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December 5, 2010 9:27 AM   Subscribe

A worshiper at a California mosque called frequently for violent jihad against the West. This freaked out his fellow attendees so much that they took out a restraining order on him... and learned he was an informant planted by the FBI.
posted by Faint of Butt (73 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I am shocked - shocked - to find that our government would employ provocateurs to promote illegal activity by people they suspect.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:30 AM on December 5, 2010 [45 favorites]


Way to win those hearts and minds.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:34 AM on December 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


In early 2006, Monteilh said, he met with his FBI handler at a Starbucks.

"She asked if I wanted to infiltrate mosques," he said. At a follow-up session at a doughnut shop, he said, his new handler told him that "Islam is a threat to our national security." [emphasis added]
Not Osama, not al-Awlaki, not even some in the House of Saud.

No, all of Islam. Including, presumably, the good honorable American Muslims I know who work hard, pay their taxes, and do their best to get home on the Fourth of July because they want to take their daughters to see the fireworks and so viscerally communicate to their kids their patriotic feelings for America.

Good to see our FBI Protectors, following old J. Edgar's hobnailed footsteps, are still at war with nouns.
posted by orthogonality at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2010 [112 favorites]


What is wrong with the WashPost site that kills Firefox?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:38 AM on December 5, 2010


do you thimk he will get his 50$?
posted by clavdivs at 9:39 AM on December 5, 2010


"Islam is a threat to our national security."

Don't worry, we've already got Habeas Corpus via extraordinary rendition, Freedom of Speech has been detained in appropriate Free Speech zones, we're waterboarding those foreign Geneva Conventions to get further intelligence and for our plan of attack on Religious Freedom, we thought we'd start by flanking through Islam and then doing a Shock and Awe approach on the rest.

We WILL win the War on Freedom, we will chase it down, no matter where it hides, until our mission is accomplished!
posted by yeloson at 9:44 AM on December 5, 2010 [15 favorites]



Good to see our FBI Protectors, following old J. Edgar's hobnailed footsteps, are still at war with nouns.


War is repeating the same proper noun again and again until it doesn't mean anything anymore? Sounds a lot more like love.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:49 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Larry Ellison, he always was a sneaky one.
posted by scalefree at 9:49 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If we're going to mosques to come to services, we will tell you," he said, according to a video of his speech. "...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."

Two months later, in August 2006, Monteilh arrived at the same mosque. He had called earlier and met with the imam. That Friday, he took shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith, before hundreds of worshipers.
I think incompetent federal agencies are far more damaging to national security than anything else. Is there anyone left in the government that understands that you can't gather good intelligence if no one trusts you?

Entrapment is not a good substitute for real investigative efforts or solid relationships with community leaders. It's almost like they're trying to create the right environment for the next attack.
posted by notion at 9:51 AM on December 5, 2010 [30 favorites]


Why am I not surprised? I had hoped that there had been some downsizing in the dirty tricks department, but it's pretty clear that's like believing in Santa Claus.
posted by wierdo at 9:51 AM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's almost like they're trying to create the right environment for the next attack.

Well, that would justify their budget.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


notion, that might be exactly what they're doing. Just imagine all the funding.
posted by Malor at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


So he was arrested as a check forger and the FBI recruited and trained him as an undercover agent.

How much of our espionage playbook is based on The Last Starfighter exactly?
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2010 [29 favorites]




oops, that was to wierdo, not notion, sorry.
posted by Malor at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2010


The basic problem with the FBI approach to terrorism revolves around the fact that the FBI is oriented towards getting indictments and convictions. They are not interested in reducing the risk to society of terrorist violence or preventing extremists from becoming dangerous. Getting indictments and convictions requires that crimes be committed, not prevented.

