Monthly Archives: December 2010

Immam Kasozi Talks about his Achievements and Challenges in the Year 2010


Assalaam alaikum, brothers and sisters and dear members of this forum,

Praise be to Allah that has enabled us to go thus far as we reach the end of the year.  It has been a great year in that we have exchanged great ideals which need to be looked into critically despite the hiccups and some of the strong exchanges that we have had.

What is important is to know that there is a problem which calls for a collective responsibility on our part as not only educated but somehow enlightened Muslims.  We are scattered all over the globe and we have met and discussed with some of the best brains.  The question is what lessons have we learnt from these shared experiences.  It is the lessons that you learn that will help you make a positive contribution by thinking outside the box.

My greatest moments of 2010 are really many but I will share with you a few and then indicate some challenges that we need to think about critically.

1. Taking my wife to India for treatment in July and spending there almost 2 months.
2. The attention given to me by the Ugandan students I found in Bangalore.
3. Their support to me more especially visiting me in the hospital everyday more than twice.
4. Organizing for me a forum to meet them with the Uganda high commission in India.
5. Our last meeting with the Muslim students in the hospital guest wing 2 days before I left India.
6. The Support, sympathy and encouragement I got from members of the Muslim community in Uganda including some members of this forum.
7. The response of the some Muslims members of staff who work with the ministry of Health, Including that special call by the Permanent Secretary.
8. The attention by my colleagues and friends more especially those I had not told that I was going or had Gone to India.
9. That Special Meeting that My greatest friend Hussein Kyanjo organized at my home after I had returned.  Attended by 6 people who decided to replace my car that I had sold as I was going to India and this time giving a big family car.
10. Provision of a special physical therapist to attend to my wife ever since we came back by my other special friend(Ahmad)
11. The commitment of this special nurse in the names of Jane that makes her come all the time including public holds and weekend despite her busy schedule at her work place.
12. The commitment by hajat Feza Buwembo, and Asiayah Mugenyi in preparing special meals for my Wife.
13. The Passion and love given by Hajat Sarah Muyigwa, Hajat Sarah Nakabuye, Hajat Zurfa Kapalaga to Aisha and our family generally.

All the above are more personal but speak volumes to my understanding of the Islamic spirit.

14. Having Iftar with Muslim female students about 250 at My home from higher institutions of learning on 5th September 2010.  This has been the case for the last 6 years but this becomes special to me and my family because it was barely two weeks after our return from India.
15. The launching of MIA MIA foundation and the attention it has attracted.

16. The special visits I have made to Bwera, Kasese, Masindi, Lugazi,Ruhimbo, Nakasongola, Kiryasaka, Oyam, Kiboga, and Saad Rwenzori islamic Institute.
17. Being appointed A climate Change “Icon” ie ambassodor by the British Council; something that has seen me provide and plant over 40,000 tree seedlings and trees for the Muslim community in Buyita seeta, Lugazi-Kawoolo, Saad Islamic, Aisha girls High school, Kibibi secondary school, Kiryasaka Muslim primary school, Ali bin Abu Twalib Islamic Centre and Uganda Muslim Welfare Assoc/ Lukman Primary school.
18. With the help of Abdallah Twaha Matovu we have given out more than 5000 Qurans throughout the country
19. Paying school fees and supporting of over 100 primary and secondary school pupils.
20. Support to over 20 University students;
21. Purchasing a Hostel/ Building for Kajara Quran School;
22. Celebrating 3 Years with 4 children out of the 5 that were produced by the same mother in jinja hospital. Thank you Kitimbo for enabling channel the support to that family in Busoga and thank for not betraying me.
23. Constructing a house in Kazo For the Widowed, elderly and BlindNakaiza(muslim) and ability to complete a house for one Mzee Kigozi  (non Muslim in In Singo Mityana District. Thanks to Hameed Muguluma for identifying this old man.
24. The progress of Mawanga Mosque whose completion date has been put to 30th June 2010.
25. The special meeting with the leaders of Nakasongola Muslim Community and MUMSA members over the Nakasongola Buliri MUMSA high school project.
26. Muhammad Bukulu an Orphan from Kanungu Joining University on government having struggled with him for 6 years. doing one of the prime Science courses at makerere University


