Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges Attended Mosque Where FBI Informant was Embedded

A man charged with attempting to aid al-Qaeda attended the Orange County Mosque where the FBI informant Craig Monteilh says he was tasked by the Bureau with uncovering militants and gathering information by means including seducing and having sex with women as part of his undercover operations. The Islamic Society of Orange County is one of the largest Muslim organizations in the United States, and has been a frequent target of FBI surveillance as a site of “radicalization” (notably, a former member is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list).

Islamic Society of Orange County, photo via ISOC facebook page
Islamic Society of Orange County, photo via ISOC facebook page

After the informant had a “change of heart” regarding his activities and made them public, the ACLU of Southern California sued in Fazaga v FBI

In June 2006, FBI agents sent an informant to one of the largest, most diverse mosques in Orange County, California, who posed as a convert to Islam.  After publicly converting before a crowd of hundreds, the informant spent the next fourteen months acting on the instructions of his FBI handlers — gathering names, telephone numbers, e-mails, backgrounds, political and religious views, travel plans, and other information on hundreds of individuals in the community.  The FBI directed the informant, Craig Monteilh, not to target any particular individuals they believed were involved in criminal activity, but to gather as much information as possible on members of the Muslim community, and to focus on people who were more devout in their religious practice. No terrorism charges were brought, and no criminal convictions obtained, as a result of the FBI’s operation.

As the filing notes, the investigation yielded no charges or convictions. However, other documents obtained regarding FBI spying on Muslims in California show that the Bureau classifies much observed 1st Amendment-protected activity as “positive intelligence,” meaning it is likely to be retained and/or disseminated.

Additionally, the FBI has an official presence on the campus of the California State University, Fullerton campus, where Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, the accused attempted terrorist, was a member of the university Muslim Student Association, as I noted earlier today.

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