In the 18 years Dr. Moniem El-Ganayni has held a security clearance at Bettis Laboratory in West Mifflin, his superiors have never questioned his work ethic or his loyalty to this nation.
The 57-year-old Egyptian-born nuclear scientist is a devout Muslim and co-founder of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland. He was also the imam at the state prison in Forest County for five months last year.
As detailed in a recent Post-Gazette story by Sally Kalson, Dr. El-Ganayni's contract was abruptly canceled by the prison following disputes with the authorities over visitation and religious observances for Muslim inmates. Shortly after he lost his prison ministry, Dr. El-Ganayni was questioned by the FBI's Pittsburgh office and the Department of Energy about a creationist text he distributed to inmates called "The Miracle of the Ant."
The book contains a benign story about ant behavior that someone apparently interpreted as subliminal, pro-jihad marching instructions to suicide bombers. The twist is that the offending passage was lifted word-for-word from a well-known and respected science book that is literally about ants, not al-Qaida.
Dr. El-Ganayni was also questioned about advising mosques not to cooperate with the FBI in probes of the Islamic community. He said he didn't want to see distrust between Muslims grow at a time when suspicion of their religion and their community is widespread in this country.
We don't know what specific issues or concerns led to the loss of Dr. El-Ganayni's security clearance at the Bettis lab after 18 years, but his credentials have been pulled pending the outcome of a DOE investigation. The loss of his clearance means he's also banned from taking another job as a nuclear physicist anywhere in the United States. (MORE)