Tamer Elnoury is a patriotic American, a proud Muslim, and a highly-effective undercover agent. As part of the FBI's elite counterterrorism taskforce, he's made a living out of fooling some of the world's most dangerous radicals. In Part 1, Tamer goes undercover to meet with a Tunisian scientist whom the FBI suspects of holding extremist views. But in his world, there's no such thing as simple meet-and-greet. When things start to go sideways, Tamer has to think fast to stay on course. Sophia Di Martino narrates.
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True Spies, Episode 151: American Radical, Part 1: The Bump

NARRATOR: This is True Spies, the podcast that takes you deep inside the greatest secret missions of all time. Week by week, you’ll hear the true stories behind the operations that have shaped the world we live in. You’ll meet the people who live life undercover. What do they know? What are their skills? And what would you do in their position? I’m Sophia Di Martino and this is True Spies from SPYSCAPE Studios. Tamer Elnoury was fully vetted by al-Qaeda. He was real in the world of terrorism. He was a diamond in the rough, and if you peel enough layers of the onion back, you see that Tamer Elnoury is exactly what any jihadi would want… This is True Spies: American Radical, Part 1: The Bump. It’s the morning of September 11, 2001, and the new sky is crisp and clear. Down below, on the streets of New Jersey, it’s business as usual. Rico Jordan is buying crack.

TAMER ELNOURY: That morning was a Tuesday morning. And the dealer himself - it was a brand new case, I just started - the dealer himself, after the deal was done, said to me, “Did you hear some drunk flew a Cessna into the Towers?” I was like, “Oh, my God, I hope nobody got hurt.” Didn't think anything of it. Jumped in my car after the buy, put my crack cocaine in an evidence bag, and put it on the seat.

NARRATOR: Rico Jordan is a cop - an undercover. He works narcotics, making buys and busting dealers. It’s a tough beat but he loves the work and he loves being good at it. 

TAMER ELNOURY: There are a lot of things in law enforcement that I'm not good at and wouldn't even attempt to try. However, the undercover world was tailor-made for me.

NARRATOR: But this morning is not like any other morning. As Rico drives back to the safe house, the dealer’s morbid attempt at small talk takes on a terrifying resonance.

TAMER ELNOURY: I turned the radio on. And in my ride to the safe house, it became more and more clear that this wasn't an accident. And it wasn't until I got to the safe house and we turned on the news that I understood and realized what was happening.

NARRATOR: And that’s the last we’ll hear of Rico Jordan. We have no more use for him here. He’s a construct - an alias, one of the manifold half-lives of the man you’ll get to know during this podcast. A man whose professionalism, determination, and adaptability thwarted a deadly Islamist plot on North American soil.

TAMER ELNOURY: My name is Tamer Elnoury. I have been employed by the US government's National Security Covert Operations Unit. It's an elite, covert counterterrorism Task Force dedicated to combating terrorism domestically and abroad. All of the agents and operatives were essentially plucked and pulled and recruited from law enforcement agencies across the country, each bringing with them a unique skill set to the team.

NARRATOR: Tamer Elnoury, we should make clear, is an alias too. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t tell you this true spy’s real name. It’s a closely guarded secret - and by the end of this episode, you’ll know why. But here’s what he could share.

TAMER ELNOURY: I was born in Egypt and came to the United States when I was a little boy. My parents worked several jobs. The American Dream got us to where we were going - to college, me, and my sister. I went to college, studied criminal justice, and went into law enforcement in the mid-'90s.

Tamer is a practicing Muslim. And like most Muslim Americans, his life was changed for the worse by the events of 9/11.

TAMER ELNOURY: Before 9/11, my religion was just my religion. To this day, my best friends in the world are Jewish, Christian, or Buddhist. None of that ever mattered. We were just all Americans, living our lives with different faiths. After 9/11, there was a light shone on my religion in a very negative way. Some savage in a cave made me and my family the enemy that day.

NARRATOR: In the aftermath of the attacks, Tamer was determined to bring his considerable skills to bear on the War on Terror.

TAMER ELNOURY: After 9/11, I hounded the FBI. 

NARRATOR: Years earlier, after graduating in the ‘90s, Tamer had met with a recruiter to discuss a career with the Bureau. At the time, he’d been an enticing prospect. The rise of Islamic extremism was building to its deadly crescendo, and the US government was keen to recruit native Arabic speakers to head off potential threats. Ultimately, he’d decided to pass on the opportunity. He didn’t want to spend his formative years in an unmarked van, eavesdropping through a headset. He wanted to get his hands dirty. The New Jersey Police Department was more than happy to oblige. But now, as the Western world reeled from an assault on its totems, the FBI wouldn’t return Tamer’s calls. 

