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
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is 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).