The Justice Department has concluded there is “reasonable cause” to believe that senior FBI officials retaliated against the bureau’s highest-ranking Arabic speaker for complaining that he was cut out of terrorism cases despite his expertise, reports the Washington Post. An internal investigation found “sufficient circumstantial evidence” that Special Agent Bassem Youssef was blocked from a counterterrorism assignment in 2002 after he and a Virginia congressman met with FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to discuss Youssef’s complaints.
Mueller had approved a transfer for Youssef just days before the meeting, but it never occurred and Youssef was never informed of Mueller’s decision, according to the report. Investigators also said the FBI “has provided no rationale” for its failure to promote Youssef, although one former senior FBI manager said Mueller was “appalled” that Youssef had complained to a congressman about his treatment. The FBI declined to comment, citing an ongoing lawsuit by Youssef alleging discrimination based on national origin. The 12-page report represents another setback for the FBI as it struggles to attract Arabic speakers and informants in its fight against Islamic extremists.