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  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 5:27 am on April 2, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Islamophobia, , , ,   

    Anti-Muslim Hate Comes to Hillsborough County School Board Meeting 


    Parents, and Adults attend a Hillsborough School Board Meeting

    Hillsboroughbilly County, Florida–

    In November 2011, a Tampa, Fla., high school invited a Muslim lecturer, Hassan Shibly to speak about Islamic history and tradition to college level advanced placement students. When anti-Muslim extremists David Caton and Terry Kemple found out, they brought dozens of Islamophobes to spread lies, fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims at school board meetings (H/T: A. Lessirey):

    David Caton was described in a Tampa Bay Times column as a “theo thug,” and a “Biblical bully” with a history of anti-Muslim activism:

    Perhaps the best way to get your hands around this latest example of theo-thugs gone wild is to think of local sanctimonious mouth foamer David Caton as the North Korea of faux piety.

    For whenever Caton feels he’s fallen off the publicity-hound radar and isn’t being paid enough attention, the vicar of vituperativeness feels compelled to engage in some really daffy behavior as if to reassure the world he’s just as loopy as ever.

    Well, brother and sisters — he’s back! It was this man of fleece who just a few weeks ago managed to persuade Lowe’s, a Fortune 500 company, to drop its sponsorship of All-American Muslim on TLC.

    Caton got his sackcloth in a wad because the series revealed Muslims in America are quite capable of living just as stultifyingly boring, law-abiding lives as Protestants, rather than spending their days assembling car bombs.

    And Lowe’s fell for it, acquiescing to the Islamaphobic demands of a single illiterate hate-monger who should have about as much influence on the affairs of the day as the defense minister of Groucho Marx’s Freedonia.

    Now, fresh off his Florida Family Association campaign to make Lowe’s look like corporate America’s answer to a cowering puppy that just piddled on the kitchen floor, Caton, the Ernst Blofeld of the Bible, has set his myopic sights on Kelly Miliziano, a history teacher at Steinbrenner High School, who committed the unpardonable, unforgiveable sin of (dare it be said) educating her students.

    For several years Miliziano has invited speakers representing various faiths to meet with her classes. The idea here is to expose students to a range of ideas and beliefs, which in the end will serve to make them better informed, discerning, well-rounded, independent-thinking, educated members of society.

    Miliziano obviously posed a threat to Caton’s recruitment efforts. After all, if these kids learn stuff, well, the next thing you know, they’ll figure out obtuse gasbags like Caton are full of hooey. And that’s bad for the bigotry business, which needs a steady stream of lemmings to keep the flames of malevolence burning.

    Another Tampa Bay Times article described the school board meeting as one of “did-I-just-hear-that” intolerance. It went on to criticize Caton and Kemple, saying,

    What’s not good is wrapping your hands around the eyes and ears of kids out of fear. What’s not good is assuming a local Muslim leader, a young lawyer raising a family here, comes not to educate but to indoctrinate and steal young minds — and that teachers are either in on it or too clueless to care.

    Such rhetoric is unhelpful and it seems that students who actually participated in the class don’t think it was a big deal.

    But for those who believe they are on a Crusade against Islam, such as Caton and Kemple the Muslim speaker’s presentation represents the apocalypse!

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 5:27 am on April 2, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , Islamophobia, , , ,   

    Anti-Muslim Hate Comes to Hillsborough County School Board Meeting 


    Parents, and Adults attend a Hillsborough School Board Meeting

    Hillsboroughbilly County, Florida–

    In November 2011, a Tampa, Fla., high school invited a Muslim lecturer, Hassan Shibly to speak about Islamic history and tradition to college level advanced placement students. When anti-Muslim extremists David Caton and Terry Kemple found out, they brought dozens of Islamophobes to spread lies, fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims at school board meetings (H/T: A. Lessirey):

    David Caton was described in a Tampa Bay Times column as a “theo thug,” and a “Biblical bully” with a history of anti-Muslim activism:

    Perhaps the best way to get your hands around this latest example of theo-thugs gone wild is to think of local sanctimonious mouth foamer David Caton as the North Korea of faux piety.

    For whenever Caton feels he’s fallen off the publicity-hound radar and isn’t being paid enough attention, the vicar of vituperativeness feels compelled to engage in some really daffy behavior as if to reassure the world he’s just as loopy as ever.

    Well, brother and sisters — he’s back! It was this man of fleece who just a few weeks ago managed to persuade Lowe’s, a Fortune 500 company, to drop its sponsorship of All-American Muslim on TLC.

    Caton got his sackcloth in a wad because the series revealed Muslims in America are quite capable of living just as stultifyingly boring, law-abiding lives as Protestants, rather than spending their days assembling car bombs.

