Since he was a teen, Craig Monteilh has pretended to be someone he wasn't – Russian, Muslim, a white supremacist…
His role as an informant in state prison provided early training, says Monteilh, who is African-American, but light skinned. After being arrested for grand theft in 2002, he was sentenced to state prisons in Tehachapi and Chino. There, he pretended to be Caucasian to blend in with white supremacists.
Six years later, he would be involved in the case of Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, a Tustin man arrested on suspicion of lying on immigration forms about ties to terrorist organizations. Monteilh's name and picture would appear in several news reports. In a court hearing, an FBI agent says that Niazi was recorded in a conversation calling Osama bin Laden "an angel" and that an informant had been behind the recording.
Days later, Monteilh emerged as that informant.
The revelation raised questions about the FBI's tactics. Muslim leaders said the bureau was planting informants who were inciting violent and jihadist conversations. Since then, relations between Muslim organizations and the FBI have soured, leaders say.
Meanwhile, the FBI has repeated that it does not profile suspects, and while it has refused to comment on specific allegations, Monteilh's role or investigative techniques, a spokeswoman has said the FBI has followed criminal leads when investigations lead them there.
In multiple interviews with The Orange County Register, Monteilh detailed cases he worked with federal investigators and how he went from informing on inmates he befriended in prison to being involved with counter-terrorism…
By July 2006, Monteilh alleges he was working as an informant for the Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force, pretending to be a man named Farouk al-Aziz. In that role, Monteilh says he was instructed to infiltrate local mosques and gain the trust of local religious leaders. (More)