FBI Using Fake Muslim Converts or Missionaries to Entrap Muslims

Posted on March 3, 2009

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By Teresa Watanabe and Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2009

The Islamic Center of Irvine is a beige stucco building that blends into the rows of office buildings surrounding it. But last week, it became the most publicized mosque in California with disclosures that the FBI sent an informant there to spy and collect evidence of jihadist rhetoric and other allegedly extremist acts by a Tustin man who attended prayers there.

The revelations dismayed mosque members like Omar Turbi, 50, and his 27-year-old son who shares his name. After Friday prayer service last week, while hundreds of others scurried back to work, the pair stood with their backs to a wall and mulled over the news.

“It gives you a little bit of apprehension about who you trust,” the elder Turbi said. “Makes you think twice about what you say; what if people misunderstand you?”

Turbi’s fears were echoed by other Muslims throughout Southern California last week. Some say a climate of suspicion toward them, fueled by 9/11 and underscored by the latest disclosures of FBI surveillance, is inhibiting their freedoms of speech and faith.

FBI Uses Fake Muslim Convert, Craig Monteilh as Informant

FBI Uses Fake Muslim Convert, Craig Monteilh as Informant

According to Muslim leaders, some people are avoiding mosques, preferring to pray at home. Others are reducing donations to avoid attracting government attention or paying in cash to avoid leaving records. And some mosques have asked speakers to refrain from political messages in their sermons, such as criticism of U.S. foreign policy, said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Anaheim.

“Some average Muslims interested only in praying are avoiding mosques for fear of somehow being monitored or profiled,” Ayloush said. “Everybody is afraid, and it is leading to an infringement of the free practice of our religion.”

The latest anxiety wave was triggered by an FBI agent’s testimony last week that an informant was sent into several Orange County mosques and helped collect evidence against Ahmadullah Sais Niazi. The Afghanistan-born Niazi, 34, is scheduled for arraignment this month on charges of perjury, naturalization fraud and other acts related to lying about ties to Al Qaeda.

A man claiming to be that informant, Irvine resident Craig Monteilh, said last week in interviews and court documents that he served the FBI as a paid informant from July 2006 to October 2007 and used concealed audio and video equipment to record thousands of hours of conversations with Muslims in homes, restaurants and mosques in Irvine, Tustin, Mission Viejo and elsewhere.

But Ayloush and other Muslim leaders said that FBI scrutiny of the Muslim community — and efforts to recruit informants — began years ago. The FBI declined to comment.

Both Ayloush and Shakeel Syed of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization of 68 area mosques, said numerous Muslims have reported to them attempts by the FBI to recruit them as informers. In virtually all cases, they said, the Muslims in question had immigration and other legal problems or were applying for green cards. “We will make your problems vanish if you cooperate,” Syed said the FBI told Muslims. [more]

Though Muslims suspected him, FBI Groomed Monteilh How to Pretend to Convert to Islam

[…] Ayloush said he had received numerous complaints from Muslims in 2007 that Monteilh was aggressively promoting terrorist plots and trying to recruit others to join him. Citing such behavior and saying that it made members of the mosque feel threatened, the Islamic Center of Irvine won a temporary restraining order in June 2007 that barred Monteilh from the mosque.

Monteilh […] said he was speaking out now because the FBI had allegedly violated pledges to […] place him in a witness protection program, give him a final payment of $100,000 and grant other benefits in an exit package. […]

Monteilh, burly and bald, said he first began working for the FBI in late 2003 as an informant on white supremacist and narcotics cases after making connections with the Aryan Brotherhood during a prison stint for forgery. In 2006, he alleges, he agreed to infiltrate mosques.

During two weeks of training, Monteilh said in an interview with The Times, he was taught about Islam, Arabic, self-defense and weapons. He said he was outfitted with video and audio recording devices and given specific names of people to monitor. Monteilh said he also was instructed to progress slowly in his embrace of Islam to make his conversion seem natural — wearing Western clothes initially and then eventually growing a beard and donning an Egyptian robe, shawl and head cap.

In August 2006, Monteilh said, he approached his first target: the Islamic Center of Irvine. There, he alleges, he made his declaration of the Islamic faith known as shahada and, as instructed by his FBI handlers, posed as a serious student of Islam.

Several Muslims began to embrace him […]. Over a year, Monteilh further related in an interview, the FBI paid him sums ranging from $2,500 a month to as high as $11,200. Monteilh said he was cut loose as an informant in fall 2007 because members of the mosque he infiltrated began to suspect that he was working with the FBI. [more]

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How Criminal Felon and FBI Informant Craig Monteilth Attempted to Entrap Regular Muslims in California

By ABDUSSALAM MOHAMED, Senior Staff Writer, Southern California Infocus

LOS ANGELES – On the first Friday of each month, Mohammed Elsisy, an Egyptian-born software engineer, usually drives from his home in Irvine, Calif., to the King Fahad mosque in Culver City, Calif., to deliver the khutba, or sermon.

Elsisy thought the first Friday of this past June would be no different.

But little did he know something totally unexpected was about to happen that would make this particular Friday the most memorable for years to come.

Elsisy had two passengers in his car at the time.

In the back seat sat Ahmed Niazi, 33, a language teacher and a friend, while in the passenger seat sat a man who converted to Islam almost a year ago.

The man was 44-year-old Craig Monteilh, but he went by the name “Farouk Aziz.”

“Monteilh started talking about the Iraq war,” Niazi said. “He went off on a rant against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.”

But then, out of the blue, Monteilh said something that sent chills down the spines of his companions.

He asked Elsisy and Niazi if they knew of an “operation” he could be part of.

Pin-drop silence followed. Elsisy’s eyes bounced over to the rearview mirror and traded a horrified glance with Niazi.

“Blood froze up in our veins,” Elsisy recalls. [more]

Video clip of Agent Provocateur Craig Monteilh

Craig Monteilh is a felon who served jail time for forgery. Contrary to the above story from Elsisy, watch this proven felon claim that he “mirrored” instead of instigating others to dastardly acts.

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