Rat in a cage: the real story of Ali Abdel Aziz

In September 2001, just days after 9/11, a young Egyptian national is flagged trying to sneak into the United States via Colorado using a falsified passport.

Ali Abdel Aziz, AKA Ali Ibrahim, AKA Ali A. Aziz, AKA Alaa Abdel Aziz, told investigators that he was an Olympic judoka who came to Colorado to train at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, and to make money to send back home to his ailing mother. He claimed that she died three months after his arrest and submitted her death certificate, which he purportedly got his girlfriend to fly back to Egypt to get, as evidence for his trial.

The jury bought the lie and his “choice of evil” defense (basically that he broke the law to help his sick mother) and found him not guilty, in spite of the simple fact that he had indeed illegally entered the United States.

Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames

And what do I get, for my pain?

Betrayed desires

And a piece of the game

        -Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Multiple sources I have spoken to under the condition of anonymity claim that the story of his mother’s death is false. Abdel Aziz speaks regularly with his mother, and as recently as today has been reaching out to members of the MMA community with a sob story about the compromised safety of his her and his sister back home in Egypt if my story is printed.

He wasn’t concerned about their welfare when he contacted Twilight in America author Martin Mawyer in the fall of 2010 and spilled his guts about his involvement as a high-ranking member and NYPD and FBI informant of suspected terrorist organization, Muslims of America.

After he was exonerated by that Colorado jury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) re-arrested Abdel Aziz, who had been under homeland security surveillance since his release. In between arrests he was photographed by federal agents in the constant company of known members of Muslims of America. Abdel Aziz told Mawyer he taught the group unarmed combat, Arabic, and how to read the Qaran.

He also told Mawyer that this was all merely a coincidence that the group he was teaching were all members of an extremist group, and that he had no clue at the time that his new crew was on law enforcement watch lists.

“I knew some of the MOA guys before going to jail the second time. I befriended them,” Abdel Aziz told Mawyer. “I knew the martial arts, which they liked. I could teach them Arabic. I could teach them how to read the Quran. It wasn’t anything formal, just hanging out. I would go to prayer with them on Fridays and we hung out sometimes. I was about 18 or 19 years old.”

Abdel-Aziz’s K-1 profile lists the Cairo native as being born born in 1977, which would have made him 19 in 1996 – six years prior to his arrest in 2002. Mawyer also mentions that Abdel Aziz was 25 when he was arrested in Colorado.

Abdel-Aziz’s mug shot was printed and distributed by investigators around the OTC while the USAO built a solid case against him. His prospects of receiving a favorable judgment in his trial were dwindling.

Like most states, the USAO doesn’t allow “choice of evil” defenses, especially when there is mounting proof that the terror suspect they have in custody is not at all who he says he is.

For starters, Abdel-Aziz never competed at the Olympics in 1996 like he claimed. In fact, he had never competed at any Olympics at all. He used the lie as a cover to explain to authorities why he was flying into the location of a Muslim sect with extremist ties with a forged document and an imaginary identity.

According to his Dominance MMA bio and a recent interview Abdel Aziz is still keeping up with the fake Olympic competition claim. It even states that he made the move to train at the [U.S.] Olympic training Center in Colorado Springs… while going to school and supporting his family in Egypt.” In reality, he was chased out of the OTC by security guards in 2004. They recognized him from the “NOT ALLOWED ON PREMISES” memo the the FBI had tacked above the doors of every security post on the compound.

ALIPROFILE

Egypt sent two athletes to those games in Atlanta: a 6’1” 220 lb men’s half heavyweight Bassel El-Gharbawy, and  5’ 7.5” 287 lbs. women’s heavyweight Heba Hefny.

For comparison here’s a detailed description of Abdel Aziz written by Mawyer:

alidescription

ALi

There are two main reasons you would need a fake passport to enter the United States: either you have a past criminal record, or your name is on a list, flagged for known links to terrorist organizations.

Based on his deceitfulness, passport forgery, use of multiple aliases and with the mounting evidence against him that he had ties to MOA, Abdel Aziz’s lawyer suggested he take an offer designed by New York Police Department Intelligence Division (NYPDID) head David Cohen, formerly fourth in charge at the CIA.

Members of the NYPDID, an anti-terrorism intelligence task force established post 9/11, met With Abdel Aziz in a Colorado prison conference room where he signed on to turn informant against his MOA associates.

As part of the deal Abdel Aziz was deported back to Egypt for a few months as a cover. When he returned he did so with a special restriction-free green card that allowed him to travel freely to and from the U.S. which he did often to help the MOA establish branches in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Venezuela and Trinidad.

He was set up by the NYPID in a modest apartment in Binghamton, New York.

In NYPD reports he is referred to as “Confidential Informant (CI) 184,” or  “Dolphin.” The latter in reference to his squeaky staccato voice, which reminded his handlers of the sounds of dolphins communicating.

His FBI jacket refers to Abdel Aziz as the codename “Tap Out” based on his proclivity for being submitted in his fights.

DominanceMMA.com’s website claimed “Ali’s experience in judo is well documented with a record of 513-33 judo fights.”

Not according to www.judoinside.com, the Sherdog Fight Finder of judo. The website came up empty with entries under any of Abdel Aziz’s known aliases.

Even the fight career of Abdel Aziz was a facade, whose primary purpose was to hide the exorbitant amount of money he was being paid to spy for the NYPD.

“I was fighting and I sold cars on the side. The cars were just to maintain my cover. They told me go start a car dealership,” he explained to Mawyer. “They told me to start fighting in fights, you know? I’d make a minimum $ 30,000 in the fights.”

One of my NYPD sources who would not go on the record, but told me he would testify to these facts in court, said this is categorically false and that Abdel Aziz bought the used car dealership on his own accord and brought a senior MOA officer on as equal partner.

Fighting as Ali Ibrahim, Abdel Aziz went 2-0 as an amateur and 1-3 as a pro, fighting mostly under the Ring of Fire banner in Colorado alongside his Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA teammates like Carlos Condit. Fighting in Colorado and training at Team Jackson-Winkeljohn in Albuquerque for extended periods of time provided him with the perfect cover to establish   — Abdel Aziz told Bleacher Report’s Hunter Homistek that he was training at Jackson-Winkeljohn with GSP in 2006 or 2007 when the former UFC welterweight champion saw a UFO in Albuquerque.

“I never believed in this stuff, you know? And it freaked me out,” he said. “It happened, and to this day, I never really discussed it with anybody. But he (Georges) is not crazy,” Abdel Aziz assured Homistek. “I saw this thing a couple months later, I saw the same exact thing. Something that looked similar to it. It was in the sky for like 10 minutes. By myself.

“I was in the car by myself driving back from Greg Jackson’s gym to where I was staying, and I saw it again,” he recalled. “And I never really discussed it with anybody because I know how people are, they’ll think I’m crazy or something. Everything Georges is saying is 100 percent true.”

Abdel Aziz fought and lost to Caol Uno in K-1 and was submitted shockingly easily and quickly by Shinya Aoki in Budo Challenge.

During his eight years inside the MOA Abdel Aziz lived mostly at Islamberg, which Wikipedia calls “a rural hamlet in the town of Tompkins, Delaware County, New York, United States, founded by Mubarak Ali Gilani, a Pakistani Sufi cleric.”

According to videos purportedly given to the Clarion Project by a law enforcement source, the compound was little less idyllic than advertised in the brochure.

While living in Islamberg Abdel Aziz married and bore a child with the sister of a high-ranking MOA member. He bragged to Mawyer how she unwittingly provided him access to her brother and his cache of MOA documents as they all lived together in a double wide trailer.  He left wife and son both behind in Islamberg after he was let go from his CI role. She remarried and still lives on the commune in Islamberg, and now refers to him as her “former ATM machine.”

Abdel Aziz also rose up in the ranks as a senior officer and bodyguard of Barry Adams, the head of MOA operations in North America.

Adams and his co-conspirator, Wali Muhammad, were arrested, tried, and found guilty of planning a 1994 bombing in Toronto that would have killed an estimated 4500 victims had they hit their target Hindu temple and East Indian theatre. Intel released during his trial linked Adams to Jammat al Fuqra, a Pakistan-based terrorist group that had previously not been concretely linked to the MOA. The Trinidad natives served their full 12-year sentences and were deported back to Trinidad in 2006, where they were met as they got of the plane by Abdel Aziz.

terrorist-training-camps-in-the-usa

It was Adams who bestowed Abdel Aziz with an insidious nickname: “The Jackal.”

TheJackal
(photo courtesy of Twilight in America)

The pseudonym was a hat tip to Carlos “The Jackal,” AKA Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, a Muslim convert and prolific mass murderer and well known terrorist, as far as popular terrorists go.

Sanchez claimed responsibility for more than 1500 murders over his career as an extremist. He is currently serving a life sentence for the 1975 murder of a French informant and the 1997 killings of two French counter-intelligence agents.

Abdel Aziz was officially let go from his role as FBI informant soon after failing a polygraph test administered by the at bureau headquarters in NYC on April 4, 2008. The test was called after agents in the field suspected Abdel Aziz was acting as a double agent. His stories didn’t seem to add up and some of the intel he was giving them turned out to be bogus. Results from that test indicated he was deceiving investigators about his sharing of sensitive information about his top-secret eight-year operation as an embedded Muslims of America operative with someone back in Egypt.

The polygraph technician, FBI special agent Mike Templeton asked the following questions after running through the baselines four times:

  1. Are you now in NYC?
  1. Are you currently employed?
  1. Is today Friday?
  1. Have you told anyone from a government other than the United States that you are cooperating with United States Law Enforcement?
  1. Have you told anyone from a target organization under investigation that you are cooperating with United States law enforcement?
  1. Before cooperating with the NYPD did you ever tell an important lie to someone who loved you?
  1. Before you were incarcerated did you ever lie just to make yourself seem important?
  1. Regarding the confidentiality of your relationship with United States law enforcement do you intend to be completely honest on this test?

Templeton pressed the informant whether or not he was sharing info with individuals back in Egypt. He also questioned him about relationships he had and made accusations about his movements in New Mexico. Results indicated Abdel Aziz was showing varying levels of deception to questions 2 and 8.

A heated discussion between Templeton and attending NYPDID officers about the deception and possible reasons for it took place after Abdel Aziz was sent for a bathroom break. The test was cut short and the result officially listed as “deceptive with no admissions, interrupted and terminated by the NYPD.”

The FBI severed ties with Abdel Aziz after losing faith in the informant, but it would take another year for the NYPD to come to the same conclusion. They severed ties with him in late 2010.

Abdel Aziz originally reached out to Mawyer in September of 2010 in what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to stop his imminent deportation back to Egypt. He had been trying to reach Calla through any means necessary — including a call he placed to his elderly mother — to convince him to testify at his upcoming immigration hearing.

Ali had been being picked up flying back from the United Arab Emirates — a trip he made without permission from the NYPD.

Mawyer, a veteran investigative journalist was a thorn in the side of MOA. Abdel Aziz knew him well from MOA monitoring of news about their group. He also knew that he was working on a documentary and a book as he had been poking around the organization’s multiple compounds.

Abdel Aziz was hopeful that the documentary producer and author could help prevent his extradition. To gain his trust Abdel Aziz eventually provided Mawyer with classified documents and photographic proof of his operation as an NYPDID informant embedded in the MOA.

The author was somewhat skeptical about the fast-talking Egyptian native who he first spoke with over the phone.

The following passage is Mawyer’s detailed description of that call:

“This was a most frustrating call. Ali’s foreign accent was extremely difficult to understand, especially over the phone. He was angry, emotionally wound up and speaking with such rapidity that at times his speech was nothing but a hurried blur. It was clear, however, that he wanted to meet with me somewhere in New York at a time and location to be disclosed later. Obviously, this was not going to happen without further information. Ali wasn’t the first person to call our office seeking to meet with me, or the co-producer of our film, Jason Campbell, under some highly suspicious setting or arrangement.

I was on the phone with Ali for nearly two hours during that first phone conversation trying to understand the purpose of his call. I asked
him to slow down, to repeat himself, to spell anything I couldn’t understand. By the end of the conversation it was becoming evident that he might be exactly who he claimed to be— an undercover agent for the NYPD. Of all the things Ali said, one thing stood out that made it highly probable that he was working for the NYPD. Ali asked me if I knew Detective David Bavasi. My answer was, “No. I never heard of him.” “Yes,” he said. “You do know him. He called your home. He talks about you all the time. He left a message on your phone on his way to South Carolina when I was in his car. He said he wanted to stop by and see some of the film and photos you have on Muslims of the Americas.”

Bavasi was actually detective David Calla, one of Abdel Aziz’s four handlers during his stint as a CI. When contacted by Mawyer about Abdel Aziz reaching out to discuss his role with the NYPDID, Calla seemed concerned.

“He used to work for me,” Calla informed Mawyer. “Is he trying to threaten me and my family?”

“Not at all,” Mawyer assured him. “It seems he wants to locate you. He wants you to testify at his upcoming deportation hearing. He says he needs proof that he was an undercover agent.”

“Ali is headed back to Egypt. He’s going to be deported,” Det. Calla retorted, noticeably angry. “If he keeps asking questions about me, he’ll be put back in jail. The NYPD is going to see if this is a threat against me, my wife, and my children. We’re going to do a threat assessment on him. So you might get a call from our threat assessment department. And if he keeps asking questions about me, he’ll find himself deported even faster.”

I spoke with Calla to get his side of the story since Mawyer really only told Abdel Aziz’s version of events.

He helped corroborate the accuracy of my other sources’ recollections of events and helped correct a few of the previously purported facts in Mawyer’s book, which have been amended where necessary.

Although he is retired from the NYPD, Calla declined to go on the record about any of the classified previously unreleased details of Abdel Aziz’s time with the NYPD and FBI. He told me he would like to put Abdel Aziz behind him.

“He ruined a lot of reputations with his lies and deceit. I wish I could say more, but I can’t,” Calla told me. “I will tell you this, though, if you ever interview him make sure you fact check everything he says because he is a habitual liar and will do whatever it takes to get himself out of trouble.”

 

One former Egyptian national judo team member I spoke with recently who knows and has trained with both members of Egypt’s 1996 Olympic judo team offered a similar warning: “Never trust the words from his mouth. Get everything in writing. He is snake.”

More to come. Stay tuned.

About Mike

One comment

  1. If the things written in this article are true, I am stunned this guy is accepted by the MMA community, let alone allowed to be in the United States!

    I’m curious, though. Why is it that other MMA sites haven’t reported on this info more widely? Doing a quick Google search, your articles are the only major things that come up regarding this guy being an informant (not counting threads in forums). With this info being as huge as it is, why isn’t this being covered by the major MMA news outlets? I mean, this guy is a fixture at UFC events and manages RDA and Frankie Edgar, one of whom is the friggin Lightweight Champion and the other being a perennial P4Per.

    Any insight as to why you’re the only one reporting on this stuff? I’m not suggesting that I don’t believe you, I’m genuinely curious.

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