One of FBI's 'Most Valuable, Vilified' Informants Speaks

Emad Salem comes out of hiding
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2014 8:50 AM CDT
One of FBI's 'Most Valuable, Vilified' Informants Speaks
The cover of Emad Salem's book.   (Amazon)

As an undercover informant for the FBI in the early '90s, Emad Salem infiltrated the terrorist cell behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, ultimately becoming head of security for Omar Abdel Rahman, the "blind sheik." In 1995, his testimony led to the convictions of Abdel Rahman and another leader in connection with a plot to blow up NYC landmarks. Moments after Salem left the stand, he and his family went into the federal witness protection program, and he's been virtually unheard from since—until now. "It is time for me to talk," Salem tells the Los Angeles Times, which calls him "one of the FBI's most valuable—and vilified—government informants." (His relationship with the FBI apparently wasn't so hot, and he was said to secretly tape his handlers.) Says Salem, "I was shut up for 20-some years."

During that time, the now-64-year-old has gone through the $1 million he says the US government gave him and was removed from the protection program when his sister returned to Egypt, with officials fearing his location could leak through her. During his years in hiding, Salem changed his appearance multiple times, even going so far as to get plastic surgery. His family would flee to a new place—New Jersey, Minnesota, Tennessee, California, Florida—every time Salem feared his cover had been blown. He uses an app that notifies him, via cellphone, if anyone approaches the front door; he wears Kevlar vests and carries multiple guns. Though he still uses an alias in his daily life, he's started giving interviews and has written a book—the first of two memoirs—in an effort to cash in on his former notoriety; currently, he has no job, no pension, and no home equity. His attorney advised against it: "The higher his profile, the bigger the target he will become." (More Omar Abdel Rahman stories.)

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