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Seven charged with conspiring to aid Taliban

NEW YORK CITY — Seven men, including two American citizens, were charged Monday with selling drugs and weapons in an effort to help the Taliban fight U.S. troops overseas.

Posing as representatives of the Taliban, cooperating witnesses for the Drug Enforcement Administration approached the men in Ghana last June, asking to set up a drug relationship, prosecutors said. First, the cooperators asked if they could buy large amounts of cocaine, according to court documents. Then, they asked if the men could set up safe places in West Africa to store heroin on its way from Afghanistan to the United States, Canada and Europe.

Terrorism charges were filed against Maroun Saade, Walid Nasir, Francis Sourou Ahissou, Corneille Dato, Martin Raouf Bouraima, Oded Orbach and Alwar Pouryan.

Prosecutors said the two U.S. citizens, Orbach and Pouryan, were arrested in Romania last week and are being held there while they await extradition to the United States. The others were arrested last week in Liberia, where they are in U.S. custody. All are expected to be prosecuted in New York.

As the drug relationship blossomed, the DEA also began negotiating to buy anti-aircraft missiles and automatic weapons, prosecutors said. Those inquiries led the DEA to Orbach and Pouryan, who discussed selling anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers and other weapons to the Taliban.