Former FBI Agent Ali Soufan holds an old FBI weapon during an interview with AFP in New York City, on April 23, 2018. (AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL)
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Ali Soufan: The FBI's Lebanese Al-Qaeda hunterTo television viewers, he is the FBI agent who hunts down Al-Qaeda. But in real-life, Ali Soufan is just as extraordinary, a Muslim immigrant who fled war to live the American dream. With "The X-Files" big on television at the time, Soufan jokes that he was "more interested in aliens than terrorists".Instead, the only Arabic speaker on the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, he was thrust onto the front line in the hunt for Al-Qaeda after the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa and the 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen.He traveled the world conducting investigations and interrogating suspects, but U.S. intelligence proved ultimately unable to stop the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, among them Soufan's former boss.Soufan testified before U.S. Congress and presidential commissions, but opposed torture and left the FBI in 2005 . Two years later, he founded a security firm that works with governments all over the world.
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