House intelligence IT staffers abruptly fired following computer security probe

House intelligence IT staffers abruptly fired following computer security probe
Imran Awan with Bill Clinton (Image via Facebook)

Three brothers who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computer networks without permission.

Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives Thursday, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

Three members of the intelligence panel and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs were among the dozens of members who employed the suspects on a shared basis. The two committees deal with many of the nation’s most sensitive issues, information, and documents, including those related to the war on terrorism.

Also among those whose computer systems may have been compromised is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz , the Florida Democrat who was previously the target of a disastrous email hack when she served as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign.

The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.

Jamal Awan handled IT for Rep. Joaquin Castro , a Texas Democrat who serves on both the intelligence and foreign affairs panels.

“As of 2/2, his employment with our office has been terminated,” Castro spokeswoman Erin Hatch told TheDCNF Friday.

Jamal Awan also worked for Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond , who is on the Committee on Homeland Security.

His brother Imran worked for Reps. Andre Carson , an Indiana Democrat, and Jackie Speier , a California Democrat. Carson and Speier are members of the intelligence committee. Spokesmen for Carson and Speier did not respond to TheDCNF’s requests for comments. Imran Awan also worked for the House office of Wasserman-Schultz.

Then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth , an Illinois Democrat, employed Abid Awan for IT work in 2016. She was a member of House committees dealing with the armed services, oversight, and Benghazi. Duckworth was elected to the Senate in November, 2016. Abid Awan has a prior criminal record and a bankruptcy.

This particular brother also worked for Rep. Lois Frankel , a Florida Democrat who is member of the foreign affairs committee.

The three men are “shared employees,” meaning they are hired by multiple offices, which split their salaries and use them as needed for IT services. It is up to each member to fire them from working.

A criminal investigation into five unnamed people began late last year related to serious and potentially illegal violations of House IT policies, Politico reported Thursday. Chiefs of staff for the members were briefed Thursday by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the investigation was still ongoing, and arrests have not been made but staff were “asked to update their security settings.”

BuzzFeed reported Friday that one of the affected members claimed “they said it was some sort of procurement scam, but now I’m concerned that they may have stolen data from us, emails, who knows.”

Jamal Awan did not return a request for comment from TheDCNF at a personal email address, while emails to House addresses in the three mens’ names bounced back Friday.

BuzzFeed reported that the Sergeant-at-Arms told staff that the subjects were four men who were brothers and one woman. It did not name them.

Another man, Omar Awan, is a senior IT specialist for the House’s Chief Administrative Officer. An email to his House address did not bounce back Friday, but did not receive a response.

Abid, Imran and Jamal Awan share a house in Lorton, Va., that is owned by Hina R. Alvi, a woman. Alvi is also a House IT employee who works for many of the same members as the three brothers, as well as the House Democratic Caucus.

Signs of trouble have long been visible in public records. The Congressional Credit Union repossessed Abid Awan’s car in 2009, and he declared bankruptcy in 2012, facing multiple lawsuits.

Security-sensitive jobs typically require background checks for credit and legal problems that can create pressures to cash in on access to secret information and documents.

Alvi has multiple second mortgages. She did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

Jamal Awan , who public records indicate is only 22 years old and first began working in the House when he was 20, was paid nearly $160,000 a year, or three times the average House IT staff salary, according to InsideGov, which tracks congressional salaries. Abid Awan was paid $161,000 and Imran $165,000.

This report, by Luke Rosiak, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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