    And Lowe’s fell for it, acquiescing to the Islamaphobic demands of a single illiterate hate-monger who should have about as much influence on the affairs of the day as the defense minister of Groucho Marx’s Freedonia.

    Now, fresh off his Florida Family Association campaign to make Lowe’s look like corporate America’s answer to a cowering puppy that just piddled on the kitchen floor, Caton, the Ernst Blofeld of the Bible, has set his myopic sights on Kelly Miliziano, a history teacher at Steinbrenner High School, who committed the unpardonable, unforgiveable sin of (dare it be said) educating her students.

    For several years Miliziano has invited speakers representing various faiths to meet with her classes. The idea here is to expose students to a range of ideas and beliefs, which in the end will serve to make them better informed, discerning, well-rounded, independent-thinking, educated members of society.

    Miliziano obviously posed a threat to Caton’s recruitment efforts. After all, if these kids learn stuff, well, the next thing you know, they’ll figure out obtuse gasbags like Caton are full of hooey. And that’s bad for the bigotry business, which needs a steady stream of lemmings to keep the flames of malevolence burning.

    Another Tampa Bay Times article described the school board meeting as one of “did-I-just-hear-that” intolerance. It went on to criticize Caton and Kemple, saying,

    What’s not good is wrapping your hands around the eyes and ears of kids out of fear. What’s not good is assuming a local Muslim leader, a young lawyer raising a family here, comes not to educate but to indoctrinate and steal young minds — and that teachers are either in on it or too clueless to care.

    Such rhetoric is unhelpful and it seems that students who actually participated in the class don’t think it was a big deal.

    But for those who believe they are on a Crusade against Islam, such as Caton and Kemple the Muslim speaker’s presentation represents the apocalypse!

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 12:51 am on April 1, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , GOP, , , , Islamophobia, , , , , , ,   

    Sheldon Adelson: “All Terrorists are Islamic” 


    Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

    Newt Gingrich’s former, and Mitt Romney’s soon-to-be sugar-daddy, Sheldon Adelson recently commented on terrorism, and how he believes all terrorists are “Islamic” or “Islamist.”

    Sheldon Adelson could have saved himself from looking like a complete doofus and unintelligent moron if he read our most popular article: “All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% of Terrorists that Aren’t”

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 12:51 am on April 1, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , Islamophobia, , , , , , ,   

    Sheldon Adelson: “All Terrorists are Islamic” 


    Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

    Newt Gingrich’s former, and Mitt Romney’s soon-to-be sugar-daddy, Sheldon Adelson recently commented on terrorism, and how he believes all terrorists are “Islamic” or “Islamist.”

    Sheldon Adelson could have saved himself from looking like a complete doofus and unintelligent moron if he read our most popular article: “All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% of Terrorists that Aren’t”

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 5:08 am on March 27, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , Bias Crime, Christopher M. Sanford, Cleveland, Hate Crime, , , Islamophobia, Loon Violence, Muslims, Ohio, threat   

    Man Pleads Guilty to Hanging Camel with Noose on Muslim’s Apartment Door in Cleveland 


    Hmmm, wonder if this young man was motivated by ISLAMOPHOBIA? Oh, but it doesn’t exist, right?

    Man pleads guilty to hanging camel with noose on Muslim’s apartment door in Cleveland

    CLEVELAND – A Middleburg Heights man pleaded guilty to putting a plastic camel with a noose around its neck on the apartment door of a Muslim person.

    Christopher M. Sanford, 25, entered a guilty plea to interfering with housing rights of another based on the victim’s race, religion or national origin.

    The U.S. Department of Justice said that on the morning of Dec. 1, 2009, Sanford took a plastic camel and a noose, and hung them on the door of the victim, identified only as A.F.A. The victim is a native of Jordan, who is Arab and Muslim, and lived in the Stonebridge Apartments in downtown Cleveland.

    “The freedom of all Americans to live where they wish, without fear or threats based on their religion or race, is central to our way of life as Americans and Ohioans. This conduct violates those core values, values that we will continue to uphold through appropriate federal prosecutions,” said. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.

    Sanford said he used the plastic camel because of the victim’s race and religion, Dettelbach said.

    Sanford will be sentenced on June 18. He faces up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine.

    Read more: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/cleveland_metro/man-pleads-guilty-to-hanging-camel-with-noose-on-muslims-apartment-door-in-cleveland#ixzz1qH0nTgxF

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 10:30 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , Fake Ex-Terrorist, , , Islamophobia, Kamal Saleem, , MotherJones, , Walid Shoebat, Wally Winter   

    Fake Ex-Terrorist Fraudster Kamal Saleem: I Was a Terrorist…Seriously! 


