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FBI Agent's star dims (More on Muslim agent who refused to tape fellow Muslims)
Dallas Morning News | 4/20/2003 | Steve McGonigle

Posted on 04/20/2003 10:25:01 AM PDT by sinkspur

Muslim was rising fast in agency until ex-wife's fraud allegations

Gamal Abdel-Hafiz wanted more from life than managing 7-Eleven stores in dangerous neighborhoods around Fort Worth. He yearned for a career in the law, something impressive. His dream was to be an FBI agent.

It seemed impossible, but it wasn't. The FBI desperately needed Arabic speakers to work in counterterrorism. A naturalized American from Egypt with a college degree and military experience fit the profile of an almost ideal job candidate.

In 1996, Mr. Abdel-Hafiz became perhaps the first immigrant Muslim to earn the badge of a special agent. He was so gung-ho that classmates at the FBI Academy affectionately dubbed him "G-Man," a venerable nickname for an agent.

If he had the look of a comer, it was apt. Not long after he joined the Dallas field office to work foreign counterterrorism cases, other FBI agents around the world were calling to tap his expertise. The director, Louis Freeh, knew him by his first name.

His stock was so high that the bureau brushed aside another agent's accusations of disloyalty and promoted Agent Abdel-Hafiz in early 2001 to a prized post in Saudi Arabia that normally would have gone to a more experienced agent.

When the FBI abruptly suspended the 44-year-old Muslim agent in February, critics speculated that the bureau was punishing him belatedly to repair an image battered by accusations that it had failed to prevent the 9-11 attacks.

The allegations that might have wrecked Gamal Abdel-Hafiz's FBI career, it turns out, are not so sensational. They involved a bitter ex-wife who suddenly became willing to spill what she called the truth about an old burglary and stolen gold chandeliers.

Bertie Abdel-Hafiz still struggled to cope with the 1996 divorce that cost her the husband she said she idolized. She was alone and unemployed while her ex had a great new job in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a new Muslim wife and young family.

One day early last year, FBI investigators knocked on the door of Ms. Abdel-Hafiz's North Richland Hills home. They wanted to ask a few questions as part of a five-year background update on Agent Abdel-Hafiz, a review that became standard for all agents after the FBI's embarrassments over agent-turned-spy Robert Hanssen.

Propelled by the pain that had been festering since he walked out, Ms. Abdel-Hafiz began talking. "I thought about how he had used me all of these years, and I got mad," she said. "I decided I wouldn't lie for him any longer."

She told investigators that in 1989 – when he was still dreaming of the FBI – her husband faked a break-in at their Roanoke home. He later collected $15,000 in insurance benefits and lied repeatedly in sworn statements to cover up the crimes, she said.

The FBI declined to comment about Agent Abdel-Hafiz other than to say he is under review by its professional conduct office. The agent, who has been assigned to the Dallas FBI office during his suspension and is required to stay in touch with officials there, could not be reached for comment.

A close friend, Mohamed Elmougy, said Agent Abdel-Hafiz told him that the investigation was triggered by his former wife's allegations – which he denied.

Mr. Elmougy, chairman of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, accused the FBI of a bigoted attempt to ruin a good agent.

"It does send a very negative message," he said. "You have the first [Muslim] FBI agent who's been very successful, and overnight he's gone from being praised for his work to being no good anymore."

Driven to succeed

Gamal Abdel-Hafiz came to America from Egypt to find a better life. Arriving in New York around 1980, he hoped to find work as a translator but ended up busing tables and delivering sandwiches, his ex-wife said. His deliveries often took him past the FBI office in Lower Manhattan, and he began to fantasize about becoming an agent.

"He thought that it would be prestigious," Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said.

It would take more than a decade for the future agent to accomplish his goal. During that time, he spent two years in the Egyptian Army and nine years working at service stations and convenience stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

He met Bertie Ann Martin in 1984, and they married the following year. She was a divorced, 42-year-old mother of two and a Christian. He was a 26-year-old Muslim immigrant without a permanent work permit.

