‘Tamer El­noury’

The Week (US) - - 22 Arts - Elaine Aradil­las

It’s not of­ten that an ac­tive un­der­cover agent pub­lishes a mem­oir de­scrib­ing his work, said in Peo­ple.com. But the FBI vet­eran who in 2013 in­fil­trated an al Qaida cell and helped foil its plot to de­rail a New York– to-Toronto pas­sen­ger train wanted to share his story without hav­ing to quit the bu­reau. So he has writ­ten Amer­i­can Rad­i­cal un­der a past alias, Tamer El­noury. “This gave me an op­por­tu­nity to be a voice for those who don’t have one,” he says of FBI col­leagues whose own sto­ries can’t yet be shared. He also badly wants peo­ple to know that he and other Mus­lim Amer­i­cans are risk­ing their lives to safe­guard this coun­try and its val­ues. “It’s im­por­tant,” he says, “for Amer­i­cans to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween the rad­i­cal mind­set and the true tenets of the reli­gion.”

El­noury loathed the two men he cul­ti­vated dur­ing the Toronto op­er­a­tion. The leader, Chi­heb Esseghaier, was a Tu­nisian-born doc­toral stu­dent who talked about killing hun­dreds of Amer­i­cans and was led to think of El­noury as an Egyp­tian build­ing mag­nate ripe for rad­i­cal­iz­ing. But lis­ten­ing to the younger man’s rants was hard for the New Jersey–raised for­mer cop. Once, while show­ing Esseghaier around New York, he al­most cracked after hear­ing the Tu­nisian share his dream of rain­ing death on lower Man­hat­tan again. “I en­vi­sioned stab­bing him in the eye and drop­ping him dead,” the au­thor re­cently told 60 Min­utes. “Thank­fully for the case, I didn’t.” Esseghaier and his ac­com­plice are now serv­ing life sen­tences. Their foe, who ap­pears above in dis­guise, is on to new tar­gets.

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