I woke up in a Soho doorway
A policeman knew my name
He said, “You can go sleep at home tonight
If you can get up and walk away”
-The Who?, Who Are You?
When Ali Abdel Aziz just showed up on the mats one day in mid-2008 at Renzo Gracie’s New York academy, everyone wondered who the smiling middle eastern dude with the judo black belt was sharing the mats with the team. “Who him? That’s Ali,” fighters who trained jiu-jitsu at the gym who knew him from stints training at Greg Jackson’s academy in Albuquerque would reply without blinking.
Long periods — sometimes weeks, sometimes months — would pass by where nobody at Renzo’s would see Ali. Then he would just show up with the same excuse.
“My mom is sick,” he would say. “I had to go home to Egypt.”
That was the first inclination his Renzo Gracie teammates had that something might be a bit off with this mysterious gypsy judoka.
In Albuquerque Abdel Aziz, who presented himself as an Egyptian world judo champion and former Olympian, slept on Jackson’s sofa here and there during short stints training in the mountains of New Mexico. Unbeknownst to Jackson and partner Mike Winkeljohn, Abdel Aziz was using them so he could glean hand-to-hand combat techniques from the pair that he would teach to members of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra at the group’s Buena Vista, Colorado compound six hours away.
Arabic for “Community of the Impoverished” — Jamaat ul-Fuqra is an extremist Muslim terrorist organization. In the United States the group operates as two fronts: Muslims of America (MOA) and Quranic Open University (QOU).
MOA and QOU own several rural compounds across America inhabited by mostly of poor African-American Muslim converts. It was at these compounds where purported training videos were shot of women wearing hijabs and head scarves over their faces marching in formation while carrying AK-47 assault rifles.
Although it’s debated that al-Qaeda was the group responsible, Jamaat ul-Fuqra is believed by many to be responsible for the death of journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and beheaded on his way to interview MOA leader Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani.
Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo lived and practiced combative training and marksmanship at the MOA’s Red House, Virginia compound — a location Abdel Aziz trained members at during his eight years operating as an informant for the New York Police Department Intelligence department NYPDID.
It was around this time — approximately 2006 or 2007 by Abdel Aziz’s estimation from this account of driving in a car with Georges St-Pierre when the former UFC welterweight champ claims he saw a UFO, that he says he beat Melvin Guillard in the gym every time the pair sparred.
“Listen, Melvin, we had some sparring sessions in the gym at Greg Jackson’s, and I beat Melvin every time. Melvin is never going to be a world champion. Melvin is going to be a world champion of one thing: he taps,” Abdel Aziz told BloodyElbow’s Stephie Haynes. “That’s what Melvin does. That what he does, he’s the world champion of tapping.”
Ironically, the FBI file on Abdel Aziz is stamped with the codename “Tap Out.” The name is in reference to his short-lived 1-3 mixed martial arts career. All three losses were by submission.
Perhaps that’s why he chose Gracie to latch onto in New York after the NYPDID cut him loose for failing an April 4, 2008 lie detector test administered by the FBI at its New York headquarters: he needed protection. Gracie it is said felt sorry for Abdel Aziz who had no family in America. He accepted him into his inner circle and his family.
— Renzo_Gracie_BJJ (@RenzoGracieBJJ) December 3, 2015
A smooth talker (Ali ran a used car lot he co-owned with a high-ranking MOA member he met living in the sect’s “Islamberg” compound in New York), Abdel Aziz quickly gained the trust of the man whose name was on the door, whose career and the careers of several of his relatives he began managing.
He invited members of the Gracie family and his team to his 2009 wedding, and regularly attends their children’s birthday parties. Just like he did the parties of children of members of the MOA when he lived there, like he bragged to Martin Mawyer he did in his 2011 book “Twilight in America.”
His cover was almost blown in 2010. But all good liars always have a back-up lie in their back pockets, and Abdel Aziz is a master of deception.
He told the team he wouldn’t be able to accompany them to Abu Dhabi for Gracie’s fight with Matt Hughes and Frankie Edgar’s fight with BJ Penn at UFC 112 fight on April 10, 2010 . Like Gracie, Edgar is another original Dominance MMA client.
The day before the fight, Gracie and his entourage return to their hotel and are informed by the concierge that there is a man waiting for them in the lobby. As they turn the corner they notice a man with a hood pulled up over his face slouched down on a sofa looking around nervously. When they get closer they realized it was Abdel Aziz, who made up an excuse why he was a few days behind the rest of the team.
