A former FBI informant, who was tasked with secretly infiltrating southern California mosques, admits in many cases civil rights groups are correct in their concern that Muslims are being unfairly targeted. He told The Guardian “the way the FBI conducts their operations it is all about the entrapment.”
“I know the game, I know the dynamics of it,” said Craig Monteilh, a 49-year-old who became an undercover spy after meeting off-duty cops at a gym. “It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed.”
The details are all a part of an excellent piece of journalism by Paul Harris of The Guardian, where he covers Monteilh’s history as an informant for the FBI. As Harris writes, much of what Monteilh did “sounds like something out of a pulp thriller.”
Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.
He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.
Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County’s Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency
Monteilh was granted permission by his “FBI handlers” to “have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting.” He was told if it “would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex.” He did and would record “pillow talk” that could be used to target individuals.
As an informant, he would talk about having “access to weapons” and try to trap people into making incriminating statements about “jihad.” He worked to “uncover potential militants” and he also used any affairs or discoveries on people who were possibly gay as ammunition for turning people into FBI informants themselves.
The confession from Monteilh is timely. A 34-year-old man named Khalifah Al-Akili, who lives near Pittsburgh, was recently interviewed by Times Union and spoke about a Pakistani FBI informant named Shahed Hussain that had tried to entrap him. He found a photo of Hussain while doing a Google search. The search also confirmed that the cell phone number given to him was also the number Hussain had used when helping the FBI entrap the Newburgh Four in 2009.
Al-Akili explained this was not the first time the FBI had tried to entrap him: “In 2005, they sent another informant that was very clear to me. I praise God for this that every time they do send someone I’m able to detect it almost immediately.”
The Times-Union reported Al-Akili was arrested in an FBI raid on March 15. He was “charged in a federal complaint with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court said federal agents obtained an email with a 7-second video showing Al-Akili firing a .22-caliber rifle at a shooting range in 2010. Federal agents said Al-Akili was prohibited from possessing a gun because of a 2001 drug conviction.”
The raid appears to be an attempt to salvage an operation that was botched by Hussain. During a detention hearing, FBI agent Joseph M. Bieshalt testified that “jihadist literature and books on military tactics” had been found in Al-Akili’s home. Bieshalt also claimed “an informant” (possibly Hussain) had been told he planned to go join the Taliban in Pakistan. A recording of Al-Akili saying he was “developing somebody to possibly strap a bomb on himself” was also mentioned.
The government may go to work now and make Al-Akili’s life miserable for interfering with their operation by doing some Googling.
Will they continue to use Hussain, who was “arrested on murder charges in Pakistan,” who used a “fake British passport” to enter the US, who engaged in a “driving license scam” that led to fraud convictions and who said he was poor when he was receiving “mysterious sums of money from Pakistan” before becoming an FBI informant? Will they continue to use someone known to promote “anti-Semitism” to entrap Muslims in conjured bomb plots?
Imam Salahuddin Muhammad of Newburgh told Democracy Now! in a report produced by Anjali Kamat and Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films for Democracy Now!, “I believe that what we are seeing today with the FBI surveillance and the FBI allowing for agent provocateurs to enter into Muslim communities is the same thing that happened in the ’60s with a lot of the black nationalist organizations. That’s what I see happening today in the Islamic community. The FBI, they are sending these agent provocateurs into the community, and they are cultivating and nurturing and actually creating situations that would never have occurred if they didn’t have their man in there to do that.”
At the end of the day, Hussain is the FBI’s man. Like Monteilh, who had been convicted of a felony before becoming a spy, told The Guardian, “I was untouchable. I am a felon, I am on probation and the police cannot arrest me. How empowering is that? It is very empowering. You began to have a certain arrogance about it. It is almost taunting. They told me: ‘You are an untouchable.’”
The whole nature of the FBI’s operations to entrap Muslims is lawless, mendacious, obscene and sleazy. A big-mouthed con man like Hussain is the perfect representation of the continued program to manufacture terrorism. So, of course, he’ll continue to go after Muslims. They may even give him a raise to keep his mouth shut and not go talk to the press like Monteilh did.