And this is what we get: the FBI is actually endangering the security of the US because their goals are misplaced and wrong-headed.
posted by warbaby at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2010 [31 favorites]


It seems the largest perpetrator of terror plots in America is the FBI and the US Federal government. What the fuck?
posted by kuatto at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was going to say "Eh, more FBI ratfucking". But you've got to RTFA. This is hilarious in a gallows-humor way.
"We started hearing that he was saying weird things," said Omar Kurdi, a Loyola Law School student who knew Monteilh from the mosque and gym. "He would walk up to one of my friends and say, 'It's good that you guys are getting ready for the jihad." ...

Soon afterward, Monteilh said FBI agents "told me they wanted to cut me loose." After he vowed to go public, he said, he met with three agents at the Anaheim Hilton, where an FBI supervisor threatened him with arrest.

"She said, 'If you reveal your informant status to the media, it will destroy the Muslim community's relationship with the FBI forever." Monteilh said.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:00 AM on December 5, 2010 [19 favorites]


You mean the FBI isn't perfect, and a handful of agents may or may not have extreme views?!
posted by Brocktoon at 10:02 AM on December 5, 2010


so when are they going to infiltrate the kennels to keep us safe from chupacabras?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


You mean the FBI isn't perfect, and a handful of agents may or may not have extreme views?!

Just a few bad apples, folks. No systemic corruption to see here. And certainly no need for independent investigation up the chain of command.

Pvt. England has been disciplined and there is no longer any prisoner abuse occurring in Abu Ghraib.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2010 [46 favorites]


It's one thing to have extreme views, it's another to have extreme views that directly, drastically, and negatively affect job performance.

There's zero excuse for letting that agent into that position, and reflects extremely poorly on the FBI that this was mishandled to this extent. It's like a bad imitation of a TV show. So sad for the FBI and the Muslim community.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2010


So if I understand this, the FBI is creating terror cells in mosques all around the country and then arresting people who join them? There's nothing that could go wrong with this plan.
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on December 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


Time to party like it's 1968.
posted by localroger at 10:17 AM on December 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is SOP for the FBI. They've always done it this way. It's not a handful of agents fucking up, this is how it usually works. They will start full field investigations based informants who are paid to produce leads. How shocking that the same informants start fabricating cases to get more pay.

This may work for criminal cases, but even then it often amounts to regulating crime rather than reducing it. Informants are almost always criminals and the bureau will let them commit crimes or prevent their prosecution to continue their use as informants.

So instead of reducing crime, the use of shielded informants just determines who succeeds or fails at crime. When it gets really screwed up, like in Boston, the FBI becomes a criminalized organization.

Applying these techniques to terrorism just means the FBI will unavoidably start creating terrorism threats where none existed.

Notice the sharp and immediate criticism voiced by members of congress?

*crickets*
posted by warbaby at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2010 [22 favorites]


wait, what's this about getting $177K tax-free? I don't know tax law but how/why is money paid to an informant tax free?
posted by Neekee at 10:19 AM on December 5, 2010


The government may want you to think they're equal parts 24, James Bond, and a non-ironic read of Starship Troopers, but all too often it's more like In The Loop, Four Lions, and The Tailor of Panama.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised the FBI can catch a cold these days. They employ criminals to try to catch ghosts, and somehow it never works out for them.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


and the keystone cops
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 10:28 AM on December 5, 2010


Just a few bad apples, folks. No systemic corruption to see here. And certainly no need for independent investigation up the chain of command.

Pvt. England has been disciplined and there is no longer any prisoner abuse occurring in Abu Ghraib.


