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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hezbollah: Signs of a Sophisticated Intelligence Apparatus

This Stratfor terrorism report reveals a compelling, chilling example of Cultural Jihad at work in America. Cultural Jihad is Jihad by means other than violent ones, whose purpose is to weaken and undermine a culture from within in order to eventually make that culture ripe for Islamic subjugation. Cultural Jihad is well-advanced in countries in Western Europe (see Londonistan, by Melanie Phillips) and books such as Infiltration by Paul Sperry document the degree to which Cultural Jihad is underway in America. The lesson for all of us is this – Islamofascism is about much more than overt acts of terrorism.

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

On Dec. 4, Samar Spinelli, a U.S. Marine captain, pleaded guilty in U.S. district court in Detroit to conspiring to commit citizenship and passport fraud. By pleading guilty, Spinelli admitted to having conspired with her former roommate, Nada Nadim Prouty, to fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship. Prouty, a former FBI agent and CIA case officer, pleaded guilty in the same court in November to accessing a federal computer system to obtain information about the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, among other charges. Spinelli's other former roommate, Elfat El Aouar -- Prouty's sister -- is serving an 18-month prison sentence for tax evasion. All three women were born in Lebanon.

The evidence, allegations and related cases suggest that Hezbollah has established a sophisticated intelligence apparatus that reaches into the United States. [emphasis added]. Moreover, it is possible -- though certainly not proven -- that Spinelli and Prouty used their positions in government agencies to provide Hezbollah with sensitive information. If these women were indeed Hezbollah plants, the magnitude of the information they provided to Hezbollah and Iran could be similar in importance to the information Robert Hanssen provided to the Soviets and Russians -- and the damage could prove to be just as great.

The Web

Although the network of interpersonal relations and sham marriages muddle the story, the evidence appears as follows:

One of the three former roommates, El Aouar, is married to fugitive Talal Chahine, an alleged Hezbollah financial operative who is believed to be hiding in Lebanon. Chahine was charged in 2006 in the Eastern District of Michigan with tax evasion in connection with a scheme to conceal more than $20 million in cash received by a chain of restaurants he owns and routing those funds to "persons in Lebanon." In October 2007, Chahine, along with a senior Immigrations and Customs Enforcement official in Detroit and several other people, was charged in a bribery and extortion conspiracy in which federal immigration benefits allegedly were awarded to illegal aliens in exchange for money that also apparently ended up in Hezbollah's coffers.

According to court documents, Spinelli, whose maiden name was Khalil Nabbouh, entered the United States from Lebanon on a student visa in 1989. After her arrival, she lived in Taylor, Mich., with sisters Elfat El Aouar and Nada Nadim El Aouar (who would later become Nada Prouty). The El Aouar sisters also had entered the United States on student visas, and had failed to return to Lebanon once their studies ended.

On April 13, 1990, Spinelli entered into a fraudulent marriage with Jean Paul Deladurantaye in order to remain in the United States and obtain U.S. citizenship. On Aug. 9, 1990, Spinelli then facilitated Prouty's fraudulent marriage to Chris Deladurantaye, the brother of Spinelli's sham husband.

Spinelli enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1990 and, after receiving her citizenship, divorced Deladurantaye and married a fellow Marine, Capt. Gary Spinelli, in 1995. Commissioned as a Marine officer in 1997, Spinelli rose to the rank of captain and was awarded several decorations. She reportedly was serving her second tour of duty in Iraq when she was called back to face the fraud charges.

Meanwhile, Prouty worked as a waitress at one of Chahine's restaurants as she earned a bachelor's degree from Detroit Business College. After gaining her U.S. citizenship in 1994, she moved to Pennsylvania to pursue an MBA at Bloomsburg University. While at Bloomsburg, she met and married Andrew Alley, who had served as a Marine during Operation Desert Storm. In 1997, the FBI hired Prouty as an agent and assigned her to the FBI's Washington field office, where she worked on an extraterritorial squad investigating crimes against U.S. persons overseas -- terrorism cases. As part of her duties, she investigated the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the 2002 assassination of American diplomat Laurence Foley, in Amman, Jordan. In 2000, Prouty divorced Alley and later married Foreign Service officer Gordon Prouty, who had served at U.S. embassies in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Cairo, Egypt.

Knowing Nada Prouty from her work as an FBI agent working terrorism cases, the CIA hired her in 2003, and she became an agency case officer. She reportedly was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and participated in a number of interrogations of high-value suspects, including captured al Qaeda members. When the CIA learned of Prouty's immigration fraud in December 2005, the agency reportedly moved her to a less sensitive language-training post.

Elfat El Aouar also was involved in a sham marriage in 1990 and, like her sister, went on to earn an MBA. She became the financial manager of the La Shish restaurants and married La Shish owner Chahine in 2000. She was convicted on tax evasion charges and sentenced in May 2007. A third sister, Rula Nadim El Aouar, also has been charged with immigration fraud as a result of her 1992 sham marriage to a man who worked as a dishwasher at a La Shish restaurant. It was the investigation into the activities of Chahine and El Aouar that eventually led authorities to Prouty and Spinelli.

The Potential Blowback

Although there is no evidence at this point that Prouty and Spinelli worked on behalf of Hezbollah, we cannot ignore the fact that the U.S. government has produced evidence that Prouty's sister and Chahine attended an August 2002 Hezbollah fundraiser in Lebanon -- during which Chahine was seated in a position of honor at the right hand of Hezbollah's spiritual leader, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah.

Additionally, Prouty did admit in her guilty plea that in September 2000 she used the FBI's computerized Automated Case System (ACS) without authorization to look up her own name, her sister's name and that of Chahine. Prouty also admitted that in June 2003 she accessed the ACS to obtain information relating to an FBI national security investigation into Hezbollah -- though she had not been officially assigned to work any Hezbollah cases.

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