You've got to hand it to Craig Monteilh. His story keeps changing, but it keeps getting more sexy every time.
First, he cons the FBI into paying him thousands of dollars a week to spy on Orange County's Islamic community, despite a criminal record as a con artist. Then, pretending to be a Muslim interested in jihad, he so rattles fellow worshippers that they alert the police to his radical rhetoric, and even go so far as to file a restraining order against him. His cover blown, Monteilh then takes credit for the arrest of an Afghan immigrant who he caught on tape praising bin Laden. (When the FBI couldn't turn that person into an informant, they charged him with passport fraud, but later dropped the charges.)
Since that didn't seem sufficiently heroic, though, Monteilh went public with his story, claiming he'd uncovered a major terrorist conspiracy among local Muslims. Now, Monteilh wants the world to know that he's sorry for the spying--and, that's right, ladies--for all that sexy time in the name of counter-terrorism, too.
To wit, in an interview with the British
newspaper published March 20 that ran under the provocative headline "
," Monteilh claimed that "he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the okay to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting . . . [n]or, at the time, did he shy away from recording their pillow talk."
"They said if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex," Monteilh stated. "So I did."
The Guardian referred to Monteilh's statement as a "astonishing admission that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11." That's assuming the claim is true, of course. And what the Guardian failed to tell its readers is that for Monteilh, the truth is a substance as rare and potentially lethal as kryptonite.
Nowhere in the story did the Guardian mention that right in the middle of his supposed infiltration of a (non-existent, as even Monteilh himself now admits) terrorist cell, the FBI failed to lift a finger when Irvine police busted him for defrauding two women of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus sending him back to prison for several months.
Amazingly, the Guardian failed to see through Monteilh. But in the newspaper's defense, it's worth noting that despite his repeated reversals (not to mention his rather prurient claims about female worshippers), he's now allied with Orange County Muslim leaders and the ACLU in a lawsuit against the FBI which accuses the agency of entrapment. Strange bedfellows indeed.
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You can read more about Monteilh and his long, laughable (unless he still owes you money) history of lies and deceit, in my cover story about him, ('Who Was That Mosqued Man?').
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is managing editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).