1. Continued disunity of the Muslim leadership,
2. Failure to provide treatment for Fatuma Kayobyo a Muslim child who is over growing having started menstruation at 9 months.  Her needs are 368,000 every month for 7 years.  she is being treated at Kadic Hospital
3.Muslims failure to realize that we can construct Nakasero Mosque project without leasing this prime plot
4. Continued attack on the Islamic University by Muslims despite the progress it is making
5. Lack of a meeting place or a forum to discuss muslim issues in anorganised maner
6. Tolerance
7. Loss of all the properties that were placed under the Muslim Sunni association as trustees, spearheaded by a section of some muslims.
8. Stocking the UMYA Farm in Bukomero 200 acres of land with no serious activity.
9. Failure to put in place the greatest Idea of this forum; ie starting a Muslim TV station.


The greatest was the initiation of today for tomorrow project(T4T) launched in April 2010, you can be part of it. It is a savings initiative that will turn into a cooperative society that will help you run away from borrowing from RIBBA institutions

Read through these critically and please think about the future of this community.

Be part of MIA MIA, Uganda Muslim education fund, UMYA, Ammana Foundation, Hear Uganda, Green top or Immam Kaozi Climate change project


May Allah preserve all of us in the years to come and serve this community with a purpose.

Sorry for the mistakes in this piece it is because I have done at a very odd hour of the night or morning

Immam Iddi Kasozi ibbans



Advice to the bride


One of the most famous and most beautiful of these texts was recorded by `Abd al-Malik ibn `Umayr al-Qurashi, who was one of the outstanding scholars of the second century AH. He quotes the words of advice given by Umamah bint al-Harith, one of the most eloquent and learned women, who was possessed of wisdom and great maturity, to her daughter on the eve of her marriage. These beautiful words deserve to be inscribed in golden ink.

`Abd al-Malik said: “When `Awf ibn Muhallim al-Shaybani, one of the most highly respected leaders of the Arab nobility during the jahiliyyah, married his daughter Umm Iyas to al-Harith ibn `Amr al-Kindi, she was made ready to be taken to the groom, then her mother Umamah came in to her, to advise her, and said: …….

`O my daughter, if it were deemed unnecessary to give you this advice because of good manners and noble descent, then it would have been unnecessary for you, because you possess these qualities, but it will serve as a reminder to those who are forgetful, and will help those who are wise.

`O my daughter, if a woman were able to do without a husband by virtue of her father’s wealth and her need for her father, then you of all people would be most able to do without a husband, but women were created for men just as men were created for them.

`O my daughter, you are about to leave the home in which you grew up, where you first learned to walk, to go to a place you do not know, to a companion with whom you are unfamiliar. By marrying you he has become a master over you, so be like a servant to him, and he will become like a servant to you.

Take from me ten qualities, which will be a provision and a reminder for you.

`The first and second of them are: be content in his company, and listen to and obey him, for contentment brings peace of mind, and listening to and obeying one’s husband pleases Allah .

The third and fourth of them are: make sure that you smell good and look good; he should not see anything ugly in you, and he should not smell anything but a pleasant smell from you. Kohl is the best kind of beautification to be found, and water is better than the rarest perfume.

`The fifth and the sixth of them are: prepare his food on time, and keep quiet when he is asleep, for raging hunger is like a burning flame, and disturbing his sleep will make him angry.

`The seventh and eighth of them are: take care of his servants (or employees) and children, and take care of his wealth, for taking care of his wealth shows that you appreciate him, and taking care of his children and servants shows good management.

`The ninth and tenth of them are: never disclose any of his secrets, and never disobey any of his orders, for if you disclose any of his secrets you will never feel safe from his possible betrayal, and if you disobey him, his heart will be filled with hatred towards you.

`Be careful, O my daughter, of showing joy in front of him when he is upset, and do not show sorrow in front of him when he is happy, because the former shows a lack of judgement, whilst the latter will make him unhappy.

`Show him as much honour and respect as you can, and agree with him as much as you can, so that he will enjoy your companionship and conversation.

`Know, O my daughter, that you will not achieve what you would like to until you put his pleasure before your own, and his wishes before yours, in whatever you like and dislike. And may Allah (SWT) choose what is best for you and protect you.

She was taken to her husband, and the marriage was a great success; she gave birth to kings who ruled after him.

