Osama El-Atari, the colorful restaurant owner, fast-car driver, bank-scammer and jailhouse informant from Loudoun County, has disappeared, the Loudoun sheriff’s office said Friday.
El-Atari formerly owned the Original Steakhouse and Sports Theaters in Ashburn and Woodbridge, owned a mansion in Ashburn and boasted of a vast luxury car collection. But he was found to be defrauding banks for big loans, was charged by the feds, and vanished from Loudoun in 2009. He was located in Texas in 2010, pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining about $71 million in loans, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
But while in jail in Alexandria and Arlington, he met a man accused of aiding the al-Shabab terrorist group and provided information to the authorities on him. Then, while in jail in Arlington in 2010, he met Jorge Torrez, a Marine accused of murdering a Navy sailor in Arlington in 2009. Court records show El-Atari wore a hidden recorder and captured Torrez discussing both the sailor’s slaying and the 2005 deaths of two girls in Zion, Ill., Torrez’s hometown.
Torrez received the death penalty in the Arlington case, and is now back in Illinois awaiting trial on the slayings of the two girls.
El-Atari, meanwhile, sought a sentence reduction for his significant cooperation in the two cases, and federal prosecutors in Alexandria agreed. In May 2014, El-Atari was released after serving 51 months of his 144-month sentence.
The Loudoun sheriff’s office said Friday afternoon that El-Atari was reported missing by family members Thursday, and that he was last seen around 5 p.m. Wednesday in the 1600 block of Rochelle Avenue in Capitol Heights, Md. El-Atari is described as 5’6” tall, 200 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He drives a 2015 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck with Montana tags.
Anyone with any information regarding his possible whereabouts is asked to contact Detective S. Schochet of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office at 703-777-0475. Loudoun sheriff’s spokeswoman Liz Mills said she could not comment on whether investigators are linking El-Atari’s disappearance to his prior activities, and said deputies are “working with other area jurisdictions to confirm his last known whereabouts.”