    We’ve done several pieces on the fake ex-terrorist con that Kamal Saleem and his buddy Walid Shoebat have been pulling for years now. No matter how much evidence or facts are shown, gullible folks who so desperately want to believe Kamal’s story continue to fall for it and send him money:

    I Was a Terrorist…Seriously!

    by Tim Jones (MotherJones)

    As Michigan state legislators considered a plan to curb illegal immigration last fall, they heard dramatic testimony from a man namedKamal Saleem. He warned the lawmakers that Islamic extremists were sneaking into the country with nefarious plans. “If we don’t pass this bill,” the fiftysomething Lebanese American told them, “we will be legalizing terrorism to be part of our culture.”

    Saleem’s testimony was rooted in an extraordinary backstory: He purports to have spent half a decade recruiting Islamists in America—before finding Christ and laying down arms. “I came to the United States of America not to love you all,” he declared at a rally on the Capitol steps after the hearing. “I came to…destroy this country as a terrorist.”

    Over the last five years, Saleem’s tale of terror and redemption has made him a minor celebrity among Christian conservatives. Part national-security wonk, part evangelist, he is one of a handful of self-described “ex-terrorists” who have emerged in the post-9/11 era to share their experiences. He has spoken in state capitols, at the Air Force Academy, and at colleges and churches around the country. He has been a guest on Pat Robertson’s 700 Cluband started his own nonprofit, Koome Ministries, of which he was the only full-time employee in 2009. Tax records show Saleem earned $48,000 from the ministry that year—and had a $39,000 expense account—while Koome took in nearly $100,000 in donations and grants.

    According to his memoir, The Blood of Lambs, Saleem, who grew up in Lebanon, broke into the terror biz at the age of seven by running weapons—strapped onto sheep—for Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat (who kissed his forehead at a public ceremony, “his breath bearing tales of garlic and onion”). As a teenager, he helped run a terrorist camp in the Libyan desert at the behest of Moammar Qaddafi. He visited Iraq, where he rubbed shoulders with Saddam Hussein. In the late 1970s, he traveled to Afghanistan, working alongside the mujahideen and CIA spooks to beat back the Soviets. A Kansas City Star columnist skeptically dubbed him the “Forrest Gump of the Middle East.

    Saleem claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has put a $25 million bounty on his head, and that there have been attempts to earn it: After a 2007 event in Chino Hills, California, he writes in his book, he returned to his Holiday Inn to find his room ransacked and a band of dangerous Middle Easterners on his trail. Saleem describes calling the police to alert them to an assassination attempt. Local law enforcement, however, has no record of any such incident.

    That’s just one of many of Saleem’s tales that don’t stand up to scrutiny. (Through a spokeswoman, Saleem refused to comment for this story.) Doug Howard, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Michigan’s Calvin College, first encountered Saleem in 2007, when he was invited to speak at the school. Howard quickly became suspicious: For starters, Saleem claimed to be a descendant of the “Grand Wazir of Islam,” a position that doesn’t exist. Howard dug deeper and discovered that Saleem’s original name was Khodor Shami—and that for more than a decade before outing himself as a former terrorist he had worked for Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. (CBN declined to comment. Focus on the Family confirmed Saleem was an employee but would not comment further.)

    A former friend also sheds light on Saleem’s past. Wally Winter, a nurse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, first met him when they both worked at a hospital in Abu Dhabi in 1979. Two years later, he got a phone call from Saleem; he’d come to the United States and needed help. Winter says he welcomed Saleem into his spare bedroom, opened a bank account for him, taught him how to drive, and helped get him a job at the hospital where he worked near Oklahoma City. When Winter moved to the city, Saleem came along. “He had no money,” Winter says. “I had to drive him wherever he was going.” The two were close; Winter would bring Saleem to his parents’ home on holidays.

    Winter recalls his former roommate as a devout Muslim whose yarns often lapsed into wild exaggeration. “He could sell swampland in Louisiana,” Winter says. “I really do not believe the story about the terrorism. I totally believe that he would make up something like that to either make money or become well known.”

    A cloud of doubt also hangs over Saleem’s frequent speaking partner, Walid Shoebat, another converted ex-terrorist who runs a ministry and whose books include Why I Left Jihadand Why We Want to Kill You. Shoebat has offered contradicting statements on whether he uses an assumed name. An Israeli bank he claims to have bombed in the 1970s has said it has no record of the incident; a spokesman for Shoebat says that’s probably because the attack “caused no injury and minor damage.”