Mwanje Muhammad

Islam and Christmas Celebrations


Brothers and sisters,
Assalaam alaikum
I am glad to note that  this issue is generating a lively and healthy debate from which we’ll all learn Inshallah. As we await the findings of Imaam Kasozi on this, I would like to state that contemporary scholars are divided on this matter. Some of them think that congratulating christians on their festivals and extending any kind of gesture is forbidden. This group base their ruling on a number of  verses and traditions the majority of which have been kindly posted here by Bro. Abbey Semuwemba. They further argue the during his lifetime, the Prophet (PBUH) used to interact with christians and Jews and  he would visit the sick among them but that there is no report indicating that he congartuted them upon their festivals. They also base their views on those of great scholars such as Ibin Tayyimiyyah and Ibin Alqayyim.
On the other hand, a group of contemporary scholars see that congratulating the people of the book on such occassions is a form of dealing kindly “Birr” which the Almighty Allah says has no harm in 60:8 “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just”
This group argues that a mere expression of pleasantries to the christians  with whom we may have special relations such as collegemates, colleagues at work etc. is part of good manners that Muslims are encouraged to exhibit and does not necessary mean that one believes in what they believe in.
Furthermore, they say this is a form of Da’awah and a way of reconciling the hearts of non-believers “ta’aleef al-quluub’ which is required of Muslim for shunning them and their festivals repels them and keeps them away from trying to understand what is slam is all about.
One the whole the basic principal  that we should be aware of is that “Fatwa” or ruling on religious matters is conditioned to when and where that ruling is being made in other words time and place have considerable influence on how Ulama make their fatwa. While most of the scholars in the Arabian Gulf region may not find it necessary for Muslims to make any kind of interaction with non-muslims because of the negligable number of non-muslims in the region, other scholars who have been exposed to mixed societies value this interaction as long as it practiced within the limits of islamically accpted boundries.
Allah knows best.

Abdunur Sekindi
Further reading:



1) Itakeni Rizki kwa kutoa sadaka.

2) Kuamka asubuhi na ukisha usome Quran

3) Kuwa mcheshi na watu.

4) Uwe mwenye maneno mazuri usiwe mwenye bughdha wala matusi n.k.

5) Ujitahidi kuweka vyombe vyako viwe visafi (vya kulia kama sahani, sufuria, n.k).

6) Ujitahidi uwe na Adabu kwa wazee wako na waislam wenzako.

7) Uswali na unamnyeyekea mola wako.

8) Uwe unasali sala ya dhuha, ambayo muda wa sala hii huanza saa moja na robo mpaka saa tatu.

9) Uwe kila siku unasoma Idhawaqaatil waqia, Tabarka, Wallayli, Alamnashrah, Yaayyuhal-Muzamil.

10) Ujitahidi uwe msafi saa zako zote unazotembea uwe na Udhu.

11) Usali sala ya witri baada ya kusali sala ya Ishaa.

12) Usikae na watu wenye Tabia za kusema watu n.k.

13) Ukithirishe kusema : Astahafiruallah kila unapokuwa huna la kusema.

Wabilahi tawfiq inshaallah!



There goes the translation…


1. Struggle to ensure that your sustenance riziki  come from the charity you give out.(In other words give more charity, you will get more in return).
2.Wake up early morning for prayers( Subuhi ) and prayers read the Quran
3.Try to have a pleasant personality. ( Relate well with people)
4.Be modest in your speech, avoid being one of excessive temper, nor one who uses vulgar or obscene language,etc..
5.Endeavor to keep yourself plus your environment clean. Especially on utensils like plates, saucepans etc..
6.Be respectful to your parents ( Elders) and fellow Muslims
7. Establish and be humble in your prayers
8.Endeavor to perform salatul dhuhaa, which is normally perfomed between 7am- 9am
9.Always read the following surahs, Idhaawakaatil waqiah, Tabaaraka, Walayli,Washamsi,Alam nashirakh and Yaahayu hal muzzamil
10. Always keep your body clean and ensure that you have udhu at all times

11. Perform witri prayers after salatul Ishaa
12. Stay not in the company of peolple who talk about others
13. Develop a habit of saying ‘Astaghfirullah’ every time you have nothing to say.

Wabillahi taufik Inshallah.

