Two retired U.S. immigration officials who helped supervise the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui criticize the government’s $5 million reward to a flight instructor who shared what he knew about the al Qaida operative, reports McClatchy Newspapers. State Department and Justice Department officials who made the award last week are under fire for electing not to compensate two program managers at the Pan Am International Flight Academy. Both risked their jobs to tip the FBI to Moussaoui’s suspicious behavior. The ex-immigration officials wonder whether the reward to flight instructor Clarence Prevost was an attempt to deflect attention from the FBI’s bungling of an investigation that might have foiled the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The government alleged that Moussaoui was in flight training to become a suicide hijacker.
“It’s just so obscene, beyond comprehension,” said Charles Midby, who supervised two Minnesota immigration agents involved in Moussaoui’s arrest on Aug. 16, 2001. “I can understand why the Muslims view us as such a rotten and decadent society when we feel we have to give something like that to an American do his basic responsibility.” Mark Cangemi, who retired in 2006 as an agent in charge of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Minnesota and four other states, said he was told that even the FBI and ICE agents who supported an award for Prevost were taken aback by the amount. “I’m very concerned that whoever made the decision that this award should be $5 million has now made it into a lottery,” Cangemi said.