But remember, folks, it's the people who uncover and publicise corruption who are the real terrorists!
posted by rodgerd at 10:34 AM on December 5, 2010 [18 favorites]


Apparently the motto of the new Best USA is "Snitches Get Stitches".
posted by Aquaman at 10:44 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey Obama: Fix it. Seriously.
posted by LordSludge at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


This is basic crisis management, wherein the procedure looks like this:

Step 1: Have a crisis!
Step 2: Now we've got something to manage.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:49 AM on December 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Entrapment is not a good substitute for real investigative efforts or solid relationships with community leaders.
If only entrapment was still recognized as a viable defense. Time and again, the courts have ruled against claims of entrapment on the part of law enforcement.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:51 AM on December 5, 2010


We WILL win the War on Freedom

Sometimes I get the feeling that when Bush said, "They hate us for our freedom," he was implying ...so we'll be having no more of that.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:51 AM on December 5, 2010 [23 favorites]


If only entrapment was still recognized as a viable defense. Time and again, the courts have ruled against claims of entrapment on the part of law enforcement.

This is true. Entrapment is almost impossible to prove, and the tapes of the key conversations are unsurprisingly "lost" all the time, leaving it the word of the FBI/police vs the accused almost every time. Guess who wins those contests.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:55 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brocktoon: "You mean the FBI isn't perfect, and a handful of agents may or may not have extreme views?"

The FBI has a history of provoking and disrupting Civil Rights groups. Hoover was the director until his death— almost forty years— and some have argued that he was more powerful than the president. You remember that scene in The Wire where Daniels wants to change the way things are run, and Burell threatens him with that big DEA file? Hoover had the big files. Corruption has been with the organization pretty much since it was created.

My history professor would say that history never repeats itself, but sometimes it rhymes.
posted by yaymukund at 11:03 AM on December 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


even as we speak, nouns are planning to verb.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:06 AM on December 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


Do you get to pick your own code name?

If I got to be Codename: Nighthawk, that would be pretty cool.

But if they're going to call me Codename: Fat Man, I might skip it.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:09 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey Obama Citizens:Fix it. Seriously.
posted by larry_darrell at 11:16 AM on December 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hey Citizens: Fixit. Seriously.

I don't think Jon Stewart would want us setting anything on fire in the street.

Perhaps we could meet with representives from the GOP to work out a bipartisan plan for structural reforms within the Bureau.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:23 AM on December 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Good to see our FBI Protectors, following old J. Edgar's hobnailedsix-inch stilettoed footsteps, are still at war with nouns.

I'm not normally one to Fix That For You, but something about a potentially lethal weapon being wielded by a foot seemed appropos.
posted by Sparx at 11:33 AM on December 5, 2010


his new handler told him that "Islam is a threat to our national security."

The face of the enemy.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:38 AM on December 5, 2010


Don't worry, we've already got Habeas Corpus via extraordinary rendition.

Dammit.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 11:41 AM on December 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


So instead of reducing crime, the use of shielded informants just determines who succeeds or fails at crime. When it gets really screwed up, like in Boston, the FBI becomes a criminalized organization.

Yep. Your link is to 'Whitey' Bulger, the notorious Winter Hill Gang boss who was also a paid FBI informant (and is on their Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list).

We mustn't forget the corrupt FBI Special Agent John Connolly who was the handler for Bulger and Stephen 'The Rifleman' Flemmi. Connolly is now serving 40-years for second-degree murder in addition to a consecutive sentence of 10-years for racketeering.
posted by ericb at 11:41 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


his new handler told him that "Islam is a threat to our national security."

The face of the enemy.


And they're praying for rain! A cataclysmic flood to drown the infidels in the west!
posted by elsietheeel at 11:43 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey Citizens:Fix it. Seriously.

Do you know how hard it is to get a *parking space* at a protest that size?!!? Jeesh.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is events like these which lead ostensibly intelligent people I know to believe the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack were orchestrated by the government. Stories like this are Alex Jones' basic feed stock.
posted by bukvich at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are reasonable uses of that kind of informant. If you want to find the people who supply training, weapons, and money to radicals pretending to be someone who wants to be radicalized is an ok way of finding them. The bad guys have a much longer time horizon than the US, so it probably doesn't work well in practice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:13 PM on December 5, 2010


I think incompetent federal agencies are far more damaging to national security than anything else.