Aisha dimples and Fatima Omar

The 7 habits of highly effective people-Stephen R Covey


This is a good book, i encourage you to read it.

Habit 1 : Be Proactive.
“Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you”.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
“If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster”.

Habit 3: Put First Things First
All it takes is realizing that it’s all right to say no when necessary and then focus on your highest priorities.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand.

Habit 6: Synergize
To put it simply, synergy means “two heads are better than one.”

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Mwanje Muhammad

Pepsi and Coca Cola Contains Pork (Pig) extracts


Dear All,

Pepsi and Coca Cola contains extract from Pork (Pig)

Most of the people avoid Pepsi and Coca-Cola for various reasons:-

because of harmful chemical contents such as excessive carbonates, etc.

Now there is yet another reason which is more dangerous. The scientific and medical research says that drinking Pepsi & Cola leads to cancer because the key element is taken from Pigs sausage.

The pig is the only animal that eats dirt, dung and urine, which makes lethal and deadly fabric polluted germs and microbes.

According to a report published in Jordanian magazine, the Head of Delhi University Science and Technology , Dr. Mangoshada scientifically proved that the key element in Pepsi and Cola contains extract from the intestines of Pig which causes cancer and other deadly diseases.

The Indian university conducted tests on the impact of drinking Pepsi and Coca Cola which proved that drinking them lead to more rapid heart rate and low pressure.

Also drinking 6 bottles of Pepsi or Cola at a time causes instant death. It also contains chemicals such as carbonic and phosphoric acids, citric acid which harms teeth and causes bone fragility. Bones kept in the Cup of Pepsi melts during the week knowing that the bones of the dead remain in the grave for thirty years.

Research itself confirmed that the calcium dissolved in Pepsi and it weakens the bladder, kidneys, kills the pancreatic, leads to diabetes and infectious diseases.

Pepsi or Coca-Cola lovers, you have nothing to worry as it is not the only drinks available on this earth, as we have other healthy alternatives such as natural fruit juices, canned coconut water, flavored milks, buttermilk etc., all of them are conveniently available even in the small stores.



The Islamic Orphanage in Kawempe


Asalam alaykum
please find time and go check out Midland orphanage & islamic primary school e Kawempe ku Tano (5). You branch off Benzina petrol station on yr right,When you get to a building branded with MTN, turn left til u reach the orphanage.
The Director of over 100 orphans at Midland is Shk Kikulukunyu Haruna on 0704289813.
Right now he has some orphans who passed well their PLE but lack the funds to join Secondary.Minimum annual tuition fee is 600,000 ugx ($ 260.00).
Till they are eligible to join the Online Islamic University which is free masha’Allah.
(U too can benefit from it.check it out on )
The orphanage structures will tell a story of their own. Please visit/ Call and see how u can help.

Prophet Muhammad [pbuh]said

”Of ORPHANS: I and the guardian of orphans (whether the orphan be of his near or distant relations, or of strangers) will be in one place in the next world; like my two fingers, nearly touching each other”.
kind regards
Zuhra Mulumba

Deaf man regained hearing during Pilgrimage


Somali could not hear or speak for 20 years after bomb explosion

Published Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A Somali man who had lost his ability to hear and speak after a bomb explosion in his conflict-battered African country regained his hearing sense while on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The man, identified only as Shareef, was hit by a bomb during internal clashes in Somalia nearly 20 years ago and decided later to immigrate to Britain after he could no longer hear or speak, Masdar online Arabic language daily said.

Doctors in Britain examined him but found that his condition is incurable, prompting authorities to let him stay as a “deaf-mute” refugee.

The paper said Shareef, in his 40s, has been living in Britain with his wife and four children ever since, adding that he came to Saudi Arabia along with other Somali-British Muslims to perform Haj (pilgrimage), which began on Monday.

“After going around the Grand Mosque in Makkah along with the other pilgrims, he drank Zamzam (sacred) water and went to the bathroom…when he got out of the bathroom, he heard the call for prayers,” the paper said.

“He could hardly believe what he heard…he rushed to his friends and told them what happened…they were shocked when they heard him talking.”

The paper quoted the head of the Somali-British  Haj (pilgrimage) mission, Abdul Samad Mohammed, as saying he was stunned when he heard him speak.

