Man who Spied on OC Mosques for FBI Pimps Story to Al Jazeera
Craig Monteilh just won't go away. The convicted con artist who claims the FBI paid him to infiltrate OC mosques, first surfaced back in 2007 when Muslims at a mosque in Irvine reported him to the FBI for trying to recruit worshipers into a terrorist cell. He disappeared behind bars for a while, and then, earlier this year, contacted the Weekly, offering to share all he knew if we'd commit to a series of articles, the first of which would clear his name by revealing that he was an FBI mole. Subsequent stories, he promised, would contain "explosive" and detailed revelations about the plots he uncovered and stymied.
Well, the Weekly did run a few stories about Monteilh, the longest of which exposed how, after he conned several women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a bogus steroid investment scheme, Monteilh successfully conned the FBI into paying him to infiltrate mosques. It was a great story, to be sure, but one that distinctly lacked any evidence that Monteilh uncovered any terrorist activity whatsoever. The only arrest linked to his subterfuge involved an Afghan immigrant who lied on his visa paperwork about an in-law who happened to be a high-ranking Taliban official. At a bail hearing for the hapless Afghan, Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, an FBI agent acknowledged that an informant (quickly identified as Monteilh) had provided the bureau with a tape recording of Niazi referring to Osama bin Laden as an "angel."
At the time, Monteilh claimed more arrests would quickly follow---arrests that would confirm the existence of the major terrorist cell he supposedly thwarted. "When they start arresting people, who's going to be the hero?" he asked. Well, it's been months now, and still no further arrests. Instead of being a hero, much less a celebrity, Monteilh has had to satisfy himself with local coverage, such as an embarrassing interview--embarrassing because the interviewer asked Monteilh why anyone should believe anything he said since he was a con artist--with Inside OC with Rick Reiff.
Finally, though, Monteilh's dream has come true: a three-minute spot on one of the world's most-watched cable news programs, Al Jazeera. The clip includes a few interviews with OC Muslims who say Monteilh tried to entice them into a terrorist plot. As usual, the FBI refused to comment. It's hard not to imagine why. Almost nothing that has come out of Monteilh's mouth can or should be taken seriously, and even if he does provide a convenient bugaboo for Muslims who legitimately fear that the FBI is monitoring them, if a network like Al Jazeera doesn't have anything better to do than interview this guy, they should at least make mention of some of the overwhelming evidence that he's completely full of shit, and that his relationship with the FBI may be a lot less real than part of Monteilh's never-ending con game.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.