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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Informant files $10 million suit against FBI

Orange County Register


A man who once worked with the FBI, allegedly feeding the agency information on local mosques and Muslim communities throughout the county, has today filed a $10 million civil liberties lawsuit against the federal agency.

The suit goes into detail on work that Craig Monteilh, a convicted felon, alleges he did for the FBI while working with the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task force – much of which has been widely reported by the media since Monteilh went public with his claims in 2009. The lawsuit says Monteilh was encouraged to lie to investigators with the Irvine Police Department regarding a criminal investigation alleged to be part of an FBI drug sting operation.

After he was convicted in 2008 on charges of grand theft related to the distribution of steroids, the lawsuit says that the FBI turned its back on Monteilh – after he was identified as a snitch inside Central Men's Jail and Wasco State Prison.

"Mr. Monteilh communicated his grave concerns over the threats on his life to the FBI and asked for the FBI to arrange for protective custody, but instead he was left in general population, thereby exposed to constant danger of being killed," the suit reads.

According to the suit, on April 27, 2008 Monteilh was attacked and stabbed by a member of a white supremacist gang inside Wasco State Prison, after several criminal gangs had placed "hits" on him.

"Mr. Monteilh continues to live in fear for his life and with the mental and physical scars," according to the suit.

Officials at the FBI declined to speak about the lawsuit, citing department policy, but addressed some of the details in Monteilh's claims, saying in a written statement that, "the accusations appear to be an attempt by Mr. Monteilh to discredit law enforcement for personal gain, at the expense of the Muslim-American community."

The 2007 grand theft arrest, which Monteilh claims was done under the direction of FBI agents, was not part of any investigation conducted by the FBI, said Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the department.


The lawsuit, filed in US District Court, names not only the agency but singles out the head of Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Santa Ana office Barbara Walls, as well as Ron Carr, an investigator with the Irvine Police Department.

The suit alleges that Monteilh had provided agents with information about bomb-making materials being stored in a mosque, but that Walls did not act on the information for three weeks.

"Walls was embarrassed and instead of accepting responsibility for her error in judgment, called Mr. Monteilh a liar," reads the lawsuit.

According to the suit, "Walls determined she would remove Mr. Monteilh from the FBI Counterterrorism program and thereafter began to conspire with Detective Ron Carr (...) to set Mr. Monteilh up for felony prosecution and conviction."

A law enforcement official familiar with the case but asked not to be identified because they are not allowed to speak publicly about the case said that although Monteilh had provided information regarding "suspicious barrels" in a local mosque, the information was thoroughly investigated and, "no evidence was found indicating a threat from explosives."

In 2009, Monteilh filed a claim for the same amount against the FBI. In December, the claim was denied by the agency.


The FBI has neither confirmed nor denied his assertions publicly, but according to court records unsealed in December, prosecutors in Los Angeles asked to terminate his probation early at the request of the FBI because Monteilh had provided "very valuable information" in a federal prosecution.

His claims were also partially substantiated in February 2009, when an FBI agent in court said an informant had recorded a Tustin man making jihadist remarks. That man, Ahmoudullah Niazi, is facing several immigration fraud charges. Monteilh claims he was the informant who recorded Niazi.

The lawsuit goes into detail about the operation Monteilh said he participated in, details which have not been reported before.

Named "Operation Flex," Monteilh was told to take on the name Farouk-al-Aziz, but was given a code name, "Oracle," according to the suit.

"Assistant United States Attorney Dierdra Eliot gave Mr. Monteilh special permission, by and through a signed Federal document, to engage in jihadist rhetoric, including but not limited to conducting terrorist operations, possessing weapons and initiating conversations to further terrorist acts against the United States," the lawsuit states.

Eliot did not immediately return calls for comment, but Eimiller said the agency does not encourage informants, verbally or in writing, to engage in terrorist rhetoric or operations.


But such claims echo those that have been made by Muslim organizations across the country, whose leaders have said that informants planted within their communities have not weeded out violent extremists, but instead have been the very ones to push violent agendas and conversations in their communities.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles Chapter, said it's not the use of informants that worries him, but allegations and consistent reports that informants incite violent rhetoric inside the Muslim community, and reports that agents use immigration, financial, and legal tactics to strong-arm people into becoming informants.

"We should all be informants," Ayloush said, stating that everyone in the country should report suspicious activities to law enforcement. "But they are acting like agent provocateurs."

Ayloush said it was concerning how many resources the FBI was spending on "fishing" instead of focusing efforts on legitimate leads.

Although the FBI has not commented directly on Monteilh's alleged role as an informant, or the work he says he did at the direction of FBI agents, the bureau has repeatedly issued statements denying that it racially profiles, and that agents conduct investigations only where leads take them.

Ayloush said he is not convinced, and that a vital tie between the Muslim community and the FBI remains strained.

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