Manhattan U.S. Attorney announces extradition of OFAC- sanctioned Afghan man for Narco-Terrorism offenses
NEW YORK - Christopher Tersigni, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration Special Operations Division and Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the extradition of Haji Abdul Satar Abdul Manaf, aka “Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai,” for attempting to import heroin into the United States, engaging in narco-terrorism for the benefit of the Taliban, and attempting to engage in narco-terrorism for the benefit of the Haqqani Network. Manaf was taken into custody by Estonian authorities in Tallinn, Estonia, on Oct. 9, 2018, and extradited to the United States today. Manaf will be presented in Manhattan federal court later today. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Paul A. Crotty.
“This action highlights the DEA’s ability to hold accountable not only those who reside within our borders, but also those operating in other countries,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Tersigni. “Drug traffickers that bring harm to the citizens of this country must answer for their unlawful activities that have fueled the opioid epidemic.”
“As alleged, Manaf, already sanctioned by the Treasury Department for assisting the Taliban, attempted to import large quantities of heroin into the U.S., funneled heroin trafficking proceeds to the Taliban, and attempted to provide financial assistance to the Haqqani terrorist network,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. “Thanks to the DEA and international law enforcement partners, Manaf is in the U.S. and facing justice in this District.”
According to the allegations contained in the complaint and indictment which were unsealed today:
In June 2012, the United States Treasury Department sanctioned Manaf pursuant to the United States’ terrorism sanctions authority, Executive Order No. 13224, for storing or moving money for the Taliban through his money remitting business, the Haji Khairullah Haji Sattar Money Exchange.
Beginning in January 2018, Manaf attempted to import large quantities of heroin into the United States; used the proceeds of heroin trafficking to benefit the Taliban; and attempted to provide financial support to the Haqqani Network. Specifically, Manaf participated in in-person meetings, recorded telephone calls, and electronic communications with five men whom Manaf understood to be affiliated with an international drug trafficking organization. During those meetings, Manaf helped arrange to import large quantities of heroin into the United States with the assistance of – and recognizing that some of the proceeds of that narcotics trafficking would be provided to – the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. Four of these men were, in fact, DEA confidential sources. The fifth was an undercover DEA agent (the “UC”).
The Haqqani Network and the Taliban have been and are engaged in highly public acts of terrorism against U.S. interests, including U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. In August 2018, Manaf sold the UC a 10-kilogram shipment of heroin in Afghanistan, after the UC told Manaf that the heroin would ultimately be imported into the United States for sale in New York. Manaf repeatedly told the UC that Manaf had paid the Taliban in connection with the production of the 10 Kilo Shipment, and reported that armed members of the Taliban would guard and transport future heroin shipments for Manaf and the UC. In August 2018, Manaf facilitated the transfer of thousands of dollars of what he believed to be narcotics proceeds to individuals Manaf had been advised were members of the Haqqani Network. Manaf subsequently agreed to supply the UC with thousand-kilogram loads of heroin for importation into the United States.
The indictment charges Manaf, 53, a citizen of Afghanistan, in three counts: (1) attempting to import heroin into the United States, (2) narco-terrorism, and (3) attempted narco-terrorism. If convicted, Manaf faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison on Count One, and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of counts two and three. The statutory minimum and maximum sentences are prescribed by congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division’s Bilateral Investigations Unit; the DEA European Regional Director; the DEA Copenhagen, Canberra, Dubai, Islamabad, Kabul, New Delhi, and Sydney Country Offices; the Government of Estonia; and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The defendant’s arrest and subsequent extradition are also the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebekah Donaleski and Kimberly J. Ravener are in charge of the prosecution.
The allegations contained in the complaint and the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Complaint and Indictment and the descriptions of the Complaint and Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.