Joel Mowbray

Despite using a sham marriage to fraudulently obtain citizenship and having multiple personal connections to a suspected Hezbollah financier, Nada Nadim Prouty, a 37-year-old illegal alien from Lebanon, rose quickly through the FBI, then later the CIA.

While at the FBI, Prouty conducted unauthorized searches to see what law enforcement had on her, her sister (who is now in jail for tax evasion) and her sister's husband, a suspected Hezbollah financier, who is now on the lam. From her plea agreement earlier this month, where she pleaded guilty to three counts, we also know that Prouty illegally accessed top-secret FBI information about an investigation into Hezbollah.

So why are the Feds downplaying the case? And why is much of the mainstream media playing along? Most important, why is she going to do less jail time than many petty thieves?

Given the major lapses exposed by this embarrassing episode, the FBI and CIA understandably want the story to go away. With the mainstream media, it appears to be part of a much larger problem, wherein the threat of domestic Islamist terrorism is largely ignored.

Here's the backstory: Prouty came to America in 1989 on a student visa. After it expired the next year, she schemed to stay in the country by marrying a U.S. citizen. The two never lived together and did not consummate the marriage. She received her citizenship in 1994, and divorced her paper husband in 1995.

When the FBI went looking for more Arabic speakers, Prouty was snapped up in 1999. But this is where the stunning series of security breaches begins.

How did the top-secret security clearance process not pick up a phony marriage where she had done very little to cover her tracks? Consider that, according to the Detroit Free-Press, she never paid her contractual husband the promised several hundred dollars.

It appears the reason that neither the FBI nor the CIA detected that the first husband was just a pawn in her fraud is simple: They never talked to him. The Free-Press quoted the man's current wife saying that the first they've heard from law enforcement was just a few months ago.

Prouty didn't wait long to break the law. In September 2000 — one month after her sister, Elfat El Aouar, married suspected Hezbollah financier Talal Khalil Chahine — Prouty checked the FBI database to see what the agency had on herself, her sister and her new brother-in-law. Mr. Chahine, as it happens, had a pre-existing relationship with Prouty, serving as her boss in the early 1990s and filing a statement testifying to the validity of her fake marriage.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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