DETROIT — An illegal immigrant from Lebanon who became an agent for the FBI and CIA allegedly used her access to sensitive U.S. government secrets to help her brother-in-law, a suspected major fundraiser for the terrorist group Hezbollah, according to new details concerning a national security breach that emerged Wednesday.
In court documents and interviews, federal authorities said that as part of a criminal conspiracy, Nada Nadim Prouty, 37, illegally accessed top-secret FBI investigative files on five occasions and most likely shared the information with the suspected Hezbollah operative. When she pleaded guilty to unauthorized computer access and naturalization fraud charges three weeks ago, authorities revealed only that Prouty had accessed the FBI’s Hezbollah files once, and said nothing about her sharing information about ongoing investigations with anyone else.
On Wednesday, prosecutors said Prouty illegally accessed the FBI’s Hezbollah investigative files in 2002 and 2003, at a time when she was a Washington, D.C.-based FBI field agent who was not working Hezbollah cases. Prouty accessed them electronically, “without authorization and in excess of her authorized access,” the prosecutors said in a court filing.
At the time, her sister’s husband, Talal Khalil Chahine, 51, was under investigation by the FBI in Detroit for his suspected ties to Hezbollah. The Lebanon-based group was designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization in 1997.
The Detroit suburb of Dearborn is home to the largest Lebanese community outside of Lebanon, and for years the FBI’s Detroit field office has had numerous investigations underway into Hezbollah’s fundraising network here. Authorities say the group is supported by donations from wealthy local supporters and a wide array of criminal activities.
Authorities now believe Prouty was illegally accessing the FBI files to determine for Chahine and perhaps others what the FBI knew about the group’s presence here, and that she accessed an investigative file on Chahine, according to the court filing and interviews. At the time, Chahine was suspected of raising large sums of money for Hezbollah within the local community and of meeting with top Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon.