Muslim-American group (CAIR) demanded an inquiry, the news has rattled their faith in American democracy. Former FBI agents and federal prosecutors say spying on mosques is still one of the government's best weapons to thwart terrorists and that the benefit to national security far outweighs any embarrassment to the agency.
"What matters to the FBI is preventing a massive attack that might be planned by some people ... using the mosque or church as a shield because they believe they're safe there," said Robert Blitzer, the FBI's former counterterrorism chief
One of the most-heralded U.S. terrorism convictions, for example, grew out of the work of an informant who spent months inside a New Jersey mosque and derailed a plan to blow up New York City landmarks. Radical Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman was sentenced to life in prison in 1995. He was also the spiritual leader for the men convicted in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.
"A lot of what happened was planned in the mosque," said Andy McCarthy, who was lead prosecutor on the case. "The recruiting went on in the mosque, a lot of the instruction went on in the mosque, we even had gun transactions in there."
In the California case, information about the informant who spied on the Islamic Center of Irvine came out last week at a detention hearing for a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden's bodyguard, an Afghan native and naturalized U.S. citizen named Ahmadullah Niazi.
FBI Special Agent Thomas J. Ropel III testified at the hearing that an FBI informant infiltrated Niazi's mosque and several others in Orange County and befriended Niazi. Ropel said the informant recorded Niazi on multiple occasions talking about blowing up buildings, acquiring weapons and sending money to the Afghan mujahadeen.
Ahmadullah Sais Niazi who was Arrested in Tustin CA ran a Hawala (money transfer) with Qader Qudus who was Convicted of Money Laundering Heroin Trafficking Profits From Pakistan.
The FBI in Santa Ana had a very good reason for going after Ahmadullah Sais Niazi by planting a spy in the Islamic Center of Irvine, California, Niazi had formed alliances with a man with known links to the Afghan heroin trade (Taliban) and ran a "Hawala" transferring money to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ahmadullah Sais Niazi in Tustin CA was working his Hawala with Qader Qudus and ZSQ Exchange in Freemont CA, Qader Qudus was convicted on money laundering charges linked to heroin trafficking in 2004.
A search warrant unsealed last week alleges that Niazi and his wife, according to documents seized, used a "hawala," an unlicensed money transfer system often used by people from Afghanistan and Pakistan to transfer money from one country to another. The FBI had actually raided Niazi's house twice, once previous in June of 2008.
See page 9 of the 53 page Search Warrant for Qader Qudus from June of 2008 and Feb. 2009 (two raids) Read: Ahmadullah Sais Niazi Search Warrant (PDF)
The majority of the Hawala Receipts from 1999 to 2004 by Ahmadullah Sais Niazi (approx. $16,000) were directed to H. Qadar Qudus aka Qader Qudas and ZSQ Exchange in Fremont CA. ZSQ had started as a small business, but had begun transferring more than $600,000 a month in the wake of the September 11 attacks and the resulting US military campaign in Afghanistan.
'Hawala' nets Fremont man 27 months Saturday, June 05, 2004 - OAKLAND . Although he went into court facing 46 to 57 months in federal prison, Qader Qudus, 45, ultimately was sentenced to 27 months for his conviction on two counts of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Qader Qudas pleaded guilty to a money-laundering count in a separate case in Maryland, a crime punishable by 30 to 37 months in prison, for which he was sentenced in December. But federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend that sentence run concurrently with the one handed down Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of Oakland.
US FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS.
Name....................Age.....Race.... Sex......Release Date........Location
QADER QUDUS .....51.....White.....M.........11-22-2005 ........RELEASED
Qader Qudus was indicted in September 2003 in Maryland along with 11 other men in connection with what prosecutors say was an international heroin trafficking conspiracy. He pleaded guilty in January to a single count of money laundering, admitting his money exchange business, or "hawala," moved $30,000 the government says was linked to drug sales.