A Yemeni man who set himself on fire in front of the White House on Monday and survived was the main informer for federal prosecutors in a terrorism financing case in Brooklyn, lawyers involved in the case told the New York Times. The man, Mohamed Alanssi, was recovering yesterday in a Washington hospital with extensive burns after law enforcement officers wrestled him to the ground about 2 p.m. on Monday near the White House’s northwest gate and doused the flames.
He had been expected to be a central witness in a trial in Brooklyn federal court scheduled for January in which prosecutors have charged that a prominent Yemeni cleric used mosques in Brooklyn and elsewhere to raise millions of dollars for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Alanssi, who had been paid $100,000 for his information and help in the investigation, had grown increasingly irritated in recent weeks at his treatment by the U.S. government and had threatened suicide in a letter, which was obtained by the Washington Post. He wrote, “Why don’t you care about my life and my family’s life?”