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Tag: Afghanistan

Former FBI Agent Indicted on Charges of Trying to Derail a Federal Investigation into Defense Contracts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 A former FBI agent, along with a defense contractor, was indicted Thursday for participating in what authorities say was a multimillion-dollar scheme to win military contracts in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reports.

An FBI special agent assigned to counterintelligence work until September 2011, Robert G. Lustyik, 50, is accused of using his position to derail a criminal investigation into contract awards, according to the AP.

The Sleepy Hollow, NY, resident agreed to abuse his position in exchange for cash, medical expenses and business proceeds, authorities allege.

Also indicted was defense contractor, 51-year-old Michael Taylor, who is accused of making the offers to Lustyik.

Investigators charge that Lustyik tried to impede federal charges against Taylor, telling feds in Utah that Taylor was a confidential informant, according to the AP.

NATO Takes Out 2nd-Highest al Qaeda Leader in Afghanistan

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. led-NATO forces chalked up a major score in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda’s second-highest Afghan leader, Sakhr al-Taifi, was killed by a NATO airstrike in eastern Kunar province on Sunday, reports the AP.

Al-Taifi, also known as Mushtaq and Nasim, commanded foreign insurgents in Afghanistan and directed attacks against NATO and Afghan forces, the coalition told AP. He often traveled to Pakistan communicating with al Qaeda higher-ups and transporting weapons and fighters.

NATO reported no civilian casualties in the Sunday strike.

To read more click here.

One of Largest Heroin Traffickers in the World Convicted on Drug and Narco-Terrorism Charges

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An Afghan national with ties to the Taliban who authorities described as “one of the largest heroin traffickers in the world” was convicted Tuesday in fed court in D.C. on drug and narco-terrrorism charges, the Justice Department said.

Haji Bagcho, who hailed from Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, was investigated by the DEA. Authorities said he manufactured heroin in clandestine laboratories along Afghanistan’s border region with Pakistan and sold the product to more than 20 countries, including the U.S.

He then sent the proceeds to support high-level members of the Taliban to further their insurgency in Afghanistan, the Justice Dept. said.

“Haji Bagcho was a prolific and dangerous heroin manufacturer, trafficking in over 123,000 kilograms of the drug in 2006 alone,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a statement.

“Moreover, he used proceeds from his crimes to fund Taliban insurgents and fuel their ongoing ‘jihad’ against the United States and others. The effects of Bagcho’s criminal activity were felt all over the world, and today’s guilty verdict ensures that he will serve a lengthy prison term.”

Fundraising Efforts Continue for Family of Wounded DEA Agent Joe Piersante

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Efforts to help the family of Joe Piersante, a DEA agent wounded in Afghanistan last year while on a mission, is continuing.

Besides raising money through t-shirt sales,  people are being encouraged to contribute directly to the family by sending a check  to JFCU at the following address and endorsement for their contribution:

Justice Federal Credit Union, 5175 Parkstone Drive, Suite 200, Chantilly, VA 20151

Check should be made payable to: Joe Piersante Warrior Fund. Endorse Check “For Deposit” Account Number: 11000002132840.

The DEA said that Piersante was operating in Helmand Province Afghanistan on a counter-narcotics mission along with a combined task force of Afghan National Units along with Australian Special Operations Forces when he encountered Taliban insurgents.

Piersante was struck in the head with a 7.62 mm round, which penetrated his ballistic helmet, passed through both frontal lobes of his brain and caused severe trauma to both optical nerves.

The DEA says he has progressed and is home, but will need to undergo months of intensive rehabilitation.

Here’s how to get the t-shirt to help the family : Pre-Order Sale. Contact Randy Updegraff @ JPWarriorFund@comcast.net or a POC in your area to consolidate orders. Request payment in advance; checks made out to Randy Updegraff in order to better able to facilitate production of the shirts and gauge demand. Denote quantity and size in orders: (2XL, XL, L, M.) Remit Payment to DEA Philadelphia, 600 Arch Street, Suite 10224, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Attn: Randy Updegraff (Group 2).

People are urged to include a mailing address and e-mail address with each order. Orders will be placed on March 1.

 

At FBI, Hope for Injured Soldiers Returning Home

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It was an IED that did it for Povas Miknaitis.

After an initial deployment to Iraq in 2008, he was later sent to Afghanistan as a Marine rifleman. In Afghanistan, an IED blast sent shrapnel flying; some hit his arm and abdomen; larger pieces struck his face, shattering his jaw and blowing his right ear clean off of his head.