“Shareef had been deaf mute for a long time…during our flight to Saudi Arabia, he was writing what he wanted from the cabin crew,” Mohammed said.

“At first we could not believe it….so we asked him to speak again and he did…we took him to the hospital here for examination and doctors said there is nothing wrong with him.”


Tips on How to Increase Your Iman


Advice on How to be Good
Do not limit yourself to deep words and profound spiritual allusions but make provision for the afterlife before death comes, when fine words will be lost and the rak`as you prayed by night or day will remain..
Give voluntary charity as much as possible, for you owe more than merely the zakat obligatory. Make provision for the afterlife by giving while you have health and want to cling to your money out of fear of poverty, seeing life before you. Allah Most High says, “Whoever is watchful against the stinginess of his own soul, those shall be the successful” (Koran 59:9), meaning they shall be saved.
Never obey anyone of Allah’s servants (even father or mother) in an act of disobedience to Allah, for there is no obedience to a creature in disobedience to the Creator.
Do not wrong another person, for wrongs done to others are clouds of darkness on the Day of Judgement. Wronging others includes not doing what Allah has obliged you to do for them.
Beware of enmity against anyone who has said, “La ilaha ill Allah’ (There is no god but Allah), for Allah has honored them with faith, and particularly the righteous of them, for Allah Most High says in a rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith, “He who makes an enemy of a friend of Mine, I declare war against,”
Tell the truth when you speak. It is one of the worst betrayals to tell your brother something he thinks you are being honest about when the matter is otherwise.
Be honest in your clothes and dress. It is an outrage against Allah to appear to His servants in the guise of the righteous while secretly contradicting it with the works of the wicked.
Recite the Koran and contemplate its meanings. Reflect while reading it on the qualities Allah has praised, with which He describes the people He loves. Acquire these qualities yourself and shun those Allah has condemned. Do your utmost of memorize the Holy Koran by acts as you do by words.
Never explain a verse of Holy Koran by your own opinion, but check as to how it has been understood by the scholars of Sacred Law and men of wisdom who came before you. If you comprehend something else by it and what you have understood contradicts the Sacred Law, forsake your wretched opinion and fling it against the wall.
Beware lest you ever say anything that does not conform to the Sacred Law. Know that the highest stage of the perfected ones (rijal) is the Sacred Law of Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). And know that the exoteric that contravenes the exoteric is a fraud.
Take care to eat lawful food bought with a lawful income, for the entire body of someone who eats what is lawful, his hearing, eyesight, hands, and feet, are disposed to obey Allah whether he wishes to or not; while the whole body of someone who eats the unlawful is disposed to do wrong whether he wants to or not.
Keep the thought of Allah Mighty and Majestic ever before you with respect to what He takes from you and what He gives. He takes away nothing except that you may show patience and win His love, for He loves the patient, and when He loves you, He will treat you as a lover does his beloved. And so too, when He gives to you, He bestows blessings upon you that you may give thanks, for He loves the thankful.
Do not walk a step, take a bite, or make a move without intending thereby to draw nearer to Allah.
Perform the remembrance of Allah (dhikr) silently and aloud, in a group and when alone, for Allah Most High says, “Remember Me: I will remember you” (Koran 2:152).
It is sufficient as to its worth that Allah is remembering you as long as you are remembering Him.
Give frequent utterance to the axiom of Islam “La ilaha ill Allah” (There is no god but Allah), for it is the greatest invocation (dhikr), as is mentioned in the hadith, “The best thins I or any of the prophets before me have said is ‘La ilaha ill Allah.”’
And in a hadith qudsi, “Were the seven heavens and seven earths placed on one side of a balance scale and’`La ilaha ill Allah’ placed on the other, the latter would outweigh them all.”
Train you children in points of Islamic behavior so they grow up to be Muslims who love Islam and respect the religion of Islam.
Do not seek exaltation on earth, but have humility in whatever degree Allah has raised you to. For Allah has brought you forth from the earth, you mother, and it is unseemly to exalt yourself above her. As a hadith says, “Allah has charged Himself to raise nothing in this world, save that He will lower it again.”
So if you are such a thing, you may expect to be lowered by Allah.
Always visit those who are ill, as it helps one reflect and take admonition, for someone ill is close to Allah. One has only to consider that the sick person has no one to call upon but Allah, nothing to reflect on but Allah, and his condition reminds one of the blessing of health (al-Hall al-sadid li ma astashkalahu al-murid (y46), 29-32).