They all fly back together to NYC a week later and their plane is stopped on the tarmac and is boarded by NYPDID officers who promptly detain and handcuff Abdel Aziz and begin removing him from the plane, but not before a dramatic moment still etched in the minds of those in attendance would provide Ali with an alibi he would use to this day.
“Renzo, please help me,” he pleaded. “I’m working for the CIA.”
This was a lie. In fact he had been picked up for defying an order from his NYPD handlers to not go to Abu Dhabi. There were mounting concerns that he was deceiving the department and they were beginning to believe the FBI’s assertion that he could be a double agent working for the MOA or another extremist group in Egypt.
At the time he had a special “travel anywhere” visa he was issued while working as an informant for the NYPD — a role he took on to escape punishment after he was arrested for entering the U.S. with a fake passport and fake identity and was photographed in the constant company of MOA members in Colorado.
When his stories didn’t add up, those who knew his CIA “secret” would cover for him. It isn’t their fault. Abdel Aziz is a seasoned liar and sometimes the lies were convenient ones. He even managed to spin his immigration hearing, which was attended by Renzo and several of his teammates.
The judge asked Abdel Aziz why he was in his courtroom the next morning in immigration court. His reply was open-ended. “Your honor, it’s a very long explanation.”
“I have time,” the judge replied.
“Don’t say another word,” a man in a black suit instructed Abdel Aziz.
Moments later the courtroom was cleared and the Renzo Gracie Academy reps began to believe Ali’s unbelievable yarn about being in the CIA.
The minute Abdel Aziz boarded a plane destined for the U.S. it was flagged by the NYPD, who requested that the suspected double agent be deported by Immigration and Naturalization Services. The man in black was one of his NYPDID handlers trying to keep the top-secret mission exactly that — a secret.
The next week Abdel Aziz is back at the academy with an ankle monitoring bracelet. To Gracie and those who heard the CIA lie on the plane he stuck to his cover story, and swore them to secrecy, telling them they can’t tell anyone because it’s classified. To his teammates who already knew something was suspicious about Ali he would tell ridiculous tales.
Take the ankle bracelet.
He claimed it was a heart monitor he had to wear due to a heart condition he had developed. When the batteries got low an audible alarm sounded that put everyone who bought the heart condition lie into a tizzy. One teammate nearly called 911 before Abdel Aziz assured everyone he was fine. A physician who trains at the gym debunked the lie and told enquiring teammates that it was definitely not a heart monitor.
It was around that time, in mid-to-late 2010, when Abdel Aziz contacted Mawyer and painted a vivid, creative tale of his time inside the MOA. To save himself from deportation he compromised the NYPDID’s decade-long MOA investigation.
Between the immunity deal he was made by the NYPDID and the details of his mission he gave Mawyer, Abdel Aziz was able to convince the judge at his eventual deportation hearing that he should remain in the country as a “political refugee.” He isn’t protected by the CIA, the FBI or the NYPD for his “service to America” like he is claiming. He’s on his own.
There are several truths in the book, but there are also several lies Abdel Aziz told Mawyer which I have been able to independently debunk here and in my previous article after speaking to several sources and poring over reams of evidence documents.
Mawyer was able to successfully defend against a $30-million lawsuit made against him by the MOA over claims he made, which were supported by Abdel Aziz’s recorded interviews.
In 2014, The Muslims of America, Inc. (an offshoot of the dissolved MOA) sued the authors of a book called, “Twilight in America: the Untold Story of Islamist Terrorist Training Camps in America,” which accused MOA of training American Muslims for terrorist activity. Many of the book’s allegations are based on the claims of former NYPD undercover informant Ali Aziz, who says he spent eight years posing as a member of MOA.
Much of his testimony was recorded by one of the book’s authors, Martin Mawyer, who is also the founder of the conservative Christian Action Network (CAN). Mawyer published much of Aziz’s testimony on CAN’s website, where he outlined the “Islamic government” known as “Islamberg” that Aziz told him had been formed in Hancock, New York.
“The Town of Islamberg is a bold attempt by an Islamic community, located about 3 hours northwest of New York City, to set up its own city-state, with its own laws, its own government and even its own military,” Mawyer writes.
It’s unlikely Abdel Aziz will explain himself and prove he isn’t a liar given the sheer amount of mounting evidence to the contrary, so his words to Mawyer will have to act as his voice for the time being, at least.
Thanks for reading.
Vulgar display of power: the real story of Ali Abdel Aziz – chapter 3