TAMER ELNOURY: They weren't prepared, in my opinion, to have someone like me help them because they didn't know which way we were going.

NARRATOR: Nonplussed, Tamer remained on the narcotics squad. Years later, in 2008, a chance meeting at his local Department of Motor Vehicles presented a new opportunity to serve his country.

TAMER ELNOURY: I ran into an undercover coordinator at a DMV - special DMV for law enforcement - where he ended up buying me a cup of coffee because I was there getting some alias identification for my narcotics jobs.

NARRATOR: The undercover coordinator, an FBI agent who we’ll call Vinnie, was intrigued by Tamer’s background.

TAMER ELNOURY: When we got to talking, he explained to me that there was a different path now with the FBI as far as covert operations in the world of counterterrorism. 

NARRATOR: After 9/11, Vinnie explained, the FBI had been - in his words - ‘a clusterf***’. Now, with a few years removed, cooler heads prevailed - and Tamer’s potential could no longer be ignored. In theory, he was a perfect fit for the Bureau. But theory only gets you so far.

TAMER ELNOURY: They're not going to invest that time, money, and energy into your training, into your security, clearances, all that stuff, simply because you can speak a language or you look a certain way. The undercover mindset, the undercover technique is an art. It's an art form. And not many people in law enforcement can do it per se.

NARRATOR: Before he could become a paid-up FBI agent, he’d need to prove himself in the field. 

TAMER ELNOURY: The FBI brought me into a criminal case first, to get a feel for how I carried myself and how I operated in an undercover capacity because they weren't going to put me in front of terrorists across the globe if I couldn't carry myself or conduct myself properly in an undercover capacity. 

NARRATOR: Turkish traffickers were moving Middle Eastern immigrants into the US illegally via Mexico. The Bureau had a bead on the ringleader but needed an undercover with a face that fit to seal the deal. Disguised as a property manager on the hunt for cheap and uncomplicated labor, Tamer met with the gang. He wore a wire. The information he gathered led to a series of arrests.

TAMER ELNOURY: And shortly thereafter, I got recruited into what I call ‘the dark side’, the counterterrorism side of the house of the FBI.

NARRATOR: After sharpening up his skills at the Bureau’s undercover school, Tamer set out on this new and dangerous vocation in earnest. But if he was going to befriend terrorists, he needed a rock-solid alias. A legend.

TAMER ELNOURY: Tamer Elnoury was born in Egypt and came to the States when he was a young boy. He was raised here as an American, he speaks Arabic like he speaks English, without an accent. He is a business major. He studied real estate, and his uncle, who had some radical thoughts and ideas and was a supporter of the Mujahideen overseas, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula specifically, recruited him into the business.

NARRATOR: The alias had much in common with the ‘real’ Tamer - every great lie contains a grain of truth, after all. But every aspect of Tamer’s new identity was tailored to appeal to his targets.

TAMER ELNOURY: Tamer wore expensive suits. He dressed and looked and sounded American. He spoke English with a New York/New Jersey accent. He drove a Mercedes. He traveled often, everywhere. And everything he did was top-shelf. He wore a long beard and kept a short haircut. He wore expensive watches and expensive shoes. Everything about him screamed money. And that was done purposely. Because the subjects needed to understand that money wasn't an object, without me having to tell them that.

NARRATOR: Money talks. Wealth whispers. This shiny facsimile of the real Tamer was a machine-tooled money guy - a man for whom a few grand to a good cause would mean little. It wasn’t long before the FBI put him to work full-time.

TAMER ELNOURY: We had a case that originated out of San Francisco. I met some al-Qaeda facilitators to get to the top of the food chain if you will. The meetings went well stateside and I was invited overseas to meet with their ‘supervisors’ for lack of a better word.

NARRATOR: Tamer traveled to an undisclosed location in the Arabian Gulf to meet with the leader of an al-Qaeda cell.

TAMER ELNOURY: It was probably one of the biggest cases I've worked on and I have to tread lightly, obviously, because that case is still classified. But I will say that it is completely different, operating overseas. It is completely different, which is why members of the National Security Covert Operations Unit are a unique breed. We have to wear two hats.