    Wouldn’t authorities have some interest in someone who claims to have been involved in some of the biggest Middle Eastern militant movements of the 1970s and ’80s? Saleem claims that local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have “reached out” to him to learn about “the Islamist mindset and tactics.” But Kathleen Wright, an FBI spokeswoman, says she has “no information that Kamal Saleem has spoken at an FBI-sponsored event.” She could not say definitively whether the bureau had ever been in contact with him. Winter, for his part, says he has never been questioned by authorities about his former roommate.

    Ironically, this apparent lack of official scrutiny may be the strongest evidence against Saleem’s credibility. As Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, puts it, “The FBI or the Department of Homeland Security don’t let people who are terrorists into the country and not detain them just because they claim they got the Holy Ghost.”

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 8:33 pm on March 21, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , Craig Monteilh, FBI, , , , Islamophobia,   

    The ex-FBI Informant with a Change of Heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’ 


    Craig Monteilh

    The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

     in Irvine, California

    Craig Monteilh describes how he pretended to be a radical Muslim in order to root out potential threats, shining a light on some of the bureau’s more ethically murky practices

    Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, 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. So I did,” Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques.

    It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.

    Monteilh was involved in one of the most controversial tactics: the use of “confidential informants” in so-called entrapment cases. This is when suspects carry out or plot fake terrorist “attacks” at the request or under the close supervision of an FBI undercover operation using secret informants. Often those informants have serious criminal records or are supplied with a financial motivation to net suspects.

    In the case of the Newburgh Four – where four men were convicted for a fake terror attack on Jewish targets in the Bronx – a confidential informant offered $250,000, a free holiday and a car to one suspect for help with the attack.

    In the case of the Fort Dix Five, which involved a fake plan to attack a New Jersey military base, one informant’s criminal past included attempted murder, while another admitted in court at least two of the suspects later jailed for life had not known of any plot.

    Such actions have led Muslim civil rights groups to wonder if their communities are being unfairly targeted in a spying game that is rigged against them. Monteilh says that is exactly what happens. “The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed,” he said.

    But Monteilh has regrets now about his involvement in a scheme called Operation Flex. Sitting in the kitchen of his modest home in Irvine, near Los Angeles, Monteilh said the FBI should publicly apologise for his fruitless quest to root out Islamic radicals in Orange County, though he does not hold out much hope that will happen. “They don’t have the humility to admit a mistake,” he said.

    Monteilh’s story sounds like something out of a pulp thriller. Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.

    He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.

    Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County’s Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency.

    Monteilh does not look like a spy. He is massively well built, but soft-spoken and friendly. He is 49 but looks younger. He lives in a small rented home in Irvine that blends into the suburban sprawl of southernCalifornia. Yet Monteilh knows the spying game intimately well.

    By his own account Monteilh got into undercover work after meeting a group of off-duty cops working out in a gym. Monteilh told them he had spent time in prison in Chino, serving time for passing fraudulent checks.

    It is a criminal past he explains by saying he was traumatised by a nasty divorce. “It was a bad time in my life,” he said. He and the cops got to talking about the criminals Monteilh had met while in Chino. The information was so useful that Monteilh says he began to work on undercover drug and organised crime cases.

    Eventually he asked to work on counter-terrorism and was passed on to two FBI handlers, called Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen. These two agents had a mission and an alias ready-made for him.

    Posing as Farouk Aziz he would infiltrate local mosques and Islamic groups around Orange County. “Paul Allen said: ‘Craig, you are going to be our computer worm. Our guy that gives us the real pulse of the Muslim community in America’,” Monteilh said.

    The operation began simply enough. Monteilh started hanging out at mosques, posing as Aziz, and explaining he wanted to learn more about religion. In July, 2006, at the Islamic Center of Irvine, he converted to Islam.

    Monteilh also began attending other mosques, including the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Monteilh began circulating endlessly from mosque to mosque, spending long days in prayer or reading books or just hanging out in order to get as many people as possible to talk to him.

    “Slowly I began to wear the robes, the hat, the scarf and they saw me slowly transform and growing a beard. At that point, about three or four months later, [my FBI handlers] said: ‘OK, now start to ask questions’.”

    Those questions were aimed at rooting out radicals. Monteilh would talk of his curiosity over the concepts of jihad and what Muslims should do about injustices in the world, especially where it pertained to American foreign policy.

    He talked of access to weapons, a possible desire to be a martyr and inquired after like-minded souls. It was all aimed at trapping people in condemning statements. “The skill is that I am going to get you to say something. I am cornering you to say “jihad”,” he said.

    Of course, the chats were recorded.

    In scenes out of a James Bond movie, Monteilh said he sometimes wore a secret video recorder sewn into his shirt. At other times he activated an audio recorder on his key rings.

    Monteilh left his keys in offices and rooms in the mosques that he attended in the hope of recording conversations that took place when he was not here. He did it so often that he earned a reputation with other worshippers for being careless with his keys. The recordings were passed back to his FBI handlers at least once a week.

