FBI Agent Probed After Criticizing Bureau

ByABC News
June 19, 2003, 6:50 PM

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FBI Agent Probed After Criticizing Bureau

By Vic Walter, Brian Ross, and Maddy Sauer

June 12 A 12-year veteran FBI agent is under investigation for alleged insubordination following his appearances on ABCNEWS programs and a recent press conference in Washington, D.C., in which he criticized the bureau's efforts to combat terrorism, according to the agent's attorney.

Special Agent Robert Wright first went public last year on PrimeTime Thursday and told ABCNEWS Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross that he believes the FBI has failed to safeguard the United States from terrorist attacks.

"Sept. 11 is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit," Wright said. "No doubt about that. Absolutely no doubt about that."

Wright began tracking terrorists in the Chicago area in the mid-1990s for the Terrorism Task Force. He says he soon became frustrated when he was ordered by his superiors at the FBI Intelligence Division not to make any arrests of suspected terrorists.

According to Wright, he was ordered to drop his investigation into a suspected terror financier whose name had arisen during the investigation into the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, in which at least 224 people were killed.

Wright and his partner John Vincent, who has since retired from the FBI, said that the money trail uncovered in the embassy bombing probe led to, among others, a powerful Saudi Arabian businessman, Yassin Qadi, who had extensive business and financial ties in Chicago.

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"Two months after the embassies are hit in Africa they want to shut down the criminal investigation. They wanted to kill it," Wright said on PrimeTime.

The decision to close the investigation into Qadi outraged the federal prosecutor in Chicago, Mark Flessner, who said that Wright and Vincent were in the midst of helping him build a strong criminal case against Qadi.

Qadi has repeatedly denied any connection to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or any terrorist groups. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, however, Qadi was placed on the U.S. Treasury Department's watch list, which names people whose assets have been frozen because they are suspected of having terror links.

"There were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let it happen. And it didn't happen," Flessner said.

Just last week, Wright appeared on World News Tonight and Good Morning America and after ABCNEWS discovered that two men allegedly linked to the terrorist group Hamas were living in the United States.

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