The sister-in-law of Hizballah-linked fugitive Talal Chahine pled guilty today to fraudulently obtaining her citizenship, and using her illegally acquired status to attain employment with both the FBI and CIA.
Nadia Nadim Prouty, aka Nadia Nadim Al Aouar, came to the U.S. in 1990 on a non-immigrant visa, overstayed her visa and entered into a fraudulent marriage in Michigan to a U.S. citizen. Prouty submitted a series of fraudulent affidavits, notably from her sister Elfat Al Aouar and her husband, Talal Chahine, attesting to the validity of Prouty's marriage. According to the federal government, "As planned, [Prouty] never lived as husband and wife with her fraudulent ‘husband' and the marriage was never consummated sexually."
But Prouty did use her newly gained citizenship to get a job as a Special Agent with the FBI, which requires U.S. citizenship for employment, in 1999. Prouty was given a security clearance and tasked to the FBI's Washington Field Office.
According to prosecutors in the Eastern District of Michigan, Prouty used FBI computers – absent authorization – to run searches on herself, her sister and her brother in law, Elfat Al Aouar and Talal Chahine, owners of the popular Michigan-based restaurant chain, La Shish.
In May 2006, Chahine and Al Aouar were charged with tax evasion, with some of the proceeds allegedly funneled to Hizballah. As part of that case, the government asserted, in a written proffer of evidence (in U.S.A. v. Elfat El Aouar, Cr. No. 06-20248, EDMI, 5/22/2006) that Chahine and his wife attended a fundraising event in Lebanon in August 2002 with Hizballah Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a Specially Designated Terrorist (see page 8), where the two men were the keynote speakers.
The proffer also claims that a search of El Aouar's residence turned up a "thank you letter" for sponsoring 40 "orphans," as well as images of Chahine and his family in front of a Hizballah outpost. According to the proffer,
"[t]he government is aware that the sponsorship of orphans is a euphemism used by Hizballah to refer to the orphans of martyrs. This is a common public relations and recruitment tool used by Hizballah. Hizballah gains favor with the public in Lebanon by supporting ‘orphans,' while at the same time recruiting others into the terrorist organization willing to sacrifice their lives in terrorist operations based in part on the promise that Hizballah will take care of their families."
Chahine is also connected to the Hizballah-linked charity al-Mabarrat, founded by Sheikh Fadlallah, still operating out of Dearborn, Michigan.
In 2003, Prouty resigned her position with the FBI and began working for the CIA – where U.S. citizenship is also a prerequisite for employment. Prouty is facing more than 15 years in prison and $600,000 in fines for her crimes. The maximum penalty for Prouty's crimes include over 15 years in prison and $600,000 in fines, but her plea deal includes sentencing guidelines recommending between a 6 and 12 months in prison and automatic loss of citizenship.