    He also met with them every two months at a hotel room in nearby Anaheim for a more intense debriefing. Monteilh says he was grilled on specific individuals and asked to view charts showing networks of relationships among Orange County’s Muslim population.

    He said the FBI had two basic aims. Firstly, they aimed to uncover potential militants. Secondly, they could also use any information Monteilh discovered – like an affair or someone being gay – to turn targeted people into becoming FBI informants themselves.

    None of it seemed to unnerve his FBI bosses, not even when he carried out a suggestion to begin seducing Muslim women and recording them.

    At one hotel meeting, agent Kevin Armstrong explained the FBI attitude towards the immense breadth of Operation Flex – and any concerns over civil rights – by saying simply: “Kevin is God.”

    Monteilh’s own attitude evolved into something very similar. “I was untouchable. I am a felon, I am on probation and the police cannot arrest me. How empowering is that? It is very empowering. You began to have a certain arrogance about it. It is almost taunting. They told me: ‘You are an untouchable’,” he said.

    But it was not always easy. “I started at 4am. I ended at 9.30pm. Really, it was a lot of work … Farouk took over. Craig did not exist,” he said. But it was also well paid: at the peak of Operation Flex, Monteilh was earning more than $11,000 a month.

    But he was wrong about being untouchable.

    Far from uncovering radical terror networks, Monteilh ended up traumatising the community he was sent into. Instead of embracing calls for jihad or his questions about suicide bombers or his claims to have access to weapons, Monteilh was instead reported to the FBI as a potentially dangerous extremist.

    A restraining order was also taken out against him in June 2007, asking him to stay away from the Islamic Center of Irvine. Operation Flex was a bust and Monteilh had to kill off his life as Farouk Aziz.

    But the story did not end there. In circumstances that remain murky Monteilh then sued the FBI over his treatment, claiming that they abandoned him once the operation was over.

    He also ended up in jail after Irvine police prosecuted him for defrauding two women, including a former girlfriend, as part of an illegal trade in human growth hormone at fitness clubs. (Monteilh claims those actions were carried out as part of another secret string operation for which he was forced to carry the can.)

    What is not in doubt is that Monteilh’s identity later became public. In 2009 the FBI brought a case against Ahmad Niazi, an Afghan immigrant in Orange County.

    The evidence included secret recordings and even calling Osama bin Laden “an angel”. That was Monteilh’s work and he outed himself to the press to the shock of the very Muslims he had been spying on who now realised that Farouk Aziz – the radical they had reported to the FBI two years earlier – had in fact been an undercover FBI operative.

    Now Monteilh says he set Niazi up and the FBI was trying to blackmail the Afghani into being an informant. “I built the whole relationship with Niazi. Through my coercion we talked about jihad a lot,” he said. The FBI’s charges against Niazi were indeed later dropped.

    Now Monteilh has joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the FBI. Amazingly, after first befriending Muslim leaders in Orange County as Farouk Aziz, then betraying them as Craig Monteilh, he has now joined forces with them again to campaign for their civil liberties.

    That has now put Monteilh’s testimony about his year undercover is at the heart of a fresh legal effort to prove that the FBI operation in Orange County unfairly targeted a vulnerable Muslim community, trampling on civil rights in the name of national security.

    The FBI did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

    It is not the first time Monteilh has shifted his stance. In the ACLU case Monteilh is now posing as the sorrowful informant who saw the error of his ways.

    But in previous court papers filed against the Irvine Police and the FBI, Monteilh’s lawyers portrayed him as the loyal intelligence asset who did sterling work tackling the forces of Islamic radicalism and was let down by his superiors.

    In those papers Monteilh complained that FBI agents did not act speedily enough on a tip he gave them about a possible sighting of bomb-making materials. Now Monteilh says that tip was not credible.

    Either way it does add up to a story that shifts with the telling. But that fact alone goes to the heart of the FBI’s use of such confidential informants in investigating Muslim communities.

    FBI operatives with profiles similar to Monteilh’s – of a lengthy criminal record, desire for cash and a flexibility with the truth – have led to high profile cases of alleged entrapment that have shocked civil rights groups across America.

    In most cases the informants have won their prosecutions and simply disappeared. Monteilh is the only one speaking out. But whatever the reality of his year undercover, Monteilh is almost certainly right about one impact of Operation Flex and the exposure of his undercover activities: “Because of this the Muslim community will never trust the FBI again.”

