File:Ali Soufan FBI Image in Afghanistan.jpg
Ali H. Soufan (born 1971)[1] is a Lebanese-American FBI agent who was involved in a number of high-profile anti-terrorism cases both in the United States and around the world. He retired from the FBI in 2005 after publicly chastising the CIA for not sharing information with him which could have prevented the September 11th attacks. He is the CEO of the The Soufan Group.

Early yearsEdit

Soufan was born in Lebanon. He is an ardent admirer of the poet Khalil Gibran.[2]

FBI careerEdit

Soufan was called to Jordan in 1999 to investigate the Jordan Millennium Bombing plot, and discovered a box of documents delivered by Jordanian intelligence officials prior to the investigation, sitting on the floor of the CIA station, which contained maps showing the bomb sites. His find "embarrassed the CIA", according to a 2006 New Yorker profile of him.[3]

In 2000, he was put in charge of the investigation of the USS Cole bombing.[3] When given a transcript of the interrogations of Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, he noticed a reference to a one-legged Afghan named "Khallad", whom he remembered as a source identified years earlier as Walid bin 'Attash; this helped the FBI to track down Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.[3] Following the September 11th attacks, Soufan was one of eight FBI agents who spoke Arabic, and the only one in New York.[4] Colleagues reported that he would sit on the floor with suspects, offer them tea and arguing over religion and politics in fluent Arabic, while drawing out information.[2]

He was tasked with the "intensive interrogation" of Abu Jandal over the course of five days in Yemen, during which time Jundal gave up the names of a number of members of al-Qaeda.[5]

It was his questioning of Mohammed al Qahtani, that led to the terrorism charges against Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri in Chicago, whom al Qahtani had mentioned being a relative.[2]

In 2005, Soufan approached Florida doctor Rafiq Abdus Sabir and pretended to be an Islamist militant, and asked him whether he would provide medical treatment to wounded fighters in the Iraq War. [6] When Sabir agreed to provide medical treatment, he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment for supporting terrorism.[7]

Guantanamo interrogationsEdit

Soufan obtained a confession from Salim Hamdan, accused of being a driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. Soufan testified before his military tribunal that Hamdan was a hardened terrorist, with advance knowledge of the September 11th attacks.[8][9]

He also obtained a confession from Ali al-Bahlul, an al Qaeda propagandist and Bin Laden media secretary accused of making a video celebrating the Cole attacks, and testified at his military tribunal as well.[10]

Senate testimonyEdit

On May 14, 2009 Soufan testified in front the Senate Judicial Committee for their hearing on torture.[11] The hearing followed Obama's declassification of what is known as the "torture memos," [12] and Soufan's testimony was essentially the same as an op-ed he authored for The New York Times on April 22, 2009 entitled "My Tortured Decision", which was published shortly after the memos were released.

Most notably, he claimed in his testimony that his interrogation of Abu Zubaydah had resulted in actionable intelligence, such as the identity of convicted terrorist José Padilla; and that thereafter, when waterboarding was performed on Abu Zubaydah, the flow of intelligence stopped. Soufan's statement is contrary to the ones made in the "torture memos," that were intent on making a legal case in favor of and justification for the use of these techniques.

Soufan re-stated this claim in a September 5, 2009, New York Times op-ed.[13]

According to President George W. Bush's speechwriter Marc Thiessen, writing in the National Review in October 2009, both Soufan's testimony and his April 2009 New York Times op-ed are contradicted by CIA documents that state that Abu Zubaydah revealed the actionable intelligence only during the CIA's interrogation, which included rougher treatment than what the FBI had used.[14]


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