NARRATOR: After 10 years as an undercover cop, Tamer thought he had the game nailed down. But operating abroad comes with unique challenges - challenges that might be more familiar to an intelligence officer than a policeman.

TAMER ELNOURY: The difference between operating stateside and overseas… Some of those differences were subtle but most of them were almost like a completely different job, even in the world of counterterrorism. When I'm meeting a suspect here, and I'm looking to collect evidence, it's important to understand that when I put my police hat on, I record meetings and phone calls, I collect evidence, I build a prosecutable case for the US attorney. And if that case ever went to trial, my identity was protected so I can continue to do my job. But when I operated overseas, I had to learn how to operate on foreign soil without being detected - and without any backup. I couldn't make recordings. Everything had to be in my mind, my memory, my notes. I was watched by the good guys and the bad guys. I was on my own.

NARRATOR: No backup. No way home. Just the mission, and the legend.

TAMER ELNOURY: It's important to trust in your legend, trust in your training, trust in the process, and be who you are 24/7. There are no safe houses when you're overseas, in your field, in your in the arena where you're working. There are safe houses in other countries, friendlies, such as yours, or other countries that are friendlies to the US. But while you're operating overseas, you're essentially on your own and the intelligence that you gather is crucial to the mission.

NARRATOR: Tamer thrived in this new environment. He can’t go into detail, but this first major outing as a globe-trotting terrorist financier was a roaring success.

TAMER ELNOURY: The outcomes were successful in that all the major players and all the bad guys were neutralized as far as this case was concerned, and they weren't going to be a threat to the US or the West anymore. 

NARRATOR: What’s more, the Tamer Elnoury alias had survived the operation intact. It was stronger than ever.

TAMER ELNOURY: Tamer Elnoury was fully vetted by al-Qaeda. He was real in the world of terrorism.

NARRATOR: After his adventure in the Gulf, Tamer’s radical doppelganger had acquired a texture of reality. 

TAMER ELNOURY: And Tamer Elnoury was, for lack of a better word, a perfect alias in this world. He was set up as a financial asset, but also Tamer meant access to the West. Anything and everything that al-Qaeda needed covertly to be brought in or led through the US, Tamer Elnoury was going to be that facilitator.

NARRATOR: A legend this strong is a rare thing.

TAMER ELNOURY: So normally, we don't use more than one alias for a case.

NARRATOR: In the case of Tamer, the FBI was prepared to make an exception.

TAMER ELNOURY: It's not the norm. But this one was different, this next case was unique.

NARRATOR: Tamer was about to face a challenge that would lead him to the mortal edge of his abilities and of his faith.

TAMER ELNOURY: The five pillars of Islam - which almost two billion Muslims across the globe believe in - are all peaceful. The first one is there is only one God, and Muhammad is his prophet. The second pillar is making prayers five times a day. That third pillar is fasting during the month of Ramadan, to understand and know what it means when people who don't have everything can't get it. So you have to understand the plights of those that are less fortunate. The fourth pillar is making what's called ‘Zakat’, which is donations that are mandatory for Muslims to make. Based on their salaries based on what you have, you have to donate to the poor. And the fifth pillar is, if and when you are physically and financially capable, you would make the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

NARRATOR: For radicals, a sixth pillar exists.

TAMER ELNOURY: Which is jihad. If you look at the five pillars of Islam, they're all based on and rooted in giving and sharing and being kind to mankind. And the sixth pillar that the Jihadis believe in just doesn't fit.

NARRATOR: FBI undercover specialist Tamer has just closed out his first overseas operation but he has no time to rest on his laurels.

TAMER ELNOURY: I had arrived back stateside and jumped into the rest of my caseload when I got a phone call from FBI headquarters about a possible threat in Montreal, Canada. This case was being run out in New York City and they wanted me to go meet with the case agents. I balked initially because my caseload was tremendous and they knew that.

NARRATOR: Headquarters assured Tamer that the new mission was nothing to worry about - a breeze, even.

TAMER ELNOURY: This would be a three-day or four-day babysitting assignment at most.

NARRATOR: The New York office had identified a suspect, Chiheb Esseghaier. They needed an undercover to get in front of him and determine whether or not he posed a terrorist threat.

TAMER ELNOURY: Chiheb Esseghaier is a Tunisian-born, brilliant Ph.D. student, world-renowned for his work in biological nanotechnology. And if you're going to ask me what that is, I wish I could tell you. His work was more like science fiction to me. But people in the science community raved about him. They wrote articles about him. They said he was on the precipice of curing some forms of cancer, and other infectious diseases. His mind was truly a gift to humanity. He was born and raised in Tunisia and he came to Canada on a student visa to get his Ph.D. and his doctorate in biological nanotechnology because of his brilliance in that field.

