Xinhua : Report: Popular gyms monitored by FBI

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Report: Popular gyms monitored by FBI

April 29, 2009

LOS ANGELES, April 28 (Xinhua) -- As part of their anti-terrorism efforts, FBI agents monitored popular gyms throughout Orange County near Los Angeles to gather intelligence on members of several local mosques, it was reported on Tuesday.

The FBI used informants to gather intelligence that might aid anti-terrorism investigators, the Los Angeles Times said, quoting a man who claims to have been a key informant in the operation.

The informant, Craig Monteilh, who said he posed as a Moslem convert at the request of the FBI to gather intelligence that might aid anti-terrorism investigators.

Monteilh said he was instructed to lure mosque members to work out with him at local gyms. FBI agents, he said, later would obtain security camera footage from the gyms and ask him to identify the people on the tapes and to provide additional information about them.

The agents then conducted background checks on those people, looking for anything that could be used to pressure them to become informants, according to Monteilh.

Disclosures of the FBI's tactics have angered some leaders in the Moslem community in Orange County, who saw it as a betrayal of their efforts to assist law enforcement after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to the paper.

Last week, a coalition of the nation's largest Moslem organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Moslem Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America, issued a statement demanding that the Obama administration address FBI actions, the paper said.

Such actions included what they described as the "infiltration of mosques," the use of "agent provocateurs to trap unsuspecting Moslem youth" and the "deliberate vilification" of the council, said the paper.

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Anaheim, Los Angeles, said he viewed the most recent disclosure as a form of religious profiling that "reflects a deeply rooted mindset that was promoted by the Bush Administration."

"I'm not surprised," he said. "It confirms our worst fears."

Sal Hernandez, director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, declined to comment on the matter. Another law enforcement source, however, confirmed that the surveillance occurred, but emphasized that it was a narrowly focused operation targeting people whom the informant had already implicated in alleged crimes, according to the paper.

Editor: Mu Xuequan