Cannistraro, Apologist: Then and Now
by Steven Emerson
November 20, 2007
Vince Cannistraro, an ex-CIA counterterror chief, said Prouty was worried for her sister Elfat, who married accused Hezbollah fund-raiser Talal Khalil Chahine.
Prouty had worked as a waitress in Chahine's Detroit cafes before joining the FBI, and he helped vouch for her sham marriage in a 1992 letter to immigration authorities. In pleading guilty, she admitted searching bureau files for his name, her sister's and her own in 2000.
"It looks more like she was concerned about her brother-in-law being involved in Hezbollah and was legitimately worried about her sister," Cannistraro said.
Cannistraro has a history of defending despicable behavior, harmful to America's national security. Famously, Cannistraro was a long-time apologist for now-convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami al-Arian, even going so far as writing a letter on Al-Arian's behalf after the University finally terminated him for repeatedly lying about his ties to the terrorist group:
Dear President Judy Genshaft,
I was surprised by your decision to terminate al-Arian's employment at the University. You have essentially caved in to the hysteria that is being promoted by some irresponsible media, including the Fox program, O'Reilly Factor. That was one of the worse pieces of "yellow journalism" I have ever seen. There is no connection between anything al-Arian is or was connected to that has any bearing whatsoever on the events of 9/11. I am a professional in the field of counterterrorism, having served both as Director of Intelligence Programs in the Reagan Administration and as CIA's Chief of Counterterrorism Operations. Your action is both a blow to academic freedom and, dare I say it, a cowardly act that reflects poorly on both the University and your own lack of convictions.
Vincent M. Cannistraro McLean, VA
Think about that for a second. Just how scary is it that the former top CIA Counterterrorism official publicly went on the record to protect the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)? At the time of Al-Arian's firing, the evidence of his ties to PIJ, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, was overwhelming.
Amongst other damning evidence, Al-Arian personally brought Ramadan Abdullah Shallah to direct his "think tank," the World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), signing Shallah's immigration paperwork. Shallah is currently the Secretary General of PIJ, located in Damascus. The FBI is offering a $5 million reward for "for information leading directly to (Shallah's) apprehension or conviction."
After then-PIJ Secretary General Fathi Shikaki was killed in Malta, Shallah left Tampa and WISE to succeed Shikaki in PIJ's top role. After Shallah's departure, worried over negative news coverage, Al-Arian and WISE issued an incredibly disingenuous press release stating that Shallah (referring to him as "Dr. Abdullah") had left to "write a book on Islamic banking, as well as to tend to his sick father who passed away." These are obviously incredibly blatant and suspicious lies that a former CIA Counterterrorism Chief should have been able to easily uncover.
Of course, now we know that Cannistraro is unconcerned when individuals with connections to terrorists lie, even when they are in positions of public trust involving national security. Indeed, Cannistraro is so unconcerned in general with the security of our nation, in fact, that he agreed to serve as a defense witness in the terrorism case of infamous Egyptian "Blind Cleric" Omar Abdul Rahman, but was thankfully disqualified by the judge - now Attorney General Mukasey.
According to a letter written by Rahman's defense team (lead by the now-convicted and disbarred Lynne Stewart) in support of his testimony, Cannistraro's "expert opinion" was that Sheikh Rahman "has never been viewed as a threat to the institutions or the U.S. government within U.S. boundaries and further, any such focus would be contrary to and dilute Dr. Abdel Rahman's Egyptian agenda." Abdul Rahman, spiritual leader of the terrorist cell that attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, is serving a life sentence for his part in a plotting terrorist attacks in New York City.
During the trial, Al-Arian's own defense attorney was forced to concede that Al-Arian "was affiliated with the cultural, charitable arm of the PIJ, and he lied to the media about it…" Al-Arian pled guilty to "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist."
Just as Cannistraro was not worried about Al-Arian's actions, he is not bothered by Prouty's. Cannistraro's track record clearly demonstrates that if he's not disturbed by apparent illicit and suspicious behavior, the rest of the counterterrorism community, and the American people, should be disturbed.