran Awan, have been banned from Congress by Capitol Police, suspecting them of criminal violations of network security in relation to congressional data. Imran’s brothers Abid and Jamal were also on the House payroll as IT workers and have been banned.
But “I have seen no evidence that they were doing anything that was nefarious,” Meeks told Politico March 1.
On March 8, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group published a Fairfax County, Va., police report showing in January, Imran’s stepmother called the police and said the brothers were controlling her.
The stepmom and a relative said the brothers were holding her “captive,” wiretapping her, and threatening to have loved ones abducted in Pakistan unless she helped the brothers access large sums of cash stored overseas in their father’s name.
TheDCNF provided the police report and news story to Meeks spokesman Jordan Morris and asked if that changed his opinion on “nefarious” behavior. But after receiving the materials, Meeks’ office simply ignored the development and would not take any further calls from TheDCNF.
The stepmom, Samina Ashraf Gilani, and one of her relatives reached out to TheDCNF after seeing Meeks’ comments.
“I would like to please to mention that if some Congress members are saying they are being picked on because they are Muslim, it’s a joke. I’m an immigrant, too. They’re not being picked on because they’re Muslim, they’re being investigated because they did something wrong,” said the relative, who requested anonymity.
Politico wrote “Meeks said he was hesitant to believe the accusations against Alvi, Imran Awan and the three other staffers, saying their background as Muslim Americans, some with ties to Pakistan, could make them easy targets for false charges. ‘I wanted to be sure individuals are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion,’” it quoted Meeks.
The Pakistani relative said, “That’s a completely insane statement, it has nothing to do with their being Muslim, they are bad people. What they have done to their mother, their father–I don’t want to use this word but I’m ashamed. Who could defend that?”
Gilani spoke with TheDCNF Saturday and said, “My stepchildren captivated me in house for a long time … They did not let me see and meet with my husband and captivated me in house and even after a police call done by me they did not let me meet him until my husband died. I am helpless and homeless because stepsons threatened me so much so I was compelled to leave.”
She said after the father died Jan. 16, she learned that Abid had switched his life insurance beneficiary from her name to his a month prior. She has fled from the brothers and filed a second complaint with Fairfax County alleging insurance fraud and detailing the brothers’ attempts to control her.
The relative — who is helping advocate for Gilani because her English is not good, and requested anonymity because of the brothers’ violent threats — said the brothers had assets overseas in their father’s name and needed her to access them. The police report says an “obviously upset” Abid waved an unsigned power of attorney document and “refused to disclose his father’s location.”
The relative said Gilani and other concerned relatives are devout Muslims with urgent concerns about the brothers’ capacity for violence and what they would do for money. “If they were real Muslims, they wouldn’t have treated their mother like this … If they would do this to their own mother for money, do you think they would not misuse their jobs in Congress?”
The suspects could read all emails sent and received by dozens of Democratic members of Congress.
Soon after Imran joined the payroll of Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2005, his two brothers and two of their wives, as well as a friend, appeared on the salary rosters of various House Democrats, making far more than most congressional IT guys and collecting a combined $4 million in House salary payments alone in recent years.
Jamal Awan was only 20 years old when he was placed in the role, and court documents show Imran and Abid were running a full-time car dealership during the same time.
The car dealership took and did not repay a $100,000 loan from an Iraqi politician who has been tied to Hezbollah and is currently wanted by the Department of Justice. The millions of dollars seemed to disappear, and Abid declared bankruptcy listing $1 million in liabilities while he had access to valuable congressional data.
Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio told Politico she has not fired Imran because “He needs to have a hearing. Due process is very simple. You don’t fire someone until you talk to them.” Spokeswoman Lauren Williams did not return a call from TheDCNF about whether Fudge was aware of the stepmother’s allegations, or whether she had found time to talk with Imran in the three weeks since.
Meeks, on the other hand, simultaneously fired Alvi, calling it a “distraction,” while also defending her. Meeks told Politico: “They had provided great service for me. And there were certain times in which they had permission by me, if it was Hina or someone else, to access some of my data.”
Only Alvi had a recent employment relationship with Meeks, and his spokesman would not explain why he implied someone not on his staff might be accessing his data.
A former House central IT staffer said Imran pressured central IT to give him high-level access and obscure the paper trail, and that members’ IT staffers can access any file on that member’s computer.
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