“Part of my mouth was missing,”  Miknaitis tells ticklethewire.com. “It just broke my jaw completely.”

It was in a hospital, recovering from the blast in 2009, that Miknaitis heard about an FBI training program for injured soldiers called Wounded Warriors. He began filling out paperwork and initiating the process of joining the bureau’s Wounded Warriors internship program. In 2011, when the program was launched, he landed a spot in a program that seems to be taking off.

So far, so good.

Of the 21 soldiers who have completed various internships, two have been hired full time; one as a clerk and another in IT. Another 43 are currently serving as interns, 78 are being processed and more are in line pending a funding evaluation, says FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson. Interns work in a variety of capacities, from logistics, intelligence, investigations to computer- and technology-focused jobs.

“Our goal is to give them working experience and the clearances they need,” to get back to work, says Thoreson. “We think this is a really wonderful program. It’s really helping people get their lives back.”

The San Diego field office, where Miknaitis interned, is among the few offices that are participating in the program. Others include the Washington Field Office, Sacramento, Charlotte and the FBI’s International Operations Division, Operational Technology Division, and Laboratory.

As expected, landing a spot with the FBI — even a temporary one — requires an intensive background check.

“This was not the same background check I went through for the military,” says Miknaitis. Agents called friends and family of his. “I had relatives calling me from Chicago asking if I was okay, saying the FBI had called asking questions about me,” he recollects.

Once Miknaitis was cleared, he began he began an internship researching cases for ongoing FBI investigations. “I was always interested in law enforcement,” he says, “and the internship program really let me learn a lot more about it. It got me employed while I was still recovering.”

Miknaitis still spends much of his time at a San Diego hospital. “It takes a while to go through the treatment, for the doctors to make sure they have done absolutely everything they can,” he says.

The program had its genesis in November of 2009, when president Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13518. That order focused on employing veterans in the federal government. The following July, president Obama signed Executive Order 13548, which focused on increasing the number of federal employee hires with disabilities.

As for Miknaitis, he’s grateful for the experience, but learned that the FBI might not be for him.

“I want to be able to go home and talk about my work,” he says, “not to have to say, ‘well, I really can’t talk about that honey, that’s classified information.”

After much physical therapy and plastic surgery, Miknaitis is doing well and poised to begin school in the fall, possibly for sports medicine, he says.

“I actually got pretty lucky,” he says. “If you saw my face and my body after the injury, you would not think I would have come out looking this good afterword.” He remains deaf in his right ear, but he and his doctors have spoken about cochlear implants in the future.

More than 47,000 soldiers have been injured in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

 

Iraq, Afghan War Veterans Might Join Dept. of Homeland Security

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Department of Homeland Security official on Wednesday announced a plan to hire veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan to operate satellite communications, blimps and other surveillance tech at stateside southern borders, reports NextGov.

Drawdowns in troop levels and overseas actions will leave the Pentagon with more equipment and personnel on hand at the same time that the Department of Homeland Security seeks to build a “virtual fence” along the southwest border of the nation. DHS officials were invited to share their plans for using the military systems with a House subcommittee on Wednesday, NextGov reported.

“We’ve got a huge number of personnel coming out of the military as we wind down in theater in Iraq,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, said. “There’s an opportunity there to hire already trained DoD personnel to run these systems.”

To read more click here.

 

DEA Agent Shot in Head in Afghanistan: Expected to Survive

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A DEA agent who was shot in the head last week in Afghanistan during a mission remains hospitalized in suburban D.C., but is expected to survive, according to someone familiar with the situation.

Special agent Joe Piersante, a member of the Fast Team (Foreign Advisory Support Team), was seriously wounded in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

An internal memo from DEA Director Michele Leonhart said Piersante, working with “our International Security and Assistance Forces (ISAF) and Afghan law enforcement partners, FAST had just successfully executed a search warrant and were headed to their helicopter when they came under fire.”

He underwent extensive surgery after the shooting.

“Please keep Joe and all of his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers,” Leonhart wrote.

 

DEA Commando-Style Squads Operating Far Beyond the War Zone

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s commando style squads that were established during the Bush years to battle Taliban-linked drug traffickers in Afghanistan are operating in regions far beyond that war zone, field, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports that the DEA now has five commando-style squads that have been “quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels.”

“You have got to have special skills and equipment to be able to operate effectively and safely in environments like this,” said Michael A. Braun, a former head of operations for the drug agency who helped design the program, the Times reported. “The D.E.A. is working shoulder-to-shoulder in harm’s way with host-nation counterparts.”

To read the full story click here.