Immama Kasozi should be given benefit of doubt


Aaww Wajama,
Apart from Imaama Kazozis uncompromising reactions at times,He is better than Sherkh Kaketo and others 99.1% when it comes to the development of Muslim projects.Even if I have no money and Imaam Kasozi asks me money, I can’t question him where he is taking  it. Even if I don’t have and have a way of getting a loan, I will .Am saying this because he has something to show off in terms of putting up professional Muslim projects.Every person even a professor of professors every day that passes will appreciate any positive advice unless he has a disease of the mind.

 I know many on this forum are infuriated by Kasozi including me because of his lack of respect for HE the Mufti of Uganda Sherkh  Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje.But to people in their positive state of mind and who have been around for years and have total affection for Islam, should celebrate if Imam accepted to spearhead the construction of Nakasero mosque.
Having said the above let me tell you the plain truth about who owns Nakasero mosque.Nakasero mosque is owned by Muslim Sunni association of Uganda and Kaketo is the trustee of Muslim Sunni association of Uganda with several prime properties in town .According to the constitution of Muslim suni association, no one should own any property for Muslim suni or sell it.If Muslim sunni association cease to exist, the property should go to any ngo with alike objectives .If Muslims sunni association still exists, it belongs to it .If it did wide up, it could have given it to tablig  community or any other muslim ngo.
Legally, whoever wants to develop Nakasero mosque should approach Sheikh Kaketo and his term at the offices of Muslim Sunni association below Aldin mosque –old Kampala  and  starts from there. I have ever tried to fight for the property of Muslim sunning association and if it was not for the course of Islam, it was a battle I hate to get involved in now. It is that battle that I started showing what once was hidden aging signs of my life that they had to come out.
I want to challenge Amir Kakato and the group plus Hajj Mutasa ,that if theirs was to develop nakaseo for the sake of Islam, let them come out and give Imama kasozi benefit of doubt since he has shown interest  and mobilize for him support both monetary and legally and He develops it for the sake of Allah-he can even include them on the committee .
I always tell my Muslim friends that every property for a Muslim belongs to Muslims.Brothers and sister, let us come together and support this project under Immam Kasozi and solicit all the support that we can come across for its successes.
Issa Kirarira

