IRS Employing Convict Prosecuted for Tipping Off Al-Qaeda Suspect, Wrecking Terrorism Investigation
Prepare to be enraged — make that more enraged — over the IRS.
At PJM, my buddy Patrick Poole breaks important news: It turns out that while the tax agency was targeting conservative groups for special investigative scrutiny, it was also giving a pass to a terrorism facilitator: The IRS hired, and is reportedly to this day still employing as a “financial-management analyst,” a former police officer who had been convicted by the Justice Department for tipping off a terrorism suspect — a close associate of top al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki — to the FBI’s surveillance of the suspect.
Weiss Russell (he has changed his name from “Weiss Rasool,” the name under which he was convicted), is currently employed as a Financial Management Analyst in the IRS Deputy Chief Financial Officer’s office.
In 2008, Russell/Rasool was prosecuted for his role in tipping off Abdullah Alnoshan, a close associate of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a friend of Russell’s from their mosque. According to the Justice Department’s Statement of Facts filed at the time of Russell’s indictment, Alnoshan provided license plate numbers to Russell for cars he believed were conducting surveillance on him. Russell then checked those plate numbers in the FBI’s NCIC database, which came back to a leasing company which federal prosecutors claimed would have tipped off Russell to the bureau’s surveillance.
He left a phone message for Alnoshan that the FBI intercepted.
Alnoshan, after being caught destroying evidence, was eventually deported to Saudi Arabia — deportation is not unusual when a suspected foreign terrorist cannot be successfully prosecuted for a terrorism offense because of problems in the investigation. Rasool/Russell pled guilty in 2008 to an offense involving illegal use of the database. Although the government sought a jail sentence, the judge gave him only two years’ probation.
To get hired at the IRS, Rasool/Russell would have had to complete the standard federal form and be subjected to a background investigation. As an unidentified official tells PJM, “There’s no way anyone with his conviction for abusing access to a government database and damaging a terror investigation could have been vetted and approved without outside intervention. Changing his name shouldn’t have mattered.”
Read Patrick’s story here.
Apparently following the Lois Lerner strategy, the IRS has so far not responded to his questions about Rasool/Russell.