NARRATOR: Chiheb had landed on the intelligence community’s radar after making contact with several dubious characters, some of whom occupied pole positions on government watch lists.

TAMER ELNOURY: And as I mentioned, this case was being run out of New York City so I got to work with the best in the business - CT-1, the al-Qaeda squad.

NARRATOR: It’s not unusual for Canada and the US to collaborate on cases like this. After all, when a threat is posed to one, it could all too easily spread to the other. Tamer had to get to know Chiheb and, if possible, wheedle out any terrorist sympathies that the scientist might hold. But first things first. It was time for Step One: The Bump.

TAMER ELNOURY: The bump that I describe in the book is essentially an initial meet that is very, very planned out and mapped out by us in an effort for me to insert myself into that individual's life.

NARRATOR: This Bump was set to take place on a connecting flight from Houston to San Jose, where Chiheb was attending a conference. It was Father’s Day, 2012. A plan was in place - a meticulous stage play that would put Tamer right in Chiheb’s lap. It drew on his years of experience as a state-sponsored confidence man - slick and self-assured. Well, it would have done. If he’d needed it.

TAMER ELNOURY: There was a mix-up with both of our seats. Chiheb, his English at the time was not very good. He speaks six languages fluently and English was one of them, but he wasn't as comfortable with English as he was with everything else. Because of the mix-up, he was trying to talk to one flight attendant in the economy section, and I was talking to a flight attendant in the first class section, right when we first boarded the flight. He turned and saw my face, what I was wearing, and what I looked like. I was a Middle Eastern Arab male on that flight. He tapped me on the shoulder and he asked me in Arabic, he said, “Hal tatakallam al-lugha al-Arabiya?”, which means “Do you speak Arabic?” And I responded in Arabic, “Of course I do.” And we had the Islamic greeting: “Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh...” (Peace be upon you and God's mercy and blessings.) “Wa Alaikum Salaam Wa Rahmatullah...” (“And upon you be peace and God’s mercy…) Right off the bat, he was immediately comfortable with the fact that he could speak his native language in Houston, Texas, with someone and he asked the flight attendant at that moment, “Can we please sit together? You have to have us sit together.” At that moment, the flight attendant agreed. They found two seats right near the entrance of the plane where we were getting on. And that was history.

NARRATOR: Thrilled to have found a Muslim brother to spend the flight with, Chiheb took a shine to his well-dressed companion. Sharply-suited but traditionally bearded, Tamer intrigued the Tunisian scientist. 

TAMER ELNOURY: The Bump went great. We immediately hit it off. We became fast friends.

NARRATOR: During the flight, the conversation turned to Islam. Sure enough, Chiheb's views were on the far side of conservative. But that’s not illegal in itself. More work was required. Later, on the ground in San Jose, their bond was sealed with a gift from Tamer to Chiheb.

TAMER ELNOURY: His phone wasn't working in the US. He had a Canadian phone that wasn't programmed for international calls and we couldn't communicate.

NARRATOR: Tamer - wealthy, magnanimous, and beholden to the mores of Islamic hospitality - was only too happy to provide a replacement handset. Anything for a brother.

TAMER ELNOURY: I think it's safe to say everyone in the world understands the reason why I gave him an electronic device.

NARRATOR: Beware FBI agents bearing gifts. The phone, naturally, was tapped. The Bureau now had a direct insight into Chiheb’s electronic communications. Another lucky break - and one Tamer wasted no time in exploiting. But there was no guarantee that Chiheb would incriminate himself over text, phone, or email. Tamer had a week until the Tunisian returned to his home in Canada. At that time, he needed to get under the man’s skin - and eke out his darkest desires. As any long-time listener to True Spies will be aware, this kind of undercover work has much in common with seduction - up to and including the subtle art of the dinner date. Tamer arranged to meet Chiheb at a Moroccan restaurant in San Jose, a recommendation from a fellow FBI agent who’d spent time in the city. With a halal menu and North African decor, it seemed an appropriate venue in which to charm his devout target.

TAMER ELNOURY: I thought the mission was simple: figure out who he was, figure out if he was bad, if he had intentions, if he was of the jihadi mindset, and then we punt it to the Canadians. But that night, at the Moroccan restaurant, everything kind of started to go sideways.

