Rita Katz

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Rita Katz is Director SITE Institute, which she co-founded in 2002 with Josh Devon.

"Since well before September 11, she has personally briefed government officials, including former terrorism czar Richard Clarke and his staff in the White House, as well as investigators in the Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Homeland Security on the financing and recruitment networks of the terrorist movement. Many of her leads have prompted the government to investigate and take legal action against individuals and organizations suspected of ties to terrorism," the SITE website states.[1]

Prior, Katz "served as Research Director" of Steven Emerson's The Investigative Project on Terrorism[2] in Washington, DC. "Born in Iraq and a graduate of the Middle Eastern Studies program at Tel Aviv University, Katz speaks both Arabic and Hebrew with native fluency."[1]

Katz was identified as one of the attorneys, "counsel for the plaintiffs"—"Families of victims of September 11 terrorist attacks are suing, among others, various Saudi princes for $116 trillion of damages from the loss of life in September 11."—in an August 16, 2002, video clip shown on CNN's Crossfire with Robert Novak.[3]

Katz is the author of Terrorist Hunter: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman who Went Undercover to Infiltrate the Radical Islamic Groups Operating in America published 2003 by HarperCollins (owned by Rupert Murdoch).

The trial of Al-Hussayen

Katz was called as a witness during the trial of Al-Hussayen, a doctoral student at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, who was charged for supplying material support to a terrorist group because he volunteered to setup and maintain a website for the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), a group that has been investigated by the Federal Government, but never charged.[4][5]

The government, however, didn't claim that she was a terrorism expert. During the trial it was discovered that Katz herself had worked in violation of her visa agreement when she first arrived in America in 1997. She also admitted to receiving more than $130,000 for her work as an FBI consultant on the case.

Interestingly, SITE has at least two news articles about Al-Hussayen, one a report on a Wall Street Journal article[6] and the second one from the Ann Arbor News (no longer available on SITE's website),[7] which described a second possible financial motive for Katz's testimony against the Muslim organisations other than the government's remuneration:

"Katz was hired to research terrorism by 911 Families United To Bankrupt Terrorism, a collection of about 1,000 relatives of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That group filed a civil lawsuit in August 2002 against organizations they say finance terrorism."

FBI raids on Muslim organizations

"A series of raids in Northern Virginia in March 2002 of non-profit organizations and private homes terrorized a community and targeted some of the most prominent and well respected Muslim organizations and citizens of the United States. No money laundering or terrorism financing charges have been brought against these organizations or their officers in over three years. Some federal officials have characterized the investigation as an 'intelligence probe' designed to gather information rather than to enforce the law," Timothy H. Edgar, National Security Policy Counsel for the ACLU testified in April 2005, before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security of the House Committee on the Judiciary.[8]

"...federal agents seized confidential files, computer hard drives, books, and other materials from some of the most respected Islamic think tanks and organizations in the United States and raided the homes of many of the leaders involved in those organizations. The search warrants targeted two entities whose main purpose involves activities at the core of the First Amendment: the Graduate School of Islamic Thought and Social Sciences (GSITSS), an institute of higher education, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an Islamic research institute and think tank, as well as the private homes of a number of their employees and scholars," Edgar said.

"The complaint in the civil rights action says the affidavit in support of the search warrants contained fabricated material facts regarding non-existent overseas transactions. The complaint also says the search warrant affidavit was drafted with the help of private author and self-styled 'terrorist hunter' Rita Katz, who was paid $272,000 for her advice by the federal government and has made much more in a book deal and as a consultant for news organizations. According to federal investigators, Katz 'lost the trust of some investigators from the FBI and Justice Department' as a result in part of the 'reckless conclusions' she drew in her book," Edgar said.[8]


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mission, SITEInstitute.org, accessed October 9, 2007.
  2. See website: InvestigativeProject.com.
  3. Transcript: "Adel Al-Jubeir Foreign Policy Advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on CNN's 'Crossfire'," August 16, 2002; posted on Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia website.
  4. Betsy Z. Russell, "Consultant gives limited testimony," The Spokesman-Review (Boise, Idaho), May 16, 2004.
  5. Maureen O'Hagan, "A terrorism case that went awry," Seattle Times, November 22, 2004: "John Ashcroft called Sami al-Hussayen part of 'a terrorist threat to Americans that is fanatical, and it is fierce.' ... Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said al-Hussayen is proof that terrorists are hiding in the heartland."
  6. "Idaho Arrest Puts Muslim Students Under U.S. Scrutiny," SITE Institute, May 30, 2003.
  7. This article is no longer available on the SITE's website: Tom Gantert, "Money Trail Leads to Charity. Student implicated in FBI terrorism probe sent check to Rabih Haddad's Global Relief and allegedly sent money to IANA," Ann Arbor News (Michigan), March 15, 2003. SITE Mirror with poor attribution given for paper.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Testimony at an Oversight Hearing on the Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Effect of Sections 203 (b) and (d) on Information Sharing before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Submitted by Timothy H. Edgar, National Security Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union, April 19, 2005.

Articles by Rita Katz

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External resources