Their marriage allowed Agent Abdel-Hafiz to become a permanent U.S. resident and, in 1990, obtain his citizenship, his former wife said.

Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said she adored her sensitive, handsome spouse, and he doted on her. "I always felt like a princess walking next to my king," she said.

Her husband worked hard and was well-regarded by his bosses, she said, but his attempts to start a business or get into law school failed. Money was a driving force in her husband's life, she said, and he loved to spend.

In November 1989, the Abdel-Hafizes reported a break-in at their home in southern Denton County and the theft of about $22,000 in property. The biggest losses were five gold-plated chandeliers newly purchased in Cairo, Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said.

Her husband decided to fake a break-in, Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said, to recoup some of the premiums they had paid on their homeowners insurance policy.

Their insurer refused to pay the claim, however, and in 1991, the Abdel-Hafizes filed suit. In one motion, attorneys for American National Property and Casualty Co. called the break-in "a staged theft" and accused the couple of fabricating receipts.

The case was settled in November 1994 – the year after Agent Abdel-Hafiz was hired by the FBI to work as a translator in its New York office. Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said the insurance company paid about $15,000.

Ed Anderson, a Bedford attorney who represented the Abdel-Hafizes, said there was never any evidence that they were involved in fraud. He said Ms. Abdel-Hafiz's allegations smacked of sour grapes.

"I'd say the United States is blessed to have him serve," Mr. Anderson said of Agent Abdel-Hafiz. "He is an A-1 fellow as far as I know."

Mr. Anderson and a Dallas attorney for American National said federal authorities have contacted them over the last several months about the case.

'I trusted him every day'

The FBI routinely searches court filings as part of its background check of prospective employees. The application form asks job candidates if they have ever been involved in a lawsuit. Not answering truthfully can mean criminal prosecution.

Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said the bureau conducted a lengthy background check before hiring her husband. Because the FBI isn't talking, it is not known whether the bureau overlooked the insurance lawsuit or did not consider it important.

As a translator, the future agent was involved in highly sensitive cases. The most high-profile was the case of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine militant Muslim followers who were accused of plotting a terrorist war on New York City.

As recently as December, the FBI hailed Agent Abdel-Hafiz's contribution to the successful prosecutions and the bravery he showed by testifying despite death threats.

He entered the FBI Academy immediately after the Abdel-Rahman trial ended in 1995. His former wife said he was touted at graduation as the first Muslim FBI agent.

"He was proud to be one of them," Ms. Abdel-Hafiz said.

It was the new agent's request that he be assigned to work on foreign counterterrorism cases in the Dallas field office.

A Dallas police detective who worked alongside Agent Abdel-Hafiz on a terrorism task force described him as diligent and dedicated. "I trusted him every day and had reason to do so," said Detective Charles Storey.

His work also brought him into contact with the FBI director. "Louis Freeh was really high on Gamal," Detective Storey said. "They were on a first-name basis."

Besides his regular duties, Agent Abdel-Hafiz also worked as a liaison to the North Texas Muslim community. His former boss, Danny Defenbaugh, said he helped make the Dallas office's relations with local Muslims the envy of the FBI.

The agent made no secret of his religion – he prayed regularly in the office – but juggling the obligations of his faith and his job were a burden, Detective Storey said.

"There's many that liked him. There's many that hated him, depending on which side of the fence you were on," the detective said.

Secret recordings

Sometimes, it was another FBI agent who was expressing disdain.

In 1999, Agent Robert Wright of the Chicago FBI office complained to his superiors that Agent Abdel-Hafiz had hindered his investigation of terrorist fund raising by refusing to make secret tape recordings of a grand jury witness.

The Dallas agent had notified the Chicago office that a friend asked him to talk with the president of an Islamic banking firm about Agent Wright's investigation.

The banking company was under FBI scrutiny because its investors included a top political leader of Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, and three people close to Osama bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

Agent Wright has said he asked Agent Abdel-Hafiz to record a conversation with the banking executive, but the agent refused to do so. In an affidavit prepared later, Agent Wright quoted his colleague as saying: "A Muslim does not record another Muslim."

