Nobody is less surprised that the FBI supposedly used Monteilh to spy on mosques than Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. “This has reinforced our suspicions and fears all along that we carried,” he says. In May 2006, just before the FBI’s Tidwell insisted the bureau would never spy on mosques, Syed and several other Muslim leaders filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI, demanding records of any surveillance operations against them. When the FBI handed over only 50 pages of heavily redacted material, the ACLU filed a lawsuit and ultimately won hundreds of pages—most of them blacked-out—showing that the FBI had indeed been monitoring them. The FBI continues to withhold numerous records on national-security grounds, but on April 20, a federal judge ordered the FBI to hand over those records.

According to Monteilh, Syed’s FOIA request could turn up quite a scandal. Although he refused to elaborate, he claims the FBI wasn’t just spying on mosques. “This is way bigger than that,” he says. “If you think this was racial profiling, you haven’t even heard the beginning.” When asked why the FBI hasn’t arrested anyone other than Niazi if he really thwarted a terrorist plot, Monteilh insists that the FBI is just biding its time for the controversy over his infiltration of the mosques to blow over. “With all that is going on now, maybe it’s best to hold on,” he says. “When they start arresting people, who’s going to be the hero?”

nschou@ocweekly.com

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