FBI: Bureau of Frame-Ups, Bullying, and Intimidation (William Norman Grigg)
Monday October 25th, 2010
"We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate."
This stereotypically thuggish threat issued from a stereotypical thug named Vincent, an FBI agent who was among a half-dozen Feds and local police who descended on the Santa Clara home of 20-year-old Yasir Afifi earlier this month. A few days before that visit, Afifi had discovered a government-issue GPS tracking device attached to his car during an oil change.
A few days later, one of Afifi's friends posted a photo of the unit (an Orion Guardian ST820 tracking device, which is sold exclusively to law enforcement agencies) to an on-line file-sharing site. This sent the Stasi scurrying to Afifi's home to reclaim the surveillance gear it had surreptitiously planted on his car. They also took the opportunity to bully and brow-beat the college student, whom they had pestered several months before following an anonymous tip that the natural-born U.S. citizen was a "threat to national security."
During the earlier visit Afifi stiff-armed the Bureau of Frame-ups, Bullying and Intimidation, telling them he would answer their questions if his attorney approved. The Feds appeared to lose interest in Afifi after his attorney contacted the Bureau. In fact, they were continuing to keep him and his friends under surveillance: Not only did they secretly place a tracking device on Afifi's car, they also kept track of his travel plans, his employment status, and even shadowed him when he took his girlfriend out on dinner dates.
During their visit to reclaim their snooping device, the Feds seemed determined to wring from Afifi some kind of damaging statement about his friend Khaled, who had posted the photo of the GPS tracker. One of the interrogators produced a printout of a blog post written by Khaled that " had something to do with a mall or a bomb," Afifi related to Wired News. He was also told that the FBI had stationed other agents outside Khaled's house, a statement Afifi described as "weird.... I didn't really believe anything they were saying."
It is entirely reasonable to believe that every word uttered by a representative of the FBI is a deliberate falsehood. It's also something in the neighborhood of a certainty that Afifi's timely and unexpected discovery of the FBI's tracking device ruined the Bureau's plans to blackmail him into joining its ever-expanding stable of informant/provocateurs.
Just days before the FBI swarmed Afifi's home to recover its illicitly planted tracking device, federal prosecutors dropped charges against Afghan immigrant and Arabic language instructor Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, who was accused of concealing "ties to terrorist groups" in his citizenship application.
Niazi's supposed offense was neglecting to mention the fact that his sister was married to a Taliban leader who -- at the time -- was distantly allied with someone believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda. This would mean that Niazi, who had settled in Orange County, California, was "linked" to terrorism in the same way that Dark Helmet was connected to Lone Star in "Spaceballs" ("I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate").
As Niazi pointed out, he didn't choose his in-laws or be responsible for their chosen associations. But the FBI, like secret police in every despotism, are quick to capitalize on exploitable vulnerabilities of this kind.
Niazi was arrested by the FBI in early 2009. Thomas J. Ropel III, a Special Agent assigned to the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force, claimed that Niazi had approached an "undercover informant" and offered to send him to terrorist training camps in Yemen or Pakistan.
In fact, just shortly before the FBI abducted Niazi the Bureau had presented him with what could be called the "Randy Weaver Ultimatum": Either become an informant, or (as Niazi summarized the demand) "we'll make your life a living hell."
Ironically -- or, perhaps, not -- two years before being arrested as a supposed terrorist suspect, Niazi had actually reported a potential terrorist threat to the FBI before being presented with that demand. That threat had been issued by Craig Monteilh, aka "Farouk Aziz," the career criminal who had been planted by the FBI as an infiltrator/provocateur in the Irvine mosque attended by Niazi.
The first Friday of June 2007, Niazi and Monteilh -- who was posing as an Islamic convert of mixed French-Syrian ancestry -- were sharing a ride to the mosque in a car driven by Mohammed Elsisy, an Egyptian-born software engineer. A story published a few weeks later by In Focus News (a periodical covering matters of interest to Muslims in Orange County) described how, apropos of exactly nothing, Monteilh "started talking about the Iraq war," according to Niazi. "He went off on a rant against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."
The FBI's provocateur then asked if either Elsisy or Niazi "knew of an `operation' he could be part of." This wasn't the first time Monteilh had made that pitch: Irvine resident Ashruf Zied, who also attended the mosque, recalled that the informant "approached him one day claiming to have access to weapons and asking if he wanted to join him in `waging jihad.'"
Two things are worth noting here.
The first is that, in keeping with standard FBI procedure, Monteilh's recruitment pitch focused on the real cause of Muslims resentment toward the United States -- Washington's imperial foreign policy -- rather than a supposed theological imperative to slaughter and subdue infidels.
The second critical point is that -- once again, as is common in cases of this kind -- the local Muslims wanted nothing to do with Monteilh once the provocateur began his campaign of incitement. Some of the people who attended the mosque to worship gave the FBI's inside man a wide berth; others simply stopped attending services.
Immediately after their unsettling conversation with Monteilh, Niazi and Elsisy approached Hussam Ayloush, director of the Southern California Chapter of the Committee on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). According to Ayloush, Niazi and Elsisy were worried that the guy they knew as "Farouk" had "gone crazy or is about to do something.... and they would be considered accomplices since they knew him."
Ayloush himself had been cooperating with the FBI since shortly after 9-11, in exchange for assurances (which, unfortunately, he accepted in good faith) that the Bureau would not infiltrate mosques and keep them under surveillance. He immediately contacted J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant FBI Director in Los Angeles, to warn him about "Farouk."
"I am calling to report a possible terrorist," Ayloush told Tidwell. "He is a white convert in Irvine."
