To illustrate the growing important of FBI Bassem Youssef's case, below is today's New York Times article that further elaborates how close he came two months before the attack to interviewing a witness with information about bin Laden -- and how he was thwarted by his own department. July 19, 2003 Arab - American FBI Agent Sues Agency By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 6:45 p.m. ET WASHINGTON (AP) -- A high-ranking Arab-American FBI agent is taking the bureau to court, accusing it of racial discrimination for freezing him out of the Sept. 11 investigation. The suit described agent Bassem Youssef as the only polygraph examiner qualified to conduct interviews in Arabic, with extensive experience and Middle Eastern contacts culled from his days with the FBI in Saudi Arabia. Yet, the complaint said, he was kept away from any substantial investigations related to the hijacking attacks on New York and Washington. ``No other non-Arab FBI employee with similar background and experience in counterterrorism was willfully blocked from working 9-11 related matters,'' according to the complaint. ``In fact, numerous non-Arab FBI employees with far less experience and expertise in counterterrorism were assigned to 9-11 related work.'' Calls to the FBI and the Justice Department were not returned Saturday. Youssef's attorney, Stephen Kohn, said his client was sidelined for no good reason. ``What you want is the most qualified person and the most qualified person was not permitted to work on the most important criminal prosecution in American history,'' Kohn said. The lawsuit was filed Friday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Youssef alleges the agency has a ``glass ceiling'' regarding the promotion of U.S. citizens born in Arab countries. Youssef, a naturalized American citizen, was born in Egypt. His work with the agency began in 1988. The lawsuit said he received an ``exceptional'' performance review for his work in Saudi Arabia, a coveted counterterrorism honor called the Director of Central Intelligence Award, and praise for his investigative efforts during congressional testimony from former FBI Director Louis Freeh. However, the complaint said, Youssef became aware of the alleged bias after returning from Saudi Arabia in 2000. Youssef, who is a currently a unit supervisor at FBI headquarters in Washington, contends he has been prevented from reaching the higher management level of officials who run day-to-day operations solely because of his national origin. Beyond the allegations of bias, the lawsuit claimed that the treatment of Youssef undermined counterterrorism efforts before the 2001 hijacking attacks. For example, the complaint said, two months before Sept. 11, a ``walk-in'' at one of the FBI's field offices said he had significant information about terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. The lawsuit said the field office requested that Youssef debrief the walk-in because of his expertise, but he did not end up handling the interview. The possible informant left without revealing whatever information he may have had, according to the suit. Kohn said the FBI has to ``aggressively root out bigotry in the agency and not further retaliate against Youssef.'' His client is seeking monetary damages and placement in higher management at the agency. Youssef also wants an injunction against any reprisal actions by the FBI.