The conversation with the banking executive never occurred. Less than a year later, Agent Wright has said, FBI officials ordered him to end his investigation because it might interfere with intelligence gathering.

The bureau has barred Agent Wright from giving interviews, his attorney said. But Agent Wright's former partner and a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the Chicago investigation have supported his statements about Agent Abdel-Hafiz.

Mr. Defenbaugh, who retired from the FBI in 2001, said he was the one who decided to refuse the tape-recording request. One of his concerns was the risk to Agent Abdel-Hafiz's effectiveness if other Muslims knew he had made secret recordings.

"At that time, he was the only Muslim agent in the entire FBI," Mr. Defenbaugh said. "There was no reason to compromise Gamal in that situation."

Agent Abdel-Hafiz filed a religious discrimination complaint accusing Agent Wright of making derogatory comments. Agent Wright has denied the allegations.

In February 2001, almost two years after the taping dispute, Agent Abdel-Hafiz was promoted to assistant legal attaché to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh.

The disagreement remained an internal matter until May, when a law firm representing Agent Wright in several whistle-blower actions revealed portions of his affidavit at a Washington, D.C., news conference.

Another FBI agent also alleged last year that Agent Abdel-Hafiz had refused in 1998 to record a Muslim suspect in a separate investigation of Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group. The agent in charge of the investigation into Sami Al-Arian, a University of South Florida professor, said he complained to the FBI, but no disciplinary action was taken.

Mr. Al-Arian and seven associates were indicted in February on federal charges of running Islamic Jihad in America.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: abdelhafiz; abdelrahman; alarian; antiamerican; cair; dallas; defenbaugh; fbi; fifthcolumn; fifthcolumnists; gamalabdelhafiz; hafiz; homelandsecurity; ij; islamicjihad; muslim; rahman; samialarian; texas; traitor; treason; unamerican; usf

1 posted on 04/20/2003 10:25:02 AM PDT by sinkspur
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To: sinkspur
The information in this report confirms what I had thought previously. Abdel-Hafiz is far too conflicted with dual loyalties to work for the Federal Government during wartime. He's a security risk. Foreign nationals do not belong on the payroll of the FBI.
2 posted on 04/20/2003 10:50:19 AM PDT by beckett
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To: beckett
He's a security risk. Foreign nationals do not belong on the payroll of the FBI.

Perhaps as informants but not as agents.

3 posted on 04/20/2003 11:03:07 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Rest in pieces Saddam!)
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To: sinkspur
Gamal Abdel-Hafiz came to America from Egypt to find a better life. Arriving in New York around 1980, he hoped to find work as a translator but ended up busing tables and delivering sandwiches, his ex-wife said. His deliveries often took him past the FBI office in Lower Manhattan, and he began to fantasize about becoming an agent.

It would take more than a decade for the future agent to accomplish his goal. During that time, he spent two years in the Egyptian Army and nine years working at service stations and convenience stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

How does a U.S. immigrant spend two years in the Egyptian army? By mail order?

4 posted on 04/20/2003 11:08:17 AM PDT by browardchad
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To: sinkspur
Mr. Elmougy, chairman of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, accused the FBI of a bigoted attempt to ruin a good agent.
\\\\\\\\\\

As usual, the troublemakers at CAIR are up to their no-good tricks, defending the indefensible.

Perhaps some FReepers would like to email the folks at CAIR and give them a piece of your mind at cair@cair-net.org.

Apparently, about the only moral outrage that the folks at CAIR can evince is when a Muslim is rightfully investigated, arrested, convicted, or incarcerated.
5 posted on 04/20/2003 11:17:08 AM PDT by BenR2 ((John 3:16: Still True Today.))
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To: BenR2
Thanks for the CAIR address. I will definitely tell them how the "cow ate the cabbage."