NARRATOR: As they entered the restaurant, Tamer’s watchful eye was immediately drawn to the bar. Suddenly, he wasn’t thirsty. It seemed the agent who had recommended the restaurant had a lot to answer for.

TAMER ELNOURY: I did not know that that particular restaurant had a bar. When you're taking a Mujahideen mindset person, you certainly don't want liquor, or anything, any form of sexual activity, if you will, at a restaurant. You want it to be as mundane as possible. You want the food to be halal, blessed by an Imam. You want everything to be quiet and you don't want women dressed scantily. You want it to be as conservative and reserved as possible. 

NARRATOR: Tamer thought fast. Already, Chiheb was beginning to rankle at the sight of the liquor.

TAMER ELNOURY: I got us a table as far away from the bar as possible so that he wouldn't see the liquor that he was appalled by. 

NARRATOR: Bullet dodged, and Tamer and Chiheb relaxed into their conversation. Soon, it turned to Islamic politics - entirely by design, of course. But it soon became apparent that a few bottles of the good stuff were the least of Tamer’s problems.

TAMER ELNOURY: As soon as we're getting into an awesome conversation, getting to know each other, really really diving into his mindset, there was a disco ball that dropped - several disco balls that dropped throughout the restaurant - and the lights went down. And all of a sudden, from a side door, a beautiful belly dancer came out, not wearing many clothes and dancing to music.

NARRATOR: This is not ideal.

TAMER ELNOURY: The second I saw that my heart sank. I realized this could be what sets him off the edge, especially knowing who Chiheb was, and what his mindset was at this point. This was going to be the end of the case. 

NARRATOR: So far, Tamer has had to be reactive. He rolls with the punches. A mix-up on the plane? He can make that work for him. A new phone? That, he can make happen - no problem. But now, he’s taken a hardline Islamist to a belly-dancing restaurant complete with disco balls. He’s struggling to see the upside. Fortunately, his undercover tradecraft provides a safety net.

TAMER ELNOURY: So I stood up immediately and said I was going to go talk to a manager. I caught our waiter. I slipped him some money and said, “Please, please ask her not to go anywhere near our table, or even that back room where we're at.” It worked out that we were somewhat secluded in the back corner. So she never came by that way. Thankfully, I didn't pretend to know this restaurant. I said that a friend of mine back East recommended it, purposely, because I will never say I've been somewhere that I haven't been for situations like this. 

NARRATOR: By now, Tamer has dodged so many bullets that you’d recognize his outline on the wall. But he’s able to continue his overture to Chiheb unmolested. He’s approaching a pivotal point in the seduction - the moment he reveals that Tamer shares in the Jihadist mindset, that he is a friend of al-Qaeda, and that his motivations are beyond suspicion. To make this moment work, he needs to reveal his ‘point of radicalization’ - the event that turned the ersatz Tamer against his adopted country.

TAMER ELNOURY: So, in my real life, my mother did die of brain cancer. She was in a hospital and she died after one month. She was diagnosed Fourth of July weekend and died on August 10, a little more than a month later. It was fast. It was devastating for me. I was 24 years old and my mother was my world. And the reality of how it happened, it was a brain tumor. It was an aggressive brain tumor and it devastated me and it still devastates me more than 25 years later. The thing is, what my point of radicalization is, I used that real pain, that real hurt, and twisted the facts a little bit in an effort to make my anger real. I can't act. I have to connect with these monsters on a human level. I don't care about the classified stuff. I don't care about what's on those documents. All that matters is that I and my subject connect on a human level. And the only way that's going to happen is if they feel my pain, they truly believe my anger and anguish and heartache. And my mother's death was real. 

NARRATOR: Tamer explained to Chiheb that, while his mother was dying, she’d been mistreated by the American hospital staff because of her religion.

TAMER ELNOURY: But the reality is, she was loved and adored by the doctors and the nurses. She was the hit of the floor. Everyone loved her. People who barely knew her cried when she died. But I twisted the facts. I made it so that they were discriminatory against my mother. They didn't give her the care that she deserved. They didn't treat her like they treated anyone else. And by making that falsehood a reality - that was the only lie in the story - I was able to generate genuine anger and anguish toward the West. And any jihadi worth his salt, if Chiheb was who we thought he was, he would bite. And he would jump on that and use my wealth, my access, and my anger, to benefit him.