California Muslims and the FBI


Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 12:47 AM

IRVINE, CALIF. – Before the sun rose, the informant donned a white Islamic robe. A tiny camera was sewn into a button, and a microphone was buried in a device attached to his keys.
“This is Farouk al-Aziz, code name Oracle,” he said into the keys as he sat in his parked car in this quiet community south of Los Angeles. “It’s November 13th, 4:30 a.m. And we’re hot.”
The undercover FBI informant – a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh – then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has used informants successfully as one of many tactics to prevent another strike in the United States. Agency officials say they are careful not to violate civil liberties and do not target Muslims.
But the FBI’s approach has come under fire from some Muslims, criticism that surfaced again late last month after agents arrested an Oregon man they said tried to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. FBI technicians had supplied the device.
In the Irvine case, Monteilh’s mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him.
He had helped build a terrorism-related case against a mosque member, but that also collapsed. The Justice Department recently took the extraordinary step of dropping charges against the worshiper, who Monteilh had caught on tape agreeing to blow up buildings, law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors had portrayed the man as a dire threat.
Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his “handlers” trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI.
Officials declined to comment on specific details of Monteilh’s tale but confirm that he was a paid FBI informant. Court records and interviews corroborate not only that Monteilh worked for the FBI – he says he made $177,000, tax-free, in 15 months – but that he provided vital information on a number of cases.
Some Muslims in Southern California and nationally say the cascading revelations have seriously damaged their relationship with the FBI, a partnership that both sides agree is critical to preventing attacks and homegrown terrorism.
Citing Monteilh’s actions and what they call a pattern of FBI surveillance, many leading national Muslim organizations have virtually suspended contact with the bureau.
“The community feels betrayed,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, an umbrella group of more than 75 mosques.
“They got a guy, a bona fide criminal, and obviously trained him and sent him to infiltrate mosques,” Syed said. “And when things went sour, they ditched him and he got mad. It’s like a soap opera, for God’s sake.”
FBI and Justice Department officials say that the Monteilh case is not representative of their relations with the Muslim community and that they continue to work closely with Muslims in investigating violence and other hate crimes against them. Officials also credit U.S. Muslims with reporting critical information in a variety of counterterrorism cases.
The bureau “relies on the support, cooperation and trust of the communities it serves and protects,” FBI spokesman Michael Kortan said, adding that agents conduct investigations “under well-defined investigative guidelines and the law, and in close coordination with the Department of Justice.”
Officials said they have gone to great lengths to maintain good relationships with Muslims, including meetings hosted by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Last week, FBI officials met to discuss law enforcement and other issues with predominantly Muslim Somali community members in San Diego and Minneapolis.
Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, declined to comment on Monteilh, citing Monteilh’s lawsuit. He said that in certain circumstances, if there is evidence of a crime, FBI agents may “conduct an activity that might somehow involve surveillance in and about a mosque.”
But he said the agency does not target people based on religion or ethnicity.
“I know there’s a lot of suspicion that that’s the focus, that we’re looking at the mosques, monitoring who is coming and going. That’s just not the case,” he said.
The ‘chameleon’
Monteilh’s career as an informant began in 2003. Like many other informants, he was familiar with the inside of a prison cell. He had just finished a sentence for forging bank notes when local police officers he met at a gym asked him to infiltrate drug gangs and white supremacist groups for a federal-state task force.
“It was very exciting,” Monteilh said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I had the ability to be a chameleon.”
Monteilh, who stands over 6 feet tall and weighs 260 pounds, had worked as a prison chaplain before he was incarcerated. Married with three children, the Los Angeles native said that after he became an informant, an FBI agent on the task force sought him out. Law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about informants, said Monteilh was promoted from drug and bank robbery cases because his information was reliable and had led to convictions.
In early 2006, Monteilh said, he met with his FBI handler at a Starbucks.
“She asked if I wanted to infiltrate mosques,” he said. At a follow-up session at a doughnut shop, he said, his new handler told him that “Islam is a threat to our national security.”
Law enforcement sources said that the FBI trained Monteilh and that he aided an existing investigation. Monteilh, however, said he was ordered to randomly surveil and spy on Muslims to ferret out potential terrorists. Agents, he said, provided his cover: Farouk al-Aziz, a French Syrian in search of his Islamic roots. His code name was “Oracle.”
Monteilh said he was instructed to infiltrate mosques throughout Orange and two neighboring counties in Southern California, where the Muslim population of nearly 500,000 is the nation’s largest. He was told to target the Islamic Center of Irvine, he said, because it was near his home.
FBI tactics were already a sensitive issue at the Irvine mosque, a stucco, two-story building that draws as many as 2,000 people for Friday prayers. With tensions rising between law enforcement and Muslims over allegations of FBI surveillance, J. Stephen Tidwell, then head of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, spoke at the mosque in June 2006.
“If we’re going to mosques to come to services, we will tell you,” he said, according to a video of his speech. “. . . The FBI will tell you we’re coming for the very reason that we don’t want you to think you’re being monitored. We would come only to learn.”
