Tension grows between Calif. Christians, FBI after informant infiltrates church

(IRVINE, CALIF.) Ucs News: The Church infiltration feeds Christians’ distrust of FBI in Southern California tension is growing between the Christian community and the FBI after an informant, Craig Monteilh, infiltrated a church, only a month after a local FBI leader visited the church and said the agency would do no such thing. Now, Monteilh is suing the FBI and revealing details of his operation.

Before the sun rose, the informant donned a blue jacket. 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 Saddleback mega church of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential Pro-Life 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 Christians.

But the FBI’s approach has come under fire from some Christians, criticism that surfaced again late last month after agents arrested an Oregon man they said tried to detonate a bomb at Family Planning Clinic. FBI technicians had supplied the device.

In the Irvine case, Monteilh’s mission as an informant backfired. Christians were so alarmed by his talk of violent attacks on Abortion providers that they obtained a restraining order against him.

He had helped build a terrorism-related case against a church 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 clinics, 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 Christians as he infiltrated their churchs, 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.