NARRATOR: Chiheb was enthralled. Playing out his legend, Tamer revealed that, after his mother’s death, he had been taken under the wing of a wealthy uncle with ties to jihadists in the Middle East. When his fictitious uncle left America permanently, he entrusted Tamer with his lucrative property business in New York and left him with some parting words: “Live among them, to defeat them.” Now, Chiheb was champing at the bit. He told Tamer that his uncle must surely be a brilliant man. And volunteered some weighty words of his own. “With you in America and me in Canada, we can do great things together, my brother.”

TAMER ELNOURY: So, at first glance when you see Chiheb, he's a scientist. He's an Arab scientist. He wears glasses. He's about 5’ 8” - maybe 5’ 9” - medium build, doesn't look too intimidating at all. He has a big thick beard and big thick hair. And when he laughs and smiles, he smiles with his whole face. You could see the creases in his eyes when he truly laughed and he truly smiled. I jokingly referred to him as Baba Noel, which is the Arabic name for Santa Claus, because he laughed so heartily and from the heart. But I watched him hide his true self from the rest of the world, while he slowly and privately revealed it to me. 

NARRATOR: “We can do great things together.” To Tamer, this could only mean one thing. During their conversation, Chiheb had already alluded to certain permissible ‘actions’ by Muslims in times of war. Now, he was heavily implying that he and Tamer might work together to attack Americans and Canadians on their home turf. As he spoke, his smiling face darkened.

TAMER ELNOURY: The look in Chiheb’s eyes when he talked about killing Americans was something I'd never seen before. I've seen anger and determination before, but this was different. This was a look of pure hatred and death.

NARRATOR: Time to wrap things up.

TAMER ELNOURY: So by the end of that week, despite the belly dancer and the liquor, we bonded, we connected on every level. And he did try to subtly recruit me. But I did push him away. I led him to believe that I didn't know him like that, we had just met. I knew enough. In my mind, I pushed him away because I thought, “It looks good. We generated the relationship. I got what I needed. I got him to tell me, essentially, who he was, and what he wanted in this Western world. I got to understand that he was living among us as us to try to defeat us and that he had a Mujahideen mentality.” At that moment, I was convinced our involvement in the case was done. We were going to tell the Canadians, and we did, “Hey, you're screwed. You can't take your eyes off this guy. He's the real freakin’ deal.” And that was it. And they were going to handle it and do what they were going to do because I had a dozen other cases to attend to. But that's not how it played out.

NARRATOR: Over the next few months, Tamer kept the relationship on life-support. The Canadians would be watching Chiheb but you can never be too careful.

TAMER ELNOURY: Well, at the end of the week after the bump with Chiheb and the meeting, I flew out to St. Louis for another case and Chiheb flew back to Montreal. And that summer, it's important to note that [during] that whole summer of 2012, Chiheb and I spoke all the time. We talked on the phone. We exchanged emails and text messages. We became very close because we needed to keep tabs on this guy because he was just too dangerous. 

NARRATOR: Toward the end of that summer, with the threat of Fall in the air, Tamer was due to spend Labor Day weekend at a friend’s wedding. He had promised.

TAMER ELNOURY: Because my friends knew my job kept me on the road, I jealously guarded that weekend.

NARRATOR: Inevitably, complications arose.

TAMER ELNOURY: Right before that weekend, before I was scheduled to fly out, the day before my flight, I got a phone call from the Special Agent in Charge, the SAC of the FBI New York Field Office, who asked me to come in before my flight to meet with the Assistant Director of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and his entourage because they had a bunch of questions about my new best friend, Chiheb Esseghaier. And that's when it all started.

NARRATOR: Next time on True Spies, Tamer goes north of the border as a babysitting assignment lurches into the realm of life or death...

TAMER ELNOURY: We explained the Mujahideen mindset and all the telltale signs that Chiheb was planning an attack. I told him I didn't know when. I didn't know where but we wholeheartedly believe that this guy was here to hurt us. And based on what CSIS saw and heard that Labor Day weekend, they believed the threat was imminent.

NARRATOR: … And a larger conspiracy is exposed.

TAMER ELNOURY: There was an American sleeper cell, an American version of Chiheb within our borders, a better trained, more sophisticated version.

NARRATOR: I’m Sophia Di Martino. Join us next time for the conclusion to True Spies: American Radical.

Guest Bio

Tamer Elnoury is a 'legend' for an FBI agent who spent years working undercover to route out al-Qaeda terrorists in the US and Canada. He also worked internationally, gaining the trust of terrorists who dreamed of bringing America to its knees in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

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