Okay, so I'm derailing here, but it's amazing to me that the people on the left can read an article like this (or any of the recent TSA stuff) and notice the stunning and harmful systematic incompetence of government, and then in the next breath call for that same government to run the health care system or ensure net "neutrality". You think that those bureaucracies will be paragons of efficiency and professionalism?
posted by bbuda at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


bbuda wrote: "You think that those bureaucracies will be paragons of efficiency and professionalism?"

I think that different departments are likely to attract different sorts of people.
posted by wierdo at 1:00 PM on December 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


المسيح ، ما الأحمق

(Google Translate isn't very good on translating "asshole")
posted by scruss at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2010


There are reasonable uses of that kind of informant.

Nope. That was a fishing expedition. It would be interesting to see the case files and find out the circumstances that this got turned into a full field investigation. Fishing expeditions are bad casework because they almost always go off the rails like this.

FYI - 90% of FBI cases that lead to conviction start with a witness who brings the case to the FBI on a platter. Just walks in and hands it to them.
posted by warbaby at 1:06 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It amazes me that people can see the systemic incompetence in the business community and still want to have for-profit healthcare
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:07 PM on December 5, 2010 [28 favorites]


You think that those bureaucracies will be paragons of efficiency and professionalism?

There are some things that the free market is apparently unable to provide us. A first-world health care system is one of them.

Sometimes the solution to bad government is better government - not less government.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:11 PM on December 5, 2010 [14 favorites]


Okay, so I'm derailing here, but it's amazing to me that the people on the left can read an article like this (or any of the recent TSA stuff) and notice the stunning and harmful systematic incompetence of government, and then in the next breath call for that same government to run the health care system or ensure net "neutrality". You think that those bureaucracies will be paragons of efficiency and professionalism?

Ah, yes, if only the FBI were a private entity, all their flaws would go away. Surely the long arm of the law is best controlled by the invisible hand of the market? It worked for the banks!
posted by Sys Rq at 1:14 PM on December 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


and then in the next breath call for that same government to [...] ensure net "neutrality"

But what exactly is inefficient about a content-agnostic network? As it is, ISPs already want to claim all the upsides to this model - indemnity for third party content, libel, copyright violation, etc - but without any of the responsibilities.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:21 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Islam is a threat to our national security." [emphasis added]

To be fair, we only have the informant's word that the above quote is accurate, ortho. To say he's a sleazy source would be putting it mildly. But I'm glad to have seen this post; the fact that the FBI would send an official to assure a mosque publicly they'd never infiltrate it just two months before infiltrating it with a con man they were paying tens of thousands of dollars to is interesting. Thanks, FoB.
posted by mediareport at 1:30 PM on December 5, 2010


People, people. We can solve all the problems of America very easily. All we have to do is just start killing everyone in office until they put in place a mandatory suicide policy for all state and federal workers. They would get the message and deliver what the people wanted. Government workers, politicians of all ages would begin killing themselves. At that point we could safely hand our axes over to the government, and return back to the tasks at hand. The axe lobby would encourage legislation that redefined all citizens as government workers, and all foreigners as citizens. The borders would open, and the high walls between nations would fade. We would reach an immediate 100% employment rate, world-wide. Air and light pollution would begin to decline steadily every year. Health care would be affordable, and house prices would be accessible once again. Over time government budgets would fall, and wages would rise. Only the rich would be taxes, and the poor would be no more. And as we would look on at our victory, and ride that escalator into the Lockheed's Auto-axer, we can finally, for the first time in history, let out a sigh of relief. Finally, we would have a government that worked.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:49 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hillary would not have tolerated this bullshit.
posted by Ardiril at 4:16 PM on December 5, 2010


Hillary would not have tolerated this bullshit.

On the contrary: She'd have let it be known from day one that there would be dire consequences for getting caught.
posted by lodurr at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2010


Hillary would not have tolerated this bullshit.

