Friday, February 27, 2009
Orange County Man Claims to Have Infiltrated Local Mosque
Federal agents at the home of Ahmadullah Sais Niazi
Today's Orange County Register is reporting an interview (yesterday) with an Orange County man who claims he acted as an FBI informant infiltrating an Irvine mosque from July 2006 to October 2007. The interview comes in the wake of the arrest this past week of Afghan national Ahmadullah Sais Niazi of nearby Tustin on immigration-fraud charges. (Niazi is charged with lying in his application for US citizenship and a US passport and hiding connections to terrorist organizations. Niazi also reportedly has a brother-in-law believed to be Osama bin Laden's security coordinator.)
The Register has concluded that the man who was interviewed yesterday, Craig Monteilh (46), was also acting as the specific informant who had recorded conversations in which Niazi allegedly talked of conducting Jihad, blowing up empty buildings, and setting off explosives in shopping centers.
The FBI will neither confirm nor deny that Monteilh has acted as their informant. However, according to the Register, the testimony of an FBI agent in a bail hearing for Niazi seems to confirm Monteilh's claims.
What is known is that Monteilh is a convicted felon and has served time in prison for fraud and grand theft.
In 2007, the Islamic Center of Irvine, along with the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR), took out a restraining order on Monteilh and reported him to the FBI, stating that he held violent views and was making references to Jihad. Monteilh claims that the mosque was beginning to suspect they were being monitored.
There have been reports in the past couple of years (and complaints from the local Muslim community) that the FBI was investigating the Irvine mosque. This article would seem to confirm that suspicion.
As for Mr Monteilh, his credibility automatically comes into question based on his criminal history and this curious interview (informants don't normally give newspaper interviews publicizing their actions.) It appears, however, that his cooperation with the FBI was already known to those he was attempting to infiltrate and with whom he was recording conversations. The burning question is whether the mosque and CAIR came forward because they wanted to turn in a terror suspect or because they knew or suspected that he was an informant.
Should Monteilh be called as a witness, the jury will be properly instructed to consider his testimony with great scrutiny due to his criminal past. Ultimately, Monteihl's credibility will rest on whatever corroborating evidence the FBI and police have gathered-including of course, the tape recordings, which will be crucial to any future prosecution.
This is a case that bears following.