OTTAWA — A Muslim FBI agent who helped Canadian authorities foil a terrorist plot says his religion is being desecrated by violent jihadis — and he wants the public to hear a different story.
The keys are educating people about the true tenets of Islam and including Muslims in the fight against those who warp the faith for their own ends, said the undercover agent, who has written a candid book as Tamer Elnoury, his cover name during the Canada-U.S. operation.
“Al-Qaida and ISIS are the only ones with a voice,” Elnoury said in an interview. “I wanted to start the conversation. Because at the end of the day, the only way we’re ever going to win this global war on terror is if we stand united against it, and we understand it, and we don’t just use the jihadi brush to paint every Muslim.”
An Arabic speaker, Elnoury has been doing undercover counter-terrorism work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2008, a calling that has taken him around the world.
“American Radical” is his story of the investigation that led to terrorism convictions and life sentences in 2015 for Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian citizen doing advanced research in nanotechnology in Montreal, and Raed Jaser, a stateless Palestinian who settled in Toronto with his family.
The look in Esseghaier’s eyes when he talked about killing infidels was something Elnoury had never seen before, he writes. “It was a look of hatred and death. It made me physically sick.”
Elnoury testified, using his pseudonym, during the rail-plot trial in Toronto, and was dismayed by the media focus on Islamic extremism.
“Nothing true about Islam,” he writes. In the media’s defence, he adds, all they heard were Esseghaier and Jaser’s interpretations.
Elnoury recounts how, despite the concerns of the Crown prosecutor, he wanted to squarely address the question in the witness box.
“These religious views that are presented are a complete desecration of my religion,” he told the court. “So it stands out to me when I am having a discussion about rationalizing killing innocent women and children.”