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 8:33 pm on March 21, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , Islamophobia, , Paul Harris   

    The ex-FBI Informant with a Change of Heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’ 


    Craig Monteilh

    The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: ‘There is no real hunt. It’s fixed’

     in Irvine, California

    Craig Monteilh describes how he pretended to be a radical Muslim in order to root out potential threats, shining a light on some of the bureau’s more ethically murky practices

    Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, 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. So I did,” Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques.

    It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.

    Monteilh was involved in one of the most controversial tactics: the use of “confidential informants” in so-called entrapment cases. This is when suspects carry out or plot fake terrorist “attacks” at the request or under the close supervision of an FBI undercover operation using secret informants. Often those informants have serious criminal records or are supplied with a financial motivation to net suspects.

    In the case of the Newburgh Four – where four men were convicted for a fake terror attack on Jewish targets in the Bronx – a confidential informant offered $250,000, a free holiday and a car to one suspect for help with the attack.

    In the case of the Fort Dix Five, which involved a fake plan to attack a New Jersey military base, one informant’s criminal past included attempted murder, while another admitted in court at least two of the suspects later jailed for life had not known of any plot.

    Such actions have led Muslim civil rights groups to wonder if their communities are being unfairly targeted in a spying game that is rigged against them. Monteilh says that is exactly what happens. “The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It’s such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It’s fixed,” he said.

    But Monteilh has regrets now about his involvement in a scheme called Operation Flex. Sitting in the kitchen of his modest home in Irvine, near Los Angeles, Monteilh said the FBI should publicly apologise for his fruitless quest to root out Islamic radicals in Orange County, though he does not hold out much hope that will happen. “They don’t have the humility to admit a mistake,” he said.

    Monteilh’s story sounds like something out of a pulp thriller. Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.

    He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.

    Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County’s Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency.

    Monteilh does not look like a spy. He is massively well built, but soft-spoken and friendly. He is 49 but looks younger. He lives in a small rented home in Irvine that blends into the suburban sprawl of southernCalifornia. Yet Monteilh knows the spying game intimately well.

    By his own account Monteilh got into undercover work after meeting a group of off-duty cops working out in a gym. Monteilh told them he had spent time in prison in Chino, serving time for passing fraudulent checks.

    It is a criminal past he explains by saying he was traumatised by a nasty divorce. “It was a bad time in my life,” he said. He and the cops got to talking about the criminals Monteilh had met while in Chino. The information was so useful that Monteilh says he began to work on undercover drug and organised crime cases.

    Eventually he asked to work on counter-terrorism and was passed on to two FBI handlers, called Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen. These two agents had a mission and an alias ready-made for him.

    Posing as Farouk Aziz he would infiltrate local mosques and Islamic groups around Orange County. “Paul Allen said: ‘Craig, you are going to be our computer worm. Our guy that gives us the real pulse of the Muslim community in America’,” Monteilh said.

    The operation began simply enough. Monteilh started hanging out at mosques, posing as Aziz, and explaining he wanted to learn more about religion. In July, 2006, at the Islamic Center of Irvine, he converted to Islam.

    Monteilh also began attending other mosques, including the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Monteilh began circulating endlessly from mosque to mosque, spending long days in prayer or reading books or just hanging out in order to get as many people as possible to talk to him.

    “Slowly I began to wear the robes, the hat, the scarf and they saw me slowly transform and growing a beard. At that point, about three or four months later, [my FBI handlers] said: ‘OK, now start to ask questions’.”

    Those questions were aimed at rooting out radicals. Monteilh would talk of his curiosity over the concepts of jihad and what Muslims should do about injustices in the world, especially where it pertained to American foreign policy.

    He talked of access to weapons, a possible desire to be a martyr and inquired after like-minded souls. It was all aimed at trapping people in condemning statements. “The skill is that I am going to get you to say something. I am cornering you to say “jihad”,” he said.

    Of course, the chats were recorded.

    In scenes out of a James Bond movie, Monteilh said he sometimes wore a secret video recorder sewn into his shirt. At other times he activated an audio recorder on his key rings.

    Monteilh left his keys in offices and rooms in the mosques that he attended in the hope of recording conversations that took place when he was not here. He did it so often that he earned a reputation with other worshippers for being careless with his keys. The recordings were passed back to his FBI handlers at least once a week.

    He also met with them every two months at a hotel room in nearby Anaheim for a more intense debriefing. Monteilh says he was grilled on specific individuals and asked to view charts showing networks of relationships among Orange County’s Muslim population.

    He said the FBI had two basic aims. Firstly, they aimed to uncover potential militants. Secondly, they could also use any information Monteilh discovered – like an affair or someone being gay – to turn targeted people into becoming FBI informants themselves.

    None of it seemed to unnerve his FBI bosses, not even when he carried out a suggestion to begin seducing Muslim women and recording them.

