While the FBI insists they are acting to defend the US from potential terrorist attacks, a former informant says it treats an entire religious group as suspicious. He told RT about some of the bureau’s ethically murky practices.
RT:Back in 2006 you became Farouk al-Aziz, a French-Syrian in search of his Islamic roots. Tell us how did that happen?
CM: I was successful as an informant from 2003 to early 2006 working on money-for-hire operations, bank robberies, infiltrating white supremacist groups. And one day as I was speaking to my handler, her name was Tracy Hanlon. I said I am interested in infiltrating mosques. And she said “Oh my Gosh! That would be amazing. You would be gold!” They needed a specific kind of man, who can adapt and blend into the Muslim community to learn the language, learn the religion and use the religion and the culture against the Muslim community.
The FBI supplied me with sophisticated surveillance devices. They were called key fobs. It is like a car remote control. I had maybe five or six of them. They are always charged and I left them around the mosques where I would frequently pray. I had one in my pocket the entire time, always on and I had other key fobs just laying around in certain places where the they wanted me to target – the Imams’ offices, certain board members’ offices, certain worshippers’ cars, in their homes. So those devices were pretty much used on daily basis.
RT:Did you use any information that you acquired to create other informants?
CM: Yes. That was part of my role on Operation Flex. For example, in my conversations, or in their private conversations, certain things would come up. Like if a Muslim man was married and he had a girlfriend, a mistress, the FBI would use that information to blackmail that individual to become an informant. Or someone, perhaps, had a different sexual orientation. Or a certain youth had recreational drug use or desire to use certain narcotics. The FBI would use this information to blackmail them to become an informant.
RT: At that time did you think that what you were doing was wrong?
CM: Yes, I did. But I had been paid a lot of money at that time and I was assured by my handlers that the information that I was gathering and the method that I was using to gather it was far more important than the violation of anyone’s rights. So I continued. My handler Kevin Armstrong had serious concerns about the method which I was tasked to use to gather information, but he was overruled by the operational leader Paul Allen to keep me using entrapment types of methods to gather information.
RT: Some believe that entrapment is a necessary evil and it is a part of a price to be paid for national security. Do you agree with that?
CM: No, I don’t agree. In retrospect, especially, because again I used those tactics on a daily basis for over a year. And the reason why I disagree is because entrapment methods never stop. It always grows. There are no boundaries for it. If I can seek out an individual and get them coerced in some way to do something they normally would not do, that behavior from the informant only grows into more violation, more severe violations of the civil rights of Americans. So I think entrapment alone must be stopped.
RT: How widespread was entrapment among law enforcement agencies in the US?
CM: I worked with several federal agencies and several local police departments as an informant. And on each and every operation and case I worked on, a large degree of entrapment is the principal method. That is not justice. And I believe the FBI must rethink their policies and procedures. I believe that entrapment creates enemies.
RT: Does the US entrap people abroad too?
CM: Abroad? Yes. Operation Flex began in the United States, but it expanded beyond the borders of America. There were people in Afghanistan and a certain few in Iraq, a few in Yemen, who were entrapped. But that entrapment method was used to blackmail them to become informants not lead to arrests. It was to blackmail them. Usually when federal authorities, the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives], FBI want you, they would arrange some type of operation where they lure you in an entrapment manner where you may be innocent of this particular crime but they will use that arrest to pressure you to plead guilty on other arrests.
RT: Are other minority communities in America targeted as intensively as Muslims?
CM: No, I think the Muslims today are what the African-Americans were in 1950s, 60s and 70s. The order of today where the FBI needs an enemy, they found it in Islam. And I think unfortunately, a religious war, yes, but they would never say that because they can’t. It’s a violation of one’s constitutional rights, but that’s exactly what it is, the war on terror is a war on Islam.