FBI WON'T GIVE FILE TO DOCTOR CLEARED OF TERRORIST TIES
- FBI WON'T GIVE FILE TO DOCTOR CLEARED OF TERRORIST TIES
Torsten Ove, Post-Gazette, 8/21/03
FBI won't give file to doctor questioned, cleared of terrorist ties
after Sept. 11 attacks
U.S. says file about former New Castle area resident holds classified
Thursday, August 21, 2003
By Torsten Ove, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
An FBI file on an Egyptian-born radiologist initially suspected of
having terrorist ties and later cleared will not be turned over to
his lawyer as part of a civil suit because it contains "classified
information" about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
U.S. Magistrate Francis Caiazza quashed a subpoena this week from a
lawyer demanding the government release the file on his client, Dr.
Basem Moustafa Hussein, who most recently was living in Coraopolis.
On Sept. 11, 2001, FBI agents searched Hussein's apartment near New
Castle after his landlord said she saw "suspicious" items there.
Authorities exonerated Hussein a few weeks later, but he sued the
landlord. As part of that lawsuit, his lawyer, Craig Fishman, wanted
the FBI to hand over its files on the investigation, but the agency
In court papers, the U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh and the FBI
said the file would reveal secret information, including the identity
of a "confidential source."
In a letter to Fishman in the spring, Pittsburgh FBI Chief Division
Counsel Jeff Killeen said releasing details about the investigation
could "interfere with enforcement proceedings -- including, but not
limited to, one case related to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, that is
proceeding to trial later this year."
That case involves Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker"
who is the only person facing trial in a U.S. court for conspiring to
carry out the Sept. 11 attacks.
The FBI file on Hussein has been turned over to the Moussaoui defense
team as part of the discovery process in that case. Assistant U.S.
Attorney Paul Brysh in Pittsburgh said prosecutors can't comment on
Mary E. Galligan, an FBI assistant inspector and lead investigator
on "PENTTBOM," the code name for the Sept. 11 probe, said in court
documents that releasing the file would show how the FBI has been
"The information contained in these files, if released to the
plaintiff or the public, could jeopardize ongoing and possible future
counterterrorism investigations by alerting individuals they are of
interest to the FBI," she wrote.
Fishman couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.
Hussein's lawsuit blames Sherri Lynn Wilson, his former apartment
manager, and her employer, Universal Development Management Inc. of
Ohio, for all of his problems.
Within hours of the Sept. 11 attacks, Wilson walked into Hussein's
unit in Neshannock Township, saw items that she thought were
suspicious and called state police. The FBI arrived and searched the
apartment based on an affidavit prepared by Special Agent Denise
Hussein said he was questioned repeatedly, lost his job in New Mexico
and was evicted from his apartment before the U.S. attorney's office
exonerated him. He said Egyptian police also ransacked his parents'
apartment in Egypt at the request of U.S. authorities, causing
$200,000 in damage.
Hussein's lawsuit says Wilson started the whole thing by mistaking a
computer game for terrorist plans. Wilson told authorities she
saw "an expensive computer," a flight manual for a Boeing 737 and a
compact disc jacket that showed a jetliner blowing up in the sky.
Hussein said the manual was an instruction booklet for a computer
game and the CD jacket was part of the package for it.
The FBI is not party to the lawsuit, but Fishman said he needed to
depose Valentine and review the information that led to her search
warrant affidavit. He said he also wanted any information about a
videotape Wilson said she saw called "How to Make a Bomb."
After Killeen rebuffed him, Fishman sent the FBI the subpoena. The
FBI did eventually turn over some documents, such as its interviews
of Hussein, notes and an inventory of items taken in the search, but
agents kept the other documents related to the investigation.
Hussein couldn't be reached yesterday, but after his exoneration in
2001 he said he was relieved.
"They asked a lot of biographical information," he said then. "We
went into whether I knew certain individuals and whether I am a
member of al-Qaida. I haven't been involved in supporting any
activity or funding any activity like that or even conversing with
anyone about committing such a thing. I am innocent."
(Torsten Ove can be reached at tove@... or 412-263-2620.)
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