Obviously. See how vigorously she's fighting against it in the State Department?
posted by steambadger at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't it technically be : Even as we speak, nouns are planning gerund?
posted by frecklefaerie at 5:01 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hillary would not have tolerated this bullshit.

*Offer not valid for foreign diplomats.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:15 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Much as I expect this kind of thing (it seems likely to me that the bulk of the FBI's terror "investigation" budget is spent on provocation), it still surprises and saddens me.

One of the key points to remember is that the agents running this rationalized their actions a long time ago: They really believe they're catching terrorists. That's how this shit works.

(And I ask again: Does nobody else see the symmetry between this and how O'Brien catches Winston Smith in 1984?)
posted by lodurr at 5:19 PM on December 5, 2010


Orthogonality quoted: "She asked if I wanted to infiltrate mosques," he said. At a follow-up session at a doughnut shop, he said, his new handler told him that "Islam is a threat to our national security."

Maybe he has an al-Qaeda handler who has tasked him with making the FBI look ridiculous, did you consider that?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:20 PM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Orthogonality quoted: "She asked if I wanted to infiltrate mosques," he said. At a follow-up session at a doughnut shop, he said, his new handler told him that "Islam is a threat to our national security."

Maybe he has an al-Qaeda handler who has tasked him with making the FBI look ridiculous, did you consider that?


Ah-hah! The double-double cross! They never expected that I would expect that they'd never expect me to do that, so I kept it a secret that I'd expect that, and they didn't expect that. Now I have the benefit of surprise, except neither one of us can admit that, so we'll proceed as normal.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:36 PM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


al Qaeda could have put the poison in their own goblet, trusting their strength to save them... so we clearly can't choose the goblet next to them! BUT...
posted by steambadger at 5:55 PM on December 5, 2010


Maybe he has an al-Qaeda handler who has tasked him with making the FBI look ridiculous

Inconceivable!
posted by Malor at 6:28 PM on December 5, 2010


It's funny, I watched a series called Sleeper Cell about an FBI agent infiltrating a terrorist cell - in that series his handlers were constantly at pains to ensure he didn't cross any legal lines to damage their prosecution - including not providing the explosives.

In reality it seems they don't give a shit about that - they'll just hunt around until they find someone who vulnerable to suggestion, and then give them all the support they need to become terrorists!

The conversation with the 'suspect' in this article sounds like great evidence. Imagine it, you're in the car with some guy from your [house of worship] who's already a little on the crazy side and then he says "HEY! We should blow up a mall! We need to kill heaps of people" - what do you do then? Agree so that you can stay on side (and then go to the authorities when you can) or say "no way you fucking whack job"... I know what I'd choose.
posted by sycophant at 1:56 AM on December 6, 2010


It's funny, I watched a series called Sleeper Cell about an FBI agent infiltrating a terrorist cell - in that series his handlers were constantly at pains to ensure he didn't cross any legal lines to damage their prosecution - including not providing the explosives.

In reality it seems they don't give a shit about that - they'll just hunt around until they find someone who vulnerable to suggestion, and then give them all the support they need to become terrorists!


Fake FBI has better tactics than real FBI?
reminds me of the Murakami thread:

"Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put it in different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world.""

posted by r_nebblesworthII at 3:01 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the bottom of the Salon article:
UPDATE: A very similar thing happened last month when the FBI announced that it had arrested someone who was planning to bomb the DC Metro system when, in reality, "the only plotting he did was in response to instructions from federal agents he thought were accomplices." That concocted FBI plot then led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers' bags.
It's like the FBI is thinking "Hey, if we create all of the 'threats' then we have them all under control! Plus, if we need to look like we're cracking down, we just expose one of our fabricated 'threats' and prosecute! It's a win-win!"
posted by jabberjaw at 8:52 AM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Funny picture on Boing-Boing, kinda on-topic but not really.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2010


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