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The story of an Egyptian-born Muslim FBI agent’s undercover pursuit of Islamist extremists.
A worthwhile, unique addition to the shelf of post–9/11 memoirs concerning the fight against terrorism.
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IC A N R A DIC A L
IC A N R A DIC A L I NSIDE T H E WOR L D OF A N U NDERCOV ER M USL I M FBI AGEN T T A M E R E L N O U R Y with Kevin Maurer
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 375 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 Copyright ? 2017 by Tamer Elnoury Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader. DUTTON is a registered trademark and the D colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC. library of congress cataloging'in'publication data Names: Elnoury, Tamer, author. | Maurer, Kevin, author. Title: American radical : inside the world of an undercover muslim FBI agent / Tamer Elnoury with Kevin Maurer. Description: New York, New York : Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2017. Identifiers: LCCN 2017029950| ISBN 9781101986158 (hardcover) | ISBN 9781101986165 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Elnoury, Tamer. | United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation'Officials and employees'Biography. | United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation. | Terrorism'United States. Classification: LCC HV7911.E42 A3 2017 | DDC 364.1/317092 [B] 'dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017029950 Printed in the United States of America 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Set in Adobe Garamond While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or 'third-''party websites or their content. Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author's alone.
of A r a bic Wor d s xi No t e t o t h e R e a de r xiii C h a p t e r 1. Super High 1 C h a p t e r 2. I Am a Muslim 11 C h a p t e r 3. No Fear 25 C h a p t e r 4. Dirty Arabs Group 37 C h a p t e r 5. Tamer Elnoury 47 C h a p t e r 6. 'Take His Temperature? 61 C h a p t e r 7. The Bump 71
vi C o n t e n t s C h a p t e r 8. Live Amongst Them to Defeat Them 81 C h a p t e r 9. Uncle Ibrahim 93 C h a p t e r 10. Gone Fishing 99 C h a p t e r 11. Apartment 23 113 C h a p t e r 1 2. The Road Trip 125 C h a p t e r 1 3. The Imam Complex 137 C h a p t e r 14. The Christian Burial Speech 153 C h a p t e r 15. Best of the Mujahideen 163 C h a p t e r 16. Pizza with Terrorists 171 C h a p t e r 17. The Bridge 183 C h a p t e r 18. Team Chiheb 199 C h a p t e r 19. The Responsible One 207 C h a p t e r 20. The Radicalizer 223 C h a p t e r 21. Spitting in the Eyes of God 239 C h a p t e r 2 2. Operation Happy New Year 253 C h a p t e r 23. High Five 269 C h a p t e r 24. The Sixth Pillar 279
vii C h a p t e r 25. Eyes of Allah 291 C h a p t e r 2 6. Stay True to Islam 301 C h a p t e r 27. The End 315 C h a p t e r 2 8. T'Bags 325 E pi l o gu e : We're Everyone 341 Ac k now l e d g m e n t s 345
To my mother. Everything I am and ever will be is because of you. Rest in peace, Mom.
xi G L O S S A R Y O F A R A B I C W O R D S Dunya: this world, Earth habibi: brother, friend halal: accepted and allowed in Islam; blessed haram: forbidden in Islam; against the religion insha'Allah: God willing masha'Allah: an expression of appreciation, joy, or praise mujahid (singular)/'mujahideen (plural): one engaged in jihad munafiq (singular)/'munafiqeen (plural): an outward Muslim who is secretly unsympathetic and undermines the Islamic community Muslim Ummah: the collective community of Muslims
xiii N O T E T O T H E R E A D E R American Radical is the story of a group of extraordinary men and women whom I was lucky enough to work alongside for the past nine years and the human toll and sacrifice we make to do the job every day. Only the first names of the actual agents are used. I do this to protect them from harm by enemies of the United States. I refer to publicly recognized senior agents and FBI management by their true names. I have taken great care to avoid going into specific de? tail about training, tactics, and procedures used by the FBI and law enforcement. My intent in writing this book is to ensure that the content gives'a clear and accurate account of the events and experiences in'which I took part, but it is of paramount importance to me that'I'maintain the sanctity and secrecy of operational and security issues.
xiv N o t e t o t h e R e a d e r The majority of the material contained within this book was derived from reports and transcripts generated during the investiga? tion. When no documents were available, scenes were reconstructed from my notes and memory. This book is my perception of what happened and when it happened. If there are inaccuracies in it, the responsibility is mine. This book was reviewed and approved by the FBI, but it presents my views and does not represent the views of the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice, or anyone else.
IC A N R A DIC A L
Super High I was Rico Jordan before I was Tamer Elnoury. Hell, I was a lot of people before I ever got in front of a terrorist. I spent a lot of days looking and acting like a criminal. I had a knack for being able to relate to people. To pull them in and make them feel comfortable, even drug dealers. I became Rico Jordan as soon as I tied my do'rag. I stepped in front of the mirror and smoothed out my thick mus? tache and goatee that grew six or seven inches off my chin. Two hoop earnings went into my left ear. I tucked my baggy pants into my black Timberland boots and slid a pistol between my waistband and the small of my back. It was close to 6:00 p.m. on September 10, 2001. I was working narcotics in New Jersey, so most of my days started when everyone else was headed home. For months, I'd been looking for the
distributor of Super High, a potent batch of heroin coming out of New York. When Super High hit the streets, overdoses skyrocketed. My target was Kit Kat's crew. She and her two sons ran a net? work of dealers working the towns and cities in central New Jersey. After months of buying from them, they agreed to let me meet their Super High source. The supplier's street name was Black. We'd heard of him, but we'd never gotten eyes on him. That was my job. Identify him and wait for the SWAT team to make the arrest. Traffic was thick with the 'bridge-''and-''tunnel crowd coming home. Kit Kat's crew worked out of a row house at the end of an alley with lookouts positioned on the roof. I parked my green Mazda 626 behind the house after circling the block a few times. Most drug dealers will make a couple of passes to make sure the block isn't hot, and I needed to look the part. It also let me relay information back to the waiting SWAT team. While I drove, I nar? rated what I saw into a Nokia cell phone. 'Four guys at the front of the house,' I said. 'No one on the porch.' Billy, my sergeant, was on the other end of the line. He passed each mental picture back to the staging location, a makeshift com? mand center. At the mouth of the alley, I saw the spotters on the roof watching me. With each step, everything slowed in my mind. I'd come a long way since my first drug buy three years ago. My first buy was for 'dip''''shards of crack cocaine chipped off a bigger rock. My hands were sweating as I approached the dealer. I pressed a ? twenty-''dollar bill into his hand and waited for him to fish out a shard from a plastic bag. I was anxious. I couldn't catch my breath. My fingers tingled with adrenaline. I probably looked