U.S. General John Allen, who replaced former CIA Director David Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan last year, is now under investigation for inappropriate behavior with the same woman who sparked an FBI probe of Petraeus that led to his resignation last week over an extramarital affair.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement that the FBI had referred “a matter involving” General Allen, who is commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, to the Department of Defense.
“Today, the secretary directed that the matter be referred to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for investigation, and it is now in the hands of the Inspector General,” Secretary Panetta said.
The statement said that General Allen would remain commander of ISAF during the investigation and that he was “entitled to due process in this matter,” reports NBC News.
A senior official later told reporters that General Allen was allegedly engaged in “inappropriate behavior” with Jill Kelley, the woman whose complaint of e-mail harassment to the FBI launched a probe that uncovered an affair between David Petraeus and biographer Paula Broadwell.
That investigation found Broadwell had sent the harassing e-mails to Kelley through anonymous accounts after the writer ended her relationship with Petraeus.
Kelley is married to a Tampa doctor and known among officers at Central Command for hosting social events and forging social ties with top commanders in the city. She was given an award for her support to Central Command and was named an honorary ambassador for the command last year, an unpaid position with no official duties.
Some senior officers were angered by Kelley’s persistent efforts to forge close personal ties to successive Central Command four-star officers, by deluging with emails. After being named honorary ambassador, she asked the command for staff at the headquarters to help her organize social functions, a former U.S. official said.
According to TIME Magazine, Kelley is of Lebanese descent and grew up in Philadelphia after her family emigrated from Lebanon to open a Middle Eastern restaurant. Her father, John Khawam, was a renowned organist in Lebanon.
Her twin sister, Natalie Khawam, was involved in a custody dispute with ex-husband Grayson Wolfe over their four-year-old son. Both Petraeus and Allen are said to have intervened in the custody battle, writing letters on behalf of Khawam (allegedly at Kelley’s behest) to reverse a judge’s ruling that denied her custody. In the ruling, the judge supposedly called Khawam a “psychologically unstable person.”
The FBI probe of General Allen involves some 20,000 to 30,000 pages, mostly emails, which were sent between 2010 and 2012. Officials refused to go into any further detail about the correspondence. The general, who is currently in line to take over as head of U.S. forces in Europe and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. denies any inappropriate behavior.
General Allen was in D.C. on Monday, preparing for Senate confirmation hearings to take over the post. Those hearings have now been put on hold “until the relevant facts are determined,” Panetta’s statement said.
General Joseph Dunford was already named as General Allen’s successor to head the ISAF. That process is now expected to be fast tracked.