Two months later, in August 2006, Monteilh arrived at the same mosque. He had called earlier and met with the imam. That Friday, he took shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith, before hundreds of worshipers.
Worshipers said that in Monteilh’s 10 months at the mosque, he became almost manic in his devotion, attending prayers five times a day and waiting in the parking lot before the 5 a.m. prayer. Monteilh said he was told by the FBI to take notes on who opened the mosque each day.
Worshipers said his Western clothes gave way to an Islamic robe, a white skullcap and sandals, an outfit Monteilh said was chosen by his handlers. As he grew closer to Muslims, he said, the FBI told him to date Muslim women if it gained him intelligence.
Worshipers noticed that Monteilh often left his keys around the mosque, said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who speaks often at the mosque.
“It seemed strange to people,” Ayloush said.
Inside the car remote on the bundle of keys was a microphone that recorded Muslims at the mosque, in their homes and at a local gym. Monteilh, who told people he was a fitness trainer, used the gym to seek out Muslim men.
“We started hearing that he was saying weird things,” said Omar Kurdi, a Loyola Law School student who knew Monteilh from the mosque and gym. “He would walk up to one of my friends and say, ‘It’s good that you guys are getting ready for the jihad.”
Worshipers said Monteilh gravitated to Ahmadullah Sais Niazi, an Afghan-born Arabic-language instructor who was a regular at Friday prayers.
In May 2007, Monteilh said he recorded a conversation about jihad during a car ride with Niazi and another man. Monteilh said he suggested an operation to blow up buildings and Niazi agreed. An FBI agent later cited that and other taped conversations between the two in court as evidence that Niazi was a threat.
A few days later, Ayloush got an anguished phone call from Niazi and the other man in the car.
“They said Farouk had told them he had access to weapons and that they should blow up a mall,” Ayloush recalled. “They were convinced this man was a terrorist.”
Ayloush reported the FBI’s own informant to the FBI. He said agents interviewed Niazi, who gave them the same account, but the agency took no action against Monteilh.
Still, Monteilh’s mission was collapsing. Members of the mosque told its leaders that they were afraid of Monteilh and that he was “trying to entrap them into a mission,” according to Asim Khan, the former mosque president. The mosque went to Orange County Superior Court in June 2007 and obtained a restraining order against Monteilh, court records show.
Soon afterward, Monteilh said FBI agents “told me they wanted to cut me loose.” After he vowed to go public, he said, he met with three agents at the Anaheim Hilton, where an FBI supervisor threatened him with arrest.
“She said, ‘If you reveal your informant status to the media, it will destroy the Muslim community’s relationship with the FBI forever.” Monteilh said.
The FBI declined to comment on Monteilh’s allegation.
At a subsequent meeting, Monteilh said, he signed a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for $25,000 in cash. An FBI letter to Monteilh’s attorney, on file in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, says Monteilh signed the non-disclosure agreement in October 2007.
But Monteilh was arrested in December 2007 on a grand-theft charge and ended up back in jail for 16 months. In January, he sued the FBI, alleging that the bureau and Irvine police conspired to have him arrested, then allowed his informant status to become known in prison, where he was stabbed.
The FBI and police have denied the allegations, and the lawsuit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. But the judge allowed Monteilh to file an amended complaint, with similar allegations, in September. The case is pending.
A case unravels
In the meantime, the case against Niazi unfolded. He was indicted in February 2009 by a federal grand jury on charges of lying about his ties to terrorists on immigration documents. In court, prosecutors said that jihadist materials were found on Niazi’s computer and that he had wired money to an alleged al-Qaeda financier. Prosecutors said he is the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s security coordinator. Much of the evidence was FBI testimony about Niazi’s recorded conversations with an FBI informant, who sources say was Monteilh.
“Frankly, there is no amount of bail or equity in a home that can protect the citizens of this community” from Niazi, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deirdre Eliot said in arguing for his detention.
Within days of Niazi’s indictment, Monteilh revealed his informant status in a series of interviews with Los Angeles area media.
“I think the FBI treated me with the utmost treachery,” he said in the interview with The Post.
In subsequent months, Monteilh sought out Niazi’s attorneys and told them he was ordered to entrap their client.
A year and a half later, on Sept. 30, prosecutors summarily moved to dismiss the case against Niazi, and a judge agreed. The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles cited the lack of an overseas witness and “evidentiary issues.” Sources familiar with the decision said Monteilh’s role – and his potential testimony for the defense – was also a factor.
Niazi declined to comment. His attorney Chase Scolnick said he is “very pleased with the outcome. It is a just result.”
In recent weeks, Monteilh said, he has been approaching Muslims at a local gym and apologizing for “disrespecting their community and religion.” Monteilh, who is now unemployed, says he regrets his role in the Niazi case and was glad when the charges were dropped.
On a recent Friday, more than 200 men sat on the carpet for prayers inside the Irvine mosque, most of them in khakis or jeans. During the sermon, the imam offered some advice.
“If an FBI agent comes in and says, ‘You’re under arrest,’â??” he told the crowd, they should pray to Allah – and then call a lawyer.
As worshipers milled around outside, they said they support the FBI’s role in fighting terrorism but feel betrayed by the infiltration of their sacred place.
“The FBI wants to treat the Muslim community as a partner while investigating us behind our backs,” said Kurdi, the Loyola student. “They can’t have it both ways.”
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.