    At one hotel meeting, agent Kevin Armstrong explained the FBI attitude towards the immense breadth of Operation Flex – and any concerns over civil rights – by saying simply: “Kevin is God.”

    Monteilh’s own attitude evolved into something very similar. “I was untouchable. I am a felon, I am on probation and the police cannot arrest me. How empowering is that? It is very empowering. You began to have a certain arrogance about it. It is almost taunting. They told me: ‘You are an untouchable’,” he said.

    But it was not always easy. “I started at 4am. I ended at 9.30pm. Really, it was a lot of work … Farouk took over. Craig did not exist,” he said. But it was also well paid: at the peak of Operation Flex, Monteilh was earning more than $11,000 a month.

    But he was wrong about being untouchable.

    Far from uncovering radical terror networks, Monteilh ended up traumatising the community he was sent into. Instead of embracing calls for jihad or his questions about suicide bombers or his claims to have access to weapons, Monteilh was instead reported to the FBI as a potentially dangerous extremist.

    A restraining order was also taken out against him in June 2007, asking him to stay away from the Islamic Center of Irvine. Operation Flex was a bust and Monteilh had to kill off his life as Farouk Aziz.

    But the story did not end there. In circumstances that remain murky Monteilh then sued the FBI over his treatment, claiming that they abandoned him once the operation was over.

    He also ended up in jail after Irvine police prosecuted him for defrauding two women, including a former girlfriend, as part of an illegal trade in human growth hormone at fitness clubs. (Monteilh claims those actions were carried out as part of another secret string operation for which he was forced to carry the can.)

    What is not in doubt is that Monteilh’s identity later became public. In 2009 the FBI brought a case against Ahmad Niazi, an Afghan immigrant in Orange County.

    The evidence included secret recordings and even calling Osama bin Laden “an angel”. That was Monteilh’s work and he outed himself to the press to the shock of the very Muslims he had been spying on who now realised that Farouk Aziz – the radical they had reported to the FBI two years earlier – had in fact been an undercover FBI operative.

    Now Monteilh says he set Niazi up and the FBI was trying to blackmail the Afghani into being an informant. “I built the whole relationship with Niazi. Through my coercion we talked about jihad a lot,” he said. The FBI’s charges against Niazi were indeed later dropped.

    Now Monteilh has joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the FBI. Amazingly, after first befriending Muslim leaders in Orange County as Farouk Aziz, then betraying them as Craig Monteilh, he has now joined forces with them again to campaign for their civil liberties.

    That has now put Monteilh’s testimony about his year undercover is at the heart of a fresh legal effort to prove that the FBI operation in Orange County unfairly targeted a vulnerable Muslim community, trampling on civil rights in the name of national security.

    The FBI did not respond to a request from the Guardian for comment.

    It is not the first time Monteilh has shifted his stance. In the ACLU case Monteilh is now posing as the sorrowful informant who saw the error of his ways.

    But in previous court papers filed against the Irvine Police and the FBI, Monteilh’s lawyers portrayed him as the loyal intelligence asset who did sterling work tackling the forces of Islamic radicalism and was let down by his superiors.

    In those papers Monteilh complained that FBI agents did not act speedily enough on a tip he gave them about a possible sighting of bomb-making materials. Now Monteilh says that tip was not credible.

    Either way it does add up to a story that shifts with the telling. But that fact alone goes to the heart of the FBI’s use of such confidential informants in investigating Muslim communities.

    FBI operatives with profiles similar to Monteilh’s – of a lengthy criminal record, desire for cash and a flexibility with the truth – have led to high profile cases of alleged entrapment that have shocked civil rights groups across America.

    In most cases the informants have won their prosecutions and simply disappeared. Monteilh is the only one speaking out. But whatever the reality of his year undercover, Monteilh is almost certainly right about one impact of Operation Flex and the exposure of his undercover activities: “Because of this the Muslim community will never trust the FBI again.”

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 11:48 pm on February 19, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , Islamophobia,   

    Geert Wilders’ Hate: Not Just for Muslims Anymore 


    Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

    Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders is notorious for his hatred of Islam.

    He has compared the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kamf, referred to the Prophet Muhammad as “the devil,” and warned of a “tsunami of Islamization” in Europe. His Party for Freedom (PVV) rose to third-place status by capitalizing on economic crisis and social anxiety by scapegoating Muslim immigrants, who he has likened to Nazis.

    The shock value has worn off, and support for his political party is waning.

    So what’s a hatemonger to do?

