Project Description

Bassem Youssef is currently a retired Unit Chief in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterterrorism Division. He coordinated major investigations into Middle Eastern terrorist groups commencing in the late 1980s. He speaks fluent Arabic and is the highest ranking Arabic-American counterterrorism official with this skill. In 1994, he earned the Intelligence Community’s prestigious and coveted National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, awarded by the Director of Central Intelligence. The award was for outstanding accomplishments in a terrorism case involving an al-Qaeda-related investigation.

After obtaining the DCI award, he was selected by the former FBI Director Louis Freeh to head the FBI’s overseas office with responsibility for Saudi Arabia and the contiguous Gulf States, including UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain and Qatar. The FBI’s internal inspection of that office, conducted in 2000, highly praised Mr. Youssef’s performance.

Rather than utilizing his experience and expertise, he was sidelined in the FBI’s role in counterterrorism even as the FBI was publicly claiming a shortage of Arabic speaking agents. Mr. Youssef reported this and other deficiencies in the FBI’s counterterrorism division, and as a result, he experienced discriminatory retaliation.

Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto has represented Mr. Youssef in the discrimination and retaliation claims. In July 2006, the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that the FBI illegally retaliated against Mr. Youssef because he had made whistleblower disclosures to the Director of the FBI and a Member of Congress. Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto currently represent Mr. Youssef in his ongoing suits in Federal Court. His case is ongoing.

Despite a warning from his superiors, FBI Special Agent Bassem Youssef answered questions at a January 12 session of the ALA Midwinter Meeting. In 2002, Youssef blew the whistle to the director of the FBI and Congress the discriminatory practices within the Bureau were undermining the effectiveness of America’s counterterrorism efforts. In this video, Youssef and Stephen Kohn discuss his case, talk about the abuse of National Security Letters following the Passage of the Patriot Act, and speak of Abu Ghraib as an example of the U.S. failure to understand Middle Eastern culture.

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