By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
The cops invited him to meet some of their colleagues at Sam Yoo’s, a Chinese restaurant in Irvine. “In the course of the conversation, they said, ‘Would you mind sitting down with us and telling us about activities going down in Orange County? You can even be paid doing this,’” Monteilh recalls. “I said sure, and that’s where this started.”
Over the course of the next few years, Monteilh says, he helped the FBI arrest several white-supremacist and Russian-mafia figures.
Monteilh claims his next operation involved “the illegal distribution of HGH [human growth hormone] and anabolic steroids,” but that in the middle of his investigation, the FBI invited him to do “national security work.” Because he wanted to help to defend his country, Monteilh says, he had to abruptly cease his HGH probe. In Monteilh’s telling, Danielle and Carla—the two women he ripped off—were actually targets of his investigation. “There were people we had focused on,” he says. “They gave me money. . . . They were very pissed off that I left. They wanted me to continue providing HGH to them.”
According to Monteilh, an FBI agent met with him at a Starbucks in Costa Mesa and invited him to spy on local mosques in the name of national security. Monteilh claims he then met with two FBI agents, who asked him to name various Middle Eastern current heads of state and every Russian leader since Czar Nicholas. Monteilh rattled off all the names without hesitation. “They looked at each other and said, ‘You’ve already passed,’” he says. “‘We’re going to take what you already know, incorporate it with other things, and make you into a weapon of intel.’ I said, ‘Okay.’”
From there, Monteilh claims, he was taken to a training center, the location of which he refuses to divulge, and was provided with basic Arabic instruction and a refresher course on Islam, which included memorizing the Koran. Monteilh would enter the mosque under his own name but ask to be called Farouk Aziz. He would falsely claim to be of mixed French-Syrian ancestry. “The plan,” he says, “was to enter the ISOI [Islamic Center of Irvine], to begin very slowly, start with Western clothes, Italian suits, and in the process of my studies, shed off all Western [clothes] at the direction of Muslims . . . and to make this transformation as real as possible.”
After converting to Islam—or pretending to—in a public ceremony at the mosque, Monteilh began regularly attending prayers there in August 2006. The mosque’s imam, Sadullah Khan, is a widely respected moderate who grew up in South Africa and was involved in the struggle against apartheid. (He declined an interview request for this story, citing the mosque’s ongoing legal efforts to enforce a restraining order against Monteilh.)
Monteilh also claims he fell in with a group of Egyptians, all of whom were secretly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that when the group invited him to visit their houses and attend their meetings, the FBI increased his pay.
In late September 2007, Monteilh claims, one of the Egyptians told him that a Muslim “brother” wanted to meet him and teach him how to make bombs. Monteilh told his handlers. “At the time, we were negotiating my monthly payments,” he says, so the FBI supervisor thought he was lying in order to boost his pay. Monteilh offered to tape-record the Egyptians talking about bombs. A few days later, he accompanied the Egyptians to the It’s a Grind coffee shop on Culver Street. While the rest of the group went inside to buy tea and coffee, Monteilh taped himself thanking the man who’d told him about the bomb instructor. “I am honored that you would trust me in that way,” he said.
“Farouk,” Monteilh claims the man replied. “We’re brothers. I trust you with everything now. I don’t mind telling you about a brother that wants to help you make a bomb.”
Soon thereafter, Monteilh says, he met Ahmadullah Sais Niazi. Over the course of the next few months, Monteilh says, he spent an increasing amount of time with Niazi, discussing jihad. While eating dinner at a Chinese Islamic restaurant in May 2007, they discussed the recent death of an Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Dadullah. According to Monteilh, he secretly recorded Niazi praising Dadullah and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
“The other one is even greater,” he claims Niazi stated.
“Who’s that?” Monteilh asked.
“The tall skinny one,” Niazi replied.
“Osama bin Laden?” Monteilh asked. “He said, ‘Shhh.’” Then, Monteilh says, Niazi boasted that when bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996, he was there to welcome him. Niazi then offered to provide Monteilh with speeches by bin Laden.
“He is an angel,” Niazi concluded. That quote, Monteilh explains, is the one that FBI agent Ropel later cited in his affidavit against Niazi.
Monteilh didn’t just secretly record Niazi, but he also kept what he claims are copies of all his e-mail communications with him, which he provided to the Weekly. Most of the messages are simply links to various websites and YouTube video clips with subject titles such as “Check this out.” Many of the links no longer work, but the ones that are still valid direct viewers to everything from Arabic instructional websites to clips of such 9/11-conspiracy movies as Loose Change, which posits that the infamous attacks were an inside job. Although many of the e-mails contain essays that are paranoid, distasteful, anti-Semitic and pro-radical-Islam, none of them even comes close to being evidence of any kind of a terrorist plot.