    Wilders has declared a new enemy: Central and Eastern Europeans.  His far-right Freedom Party has captured headlines by launching a website where visitors can lodge complaints about fellow Europeans working in the Netherlands:

    Reporting Central and Eastern Europeans

    Since May 1, 2007 there is free movement of workers between the Netherlands and eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries. At present the estimates to the number of people from these countries, which resides in the Netherlands, apart from 200,000 to 350,000 people. As one of the few parties, the Freedom Party from the beginning against the opening of the labor market to Poland and other CEE nationals. Given all the problems associated with the massive arrival of especially Poland, is that attitude materialized. Recently, the PVV whatsoever against further opening of the labor market for Romanians and Bulgarians voted.

    This massive labor migration leads to many problems, nuisance, pollution, displacement and integration in the labor and housing problems. For many people, these things a serious problem. Complaints are often not reported, because the idea that nothing is done.

    Do you have trouble of CEE nationals? Or have you lost your job on a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other Central or Eastern European? We would like to hear. The Freedom Party has a platform on this website to your symptoms to report. These complaints, we will identify and offer the results to the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

    What’s this got to do with Muslims?

    The move clearly demonstrates what we’ve always known.  Wilders is an opportunist and a hardcore bigot.

    In the current climate, Islamophobia has been normalized to some degree, but the more hatemongers expose their ties to racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism, the more likely they are to  be relegated to the fringe by mainstream society.

    Wilders’ antics have already sparked a firestorm of protest, and ambassadors from ten central and east European countries have complained. In response, the European Parliament has scheduled a debate on the topic next month.

    Wilders boasted the site already had 40,000 responses and  dismissed the controversy telling reporters:

    My reaction to the ambassadors is: Mind your own business. This has nothing to do with your country. We are a sovereign country, we are a democratic political party and we voice the concerns of many Dutchmen.

    Opening a new front will undoubtedly dilute Wilders’ campaign to vilify Islam as a “unique threat” to Europe, and may further tarnish the country’s international reputation.  Whether the stunt will ultimately boost his popularity or exhaust Dutch tolerance for his peculiar brand far-right fear mongering remains to be seen.

     
  • Mahir Sayar Txaqo 11:48 pm on February 19, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , Islamophobia,   

    Geert Wilders’ Hate: Not Just for Muslims Anymore 


    Still my favorite picture of Geert Wilders

    Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders is notorious for his hatred of Islam.

    He has compared the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kamf, referred to the Prophet Muhammad as “the devil,” and warned of a “tsunami of Islamization” in Europe. His Party for Freedom (PVV) rose to third-place status by capitalizing on economic crisis and social anxiety by scapegoating Muslim immigrants, who he has likened to Nazis.

    The shock value has worn off, and support for his political party is waning.

    So what’s a hatemonger to do?

    Wilders has declared a new enemy: Central and Eastern Europeans.  His far-right Freedom Party has captured headlines by launching a website where visitors can lodge complaints about fellow Europeans working in the Netherlands:

    Reporting Central and Eastern Europeans

    Since May 1, 2007 there is free movement of workers between the Netherlands and eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries. At present the estimates to the number of people from these countries, which resides in the Netherlands, apart from 200,000 to 350,000 people. As one of the few parties, the Freedom Party from the beginning against the opening of the labor market to Poland and other CEE nationals. Given all the problems associated with the massive arrival of especially Poland, is that attitude materialized. Recently, the PVV whatsoever against further opening of the labor market for Romanians and Bulgarians voted.

    This massive labor migration leads to many problems, nuisance, pollution, displacement and integration in the labor and housing problems. For many people, these things a serious problem. Complaints are often not reported, because the idea that nothing is done.

    Do you have trouble of CEE nationals? Or have you lost your job on a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other Central or Eastern European? We would like to hear. The Freedom Party has a platform on this website to your symptoms to report. These complaints, we will identify and offer the results to the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

    What’s this got to do with Muslims?

    The move clearly demonstrates what we’ve always known.  Wilders is an opportunist and a hardcore bigot.

    In the current climate, Islamophobia has been normalized to some degree, but the more hatemongers expose their ties to racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism, the more likely they are to  be relegated to the fringe by mainstream society.

    Wilders’ antics have already sparked a firestorm of protest, and ambassadors from ten central and east European countries have complained. In response, the European Parliament has scheduled a debate on the topic next month.

    Wilders boasted the site already had 40,000 responses and  dismissed the controversy telling reporters:

    My reaction to the ambassadors is: Mind your own business. This has nothing to do with your country. We are a sovereign country, we are a democratic political party and we voice the concerns of many Dutchmen.

    Opening a new front will undoubtedly dilute Wilders’ campaign to vilify Islam as a “unique threat” to Europe, and may further tarnish the country’s international reputation.  Whether the stunt will ultimately boost his popularity or exhaust Dutch tolerance for his peculiar brand far-right fear mongering remains to be seen.

     
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