Career FBI agent Bassem Youssef told a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee Wednesday, "The FBI counter-terrorism division is ill-equipped to handle the terrorist threat we are facing." Youssef said that counter-terrorism agents and managers at FBI headquarters often lack basic knowledge about Middle Eastern culture, language and terrorists' ideology. The result is that agents are wasting resources chasing leads that more sophisticated observers would quickly dispense with. The time and energy expended on marginal cases has diverted resources from investigating more substantial threats, he said.
The son of immigrant Christian Egyptians and a decorated counter-terrorism agent, Youssef has long been the highest-ranking Arab American agent in the FBI and one of its few native Arabic speakers. He was passed over for promotions after the Sept. 11 attacks, and filed a lawsuit in 2003 claiming the bureau discriminated against him based on his ancestry.