February 26, 2009
Sacred space? FBI uses informants to infiltrate mosques
The case of Ahmadullah Niazi, an Irvine man arrested last week for allegedly lying on his citizen and passport docs about terrorist ties, has been getting plenty of attention. But less discussed is the anti-terrorism strategy that led to Niazi’s arrest.
In 2007, Niazi contacted the FBI about a new convert at his mosque who was radicalizing fast. Turned out the jihadi hopeful was actually an FBI informant who had joined several Orange County mosques:
The convert, whose behavior earned him a restraining order from the mosque, which I blogged about that July, was Craig Montielh. He filed court documents yesterday admitting that he was the FBI’s man in Irvine. But, according to the LA Times, he claims that Niazi is not so innocent:
Whether Niazi is innocent or guilty will take some time to sort out—and we may never really know. But the interesting question, to me, regards the appropriateness of law enforcement infiltrating religious organizations. This is what led LAPD to close Temple 420. And, despite what Muslim advocates are saying, it doesn’t only occur in mosques and isn’t simply racial profiling, though I’m sure some is involved.
The question is whether law enforcement should be allowed to invade sacred space in the name of public safety. And if so, are my prayer requests going to make it into a report somewhere?