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Informant attempts suicide at White House

FBI witness in terror trial upgraded to serious condition

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An FBI informant sets himself ablaze outside the White House.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
White House

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An FBI informant who set himself on fire in a suicide attempt Monday has been upgraded to serious condition at Washington Hospital Center, a spokesman said. He tried to ignite himself in front of the White House.

The FBI refused to discuss the matter.

Government sources confirmed Mohamed Alanssi has been an FBI informant for several years, as he claimed in a letter sent to The Washington Post. In that letter, Alanssi threatened to commit suicide because, he said, he was unhappy with the way the FBI treated him.

Alanssi had recently conducted several interviews with the Post about his life as an informant. He did so after his name was leaked to the media -- an action that he said resulted in harassment of his family in Yemen.

The government sources said Alanssi was a key informant in the arrest of Mohammed Al Moayad, a fellow Yemeni who was taken into custody last year in a sting operation in Frankfurt, Germany.

Facing charges in the United States, Moayad is accused of raising funds and providing material support for terrorist organizations. Alanssi was scheduled to testify in January at Moayad's trial in New York.

The sources said a claim by Alanssi that the FBI paid him $100,000 last year for his efforts is "about right."

In his letter to the Post, he said he had wanted to see his family, which still resides in Yemen, before testifying. He claimed the FBI agent in charge of his case ignored "my request to see my family. He doesn't care about mine and my family's lives."

The government sources said Alanssi's request was not ignored and that several options were proposed to him. They said one possibility was having him meet his family not in Yemen but in another country they refused to name for "security reasons."

Alanssi saw it differently, saying in his letter, "At the end this is the reward from FBI for my cooperate (sic) with them for capturing the bad people who linked with Al-Qaeda."

Officials said Alanssi first came to the United States from Yemen on July 23, 2001, arriving on a tourist visa in New York, and left on January 7, 2002. When he returned from Yemen on October 21, 2002, he was met at New York's JFK Airport by the FBI, which took custody of him, took his Yemeni passport and granted him "humanitarian parole."

Such unusual status is generally given to people who are in the United States for urgent medical reasons but may also be granted to someone who will provide a "significant public benefit," which sources said could include assisting law enforcement agencies.

Kelli Arena, Terry Frieden and Kevin Bohn contributed to this story.

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