Right after 9-11-01, it was revealed that GWB had a secret service agent assigned to his presidential detail. This agent made the news for several nights after he was tossed of a domestic airline flight. There is a lot of evidence that muslims have a difficult time with divided loyalties. The FBI, and all branches of the US military, require their personnel swear allegiance to the US Constitution (religion is not part of the oath). This oath means nothing to a muslim if they detect a 'conflict' between the oath and their interpretation of islam.
6 posted on 04/20/2003 12:06:44 PM PDT by Tahoe3002
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To: beckett
Foreign nationals do not belong on the payroll of the FBI.
AMEN especially one driven by the pursuit of money (red flagger)
7 posted on 04/20/2003 12:15:25 PM PDT by TrueBeliever9
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To: Paleo Conservative
I couldn't agree more. He can be an informant.
NOT AN FBI AGENT.
8 posted on 04/20/2003 6:05:05 PM PDT by 2rightsleftcoast
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To: Tahoe3002
This oath means nothing to a muslim if they detect a 'conflict' between the oath and their interpretation of islam.

2 relevant answers from the muslim "Ask The Imam" site:

Is it allowed to obtain United States Citizenship so that travelling for deen becomes easier?

Question 5193 from United States:

They require you to promise to bear arms for the country. The oath of allegiance is as follows: The Oath of Allegiance I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. If they require or ask you to bear arms against a muslim country, what should be the response. Their laws are against 4 marraige law of Islaam. Does the pledge cause any "Ilhaad" or any such anti-islamic view? Please answer according to Hanafi Fiqh.

Answer:

1. If your intention is solely to facilitate easier travel, you are permitted to obtain US citizenship. Although the oath of allegiance is un-Islamic in nature, it will not be treated as an 'Islamic oath'. Therefore, you are not compelled to execute the oath.

2. If you are called up to bear arms against Muslims, you are not permitted to do so by Islamic law.

3. The pledge does not constitute Ilhaad.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Muhammad Kadwa
FATWA DEPT.

CHECKED AND APPROVED CORRECT: Mufti Ebrahim Desai

To become a citizen of US one has to take an oath of allegiance. is it ok to take the oath.

Question 8471 from United States

The oath of allegiance is as follows: I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. They also ask on the citizenship form the following questions: If the law requires it, are you willing to bear arms on behalf of US? If the law requires it, are you willing to perform noncombatant service in the US Armed Forces? If the law requires it, are you willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction? My question is can we answer yes to these questions? is there anything wrong in doing that. what should the answer be: yes or no? could you please kindly give an urgent answer. jazakallah.

Answer:

As Muslims, we are duty bound to follow our lives strictly according to Shari’ah. Whatever Shari’ah allows us to do, we will abide by that and whatever Shari’ah has restricted us from, we will refrain from it. Hence, we are not allowed to obey anybody if it is resulting in the disobedience of the Creator, Allah. Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘There is no obedience for the creation by disobeying the Creator.’ (Mirqaat vol.7 pg.217; Imdadiyyah).

Hence, keeping this in mind if one is forced to sign the above in order to become a citizen or the only way of attaining citizenship is by acknowledging the above, then one may sign it with the intention that Shari’ah and Deen will always be his yardstick and that he will never sacrifice any of the teachings of Deen.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

So basically, the oath is non-binding.

9 posted on 04/25/2003 3:12:08 AM PDT by weegee (NO BLOOD FOR RATINGS: CNN let human beings be tortured and killed to keep their Baghdad bureau open)
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To: Tahoe3002
I'm glad you brought that up about GW's Secret Service agent who was tossed off a flight, alledgely due to him being a muslim. I had a conversation with a coworker at the time. He said that the pilot was going to get fried. I said that the agent was going to get transferred to Alaska. Quietly, this news story disappeared. What happened to the agent? What happened to the pilot? I always thought that since the story disappeared, I was right about the agent's story being bogus. What say you?
10 posted on 04/25/2003 3:47:51 AM PDT by 7thson
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To: sinkspur
The FBI is clearly beyond reform. Time to close it down
and begin anew.
11 posted on 04/25/2003 3:57:00 AM PDT by Trickyguy
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