His name is Farouk al-Aziz… at least that’s what he was known by at his local Irvine, California mosque. “Farouk” is actually Craig Monteilh. His FBI “code name” was “Oracle.” Apparently the feds believed he helped them see the future, as the name would indicate.
“Farouk” wondered into the Orange County mosque along with locations throughout two neighboring counties, including Los Angeles. This region of Southern California is home the largest Muslim populations in the nation.
Monteilh was told to infiltrate mosques, starting in his own City of Irvine. His story was that he was a French Syrian in search of his “roots.” This would explain his relative ignorance of religiously technical issues, history and law. He could then even subtly justify getting to know Muslim women in a way that is less than religiously-traditional.
Monteilh says the FBI encouraged him to go as far as having sexual relationships with unsuspecting Muslim woman, in his attempt to learn more about intel targets.
Strangely, at the first and primary mosque Monteilh was told to infiltrate, the FBI had already been invited to speak, way back in 2006. J. Stephen Tidwell, the then head of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, gave a lecture about infiltration, intelligence-gathering and the like.
“If we’re going to mosques to come to services, we will tell you,” he said. “The FBI will tell you we’re coming for the very reason that we don’t want you to think you’re being monitored. We would come only to learn.”
That made all of this even more ironic. It was only two month later that the FBI sent Monteilh to the same mosque… Technically they didn’t lie, they didn’t come to the mosque, their informant – “The Oracle” – did.
Monteilh was told by the FBI to make note of even the most innocent things… like who came to the open the mosque on what days of the week.
Mosque-goers noticed something was off. For starters, Monteilh would “forget” his keys around the mosque, Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said.
“It seemed strange to people,” Ayloush explained.
The reason he was “forgetting” the keys quickly became clear. Inside of the car remote was a microphone that the FBI was using to record conversations in the mosque.
“We started hearing that he was saying weird things,” Omar Kurdi, a Loyola Law School student who met Monteilh at the mosque recalled.
Monteilh would try to get people to go to the gym with them, offering them fitness advice and telling them he was a personal trainer. Once on the weights, the FBI information “would walk up… and say, ‘It’s good that you guys are getting ready for the jihad.”
Monteilh was originally approached by the FBI having served time for using fraudulent checks. The FBI approached him first to go after organized crime, due to contacts in the Chino Prison. But later he was used for these mosque infiltration gigs that the feds dubbed “Operation Flex.”
“The FBI paid me to infiltrate mosques in Los Angeles and Orange County in Southern California, as a very broad surveillance operation to give them the personal information of Muslims,” he said.
But that “personal information” was really just the email addresses, cell phone numbers, names of known associates and where they went to mosque… all of completely innocent people.
As for how Monteilh learned to “pretend to be Muslim,” he says that he learned the Five Pillars from the feds.
“The FBI trained me in the tenets of Islam, in the elementary principles of Arabic, and just to blend into the community and to slowly integrate myself as a Muslim male,” he said.
“I portrayed myself as a unmarried male, although I was married,” he added. “Within the Muslim community, they would help me to get a bride, so they would introduce me to single Muslim women. I would go out on dates and things like that… [My FBI handlers] instructed me, if I was getting good intel, to allow it to go into sexual relations.”
But his cover was blown when the crazy things he was saying about “jihad” got him reported repeatedly to the FBI by mosque-goers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, which eventually filed a restraining order against him.
Monteilh now admits that no one really used the sort of rhetoric that he did unless they first received some “inciting” from him. Then, “they’d follow my lead,” he said.
How much was he getting paid for this? More than you’d probably think. Those email addresses and the like were worth $11,200 per month. That big pay day “clouded his judgement,” he said.
“I began to be conflicted because I was spying on innocent people. They were not involved in criminal activity,” he recalled. “They were not espousing terrorist rhetoric, but I was still spying on them and giving the FBI the information they wanted.”
Now Monteilh speaks out against the FBI’s informant program and says he was planning to testifyin a class action lawsuit against the feds. But the government threw out that case was dismissed because risked exposing “state secrets.”
(Article by M.A. Hussein and Zeidy David)