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The case against former professor Sami al-Arian turned a bit more strange yesterday when the US government revealed in a court motion that al-Arian had briefly worked as an FBI informant:
Federal prosecutors say a former professor accused of financing terrorism was briefly an FBI informant, according to court documents. The disclosure came in the government's response to efforts by lawyers for Sami Al-Arian to obtain the taped conversations the former University of South Florida professor had with congressmen and top aides in the Bush and Clinton administrations.
His status as an informant, apparently confirmed by both sides now in these court motions, raises some uncomfortable questions for the FBI and some government officials. First, Congress will want to know why the FBI felt it necessary to tape conversations between their members and al-Arian. Did the FBI suspect one or more of them of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations? Next, the 9/11 Commission may be interested to hear about al-Arian's bugged contacts with Clinton and Bush "top aides". Did the FBI suspect a mole in the executive branch, and if so, did they ever find one?
The FBI also needs to answer for its selection of al-Arian as an informant while he raised funds for terrorist groups right under their nose. It appears that al-Arian was no run-of-the-mill tipster during his brief relationship with the feds; if he allowed himself to be bugged for certain meetings, then the level of interaction was fairly high. Moreover, part of the evaluation of intelligence data comes from researching the source rather carefully. Why didn't their background checks reveal al-Arian's ties to Islamic Jihad earlier?
With all of the news coming from Fallujah, this story slipped below the radar, but if we are to make sure that terrorists don't get a toehold here in the US, we need answers to these questions.Sphere It View blog reactions
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