"Okay -- thanks for letting us know," Tidwell curtly replied, cutting off Ayloush. What he should have said was: "I know -- he's one of ours." Instead, Tidwell dispatched Special Agent Ellis Kuppferman to interview Niazi, Elsisy, and several others who had met Monteilh. This was done to determine if the FBI could wring any more use out of its infiltrator, and also to learn if any of those who became suspicious of the undercover asset could be induced into becoming informants themselves.
Not content to allow the FBI to handle "Farouk," several members of the Irvine mosque -- including Niazi -- took out a restraining order against him. This prompted the FBI's asset to threaten retaliation in the form of a frame-up.
"There is a restraining order against me," Monteilh complained to Niazi in an e-mail. "The FBI has contacted me. They want to interview me about certain rumors.... Ahmad, I have evidence of the things we discussed. I have proof. And lots of proof. Now it's my turn. I'm very sorry it had [sic] come to this."
At the time Monteilh -- a part-time personal trainer with a criminal history going back to 1987 that includes burglary and grand theft -- was being paid extravagantly by the FBI to harass, torment, and frame innocent Muslims, he was defrauding two local women out of more than $150,000.
In a scam reminiscent of Nigerian e-mail fraud, Monteilh somehow persuaded the women to "invest" large amounts of money to obtain and retail human growth hormone and similar products. Neither the drugs nor the promised profits ever materialized, but Monteilh was able to profit handsomely: In addition to the cash, he got a new car and a plasma-screen television out of the arrangement, as well as an extra-marital affair with one of the victims.
Owing, no doubt, to interference from Monteilh's federal handlers, Irvine police permitted his scam to run long after the victims filed a complaint. In September 2007, charges were finally filed against Monteilh, who confronted a possible five-year prison term. Thanks once again to federal intervention with the prosecutor, the FBI's provocateur was given a 16 month prison sentence, half of which he actually served. His probation term was also cut short at the request of the local prosecutor, as a reward for his valuable "undercover work."
Monteilh was ruined as an informant, but he was already out of jail by the time the FBI turned its attention to Ahmad Niazi.
Monteilh after his cover was blown. In June 2008, an anguished Niazi went to Ayloush's CAIR office to report that the FBI was threatening to prosecute him for "perjury" because of his failure to report his distant, attenuated, inconsequential "connection" to terrorism.
Unlike Monteilh, Niazi had never harmed another human being -- yet he was told that he faced more than 30 years in prison unless he was willing to become an informant.
"I came to America thinking this was a free country and I'd be treated with dignity and humanity," a tearful Niazi told Ayloush. The FBI has done more than its share to disabuse many people of such comforting delusions.
Niazi's trial was scheduled to begin in November. He would very well be headed for prison if it weren't for another plot twist worthy of an Elmore Leonard novel: After spending years of harassing Orange County Muslims and denouncing both CAIR and the ACLU of being in league with terrorists, Monteih allied himself with them in a lawsuit against the FBI.
In September 2009, Monteilh filed a $10 million lawsuit against the FBI (which doesn't appear likely to proceed at this point). A 28-page deposition he filed in that suit described how his handlers "gave me a quota to collect contact information for ten new Muslims per day." According to Monteilh, Federal Joint Terrorism Task Forces were running many infiltration/provocation operations "in areas with the biggest concentrations of Muslim Americans -- New York; the Dearborn, Michigan area, and the Orange County/Los Angeles area."
A few months before filing that declaration, Monteilh had offered additional details in a motion he filed to set aside the CAIR restraining order.
In July 2006, while Monteilh was working as a "self-employed fitness consultant" -- a rather sanitized description of the previously described scam -- he was "contacted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was was asked by them to act as an informant, as to potential terrorist activities in Orange County," he testified under oath.
Monteilh's handlers were identified as FBI Special Agents Tracy Hanlon, Paul Allen, and Kevin Armstrong, who acted under the direction of "Assistant Director of the Los Angeles Region of the FBI, J. Steven Tidwell, along with Special Agent in charge Barbara Walls."
Monteilh's assignment was carried out "pursuant to a National Security Directive called OPERATION FLEX, which was signed by President Bush as executive order #12356," he claims in his affidavit. With amazing candor, Monteilh describes how he was instructed "to advance an agenda that involved organizing terrorist activities, making reference to `jihad' (Holy War) and organizing terrorist plots and activities":
"At the direction of the FBI he attempted to infiltrate and spy on the activities of the members of the [Irvine] Mosque in an effort to uncover potential terrorists and plots against the Government. He was instructed by his handlers to act in a manner that suggested that he was a terrorist.... His actions made many of the members of the Mosque uncomfortable and the Attorney for the Mosque[,] Omar Siddiqui[,] contacted him in an effort to get him to stop attending regular prayers." (Emphasis added.)
This simply can't be any clearer: It was the FBI's implanted thug who was advancing a terrorist "agenda" at the Irvine Mosque, and the faithful Muslims who threw him out. Furthermore, the Muslim immigrant who dutifully reported the FBI's infiltrator was threatened with a long prison term if he didn't "volunteer" to serve as a replacement provocateur.
"If half of what he is saying is true," commented CAIR's Ayloush of Monteilh's claims, "Americans would come to the conclusion some FBI agents were being trained by the KGB." This isn't strictly true: Since July 1994, when then-FBI Director Louis Freeh signed an accord in Moscow with the leadership of the FSB (the KGB's successor organization), the political police in both Russia and the USSA have been full-fledged partners in "counter"-terrorism. As was the case with Orwell's allegorical pig-men, it's difficult to say which has been the more corrupting influence on the other.
William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.
Copyright © 2010 William Norman Grigg