SECRET agent breaks his cover for the first time to tell his story on US television. He wore prosthetics and his voice was altered to avoid being recognised.
Tamer El-Noury – one of the agent’s many false identities – spoke to Fox News about his covert attempts to gain the trust of those planning terror attacks.
El-Noury’s ‘target’ was a 32-year-old Tunisian, Chiheb Esseghaier, who the Canadian government suspected of being in ISIS.
And he was instrumental in foiling his plot to derail the New York City to Toronto train route four years ago.
He posed as a wealthy American of Arabic origin who held a deep personal grudge.
He spoke about travelling to New York with Esseghaier in 2013.
Reluctantly, unwilling to blow his cover, he took him to see Ground Zero.
He described the chilling moment Esseghaier put his arm around him, looked at the new World Trade Centre and said: “Tamer, this town needs another 9/11, and we’re gonna give it to them.”
He admitted it was the first moment he had a “physical reaction” to something a target said, and he “saw red” and worried he had blown his cover.
Esseghaier was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison in 2015 on the back of El- Noury’s investigation.
El-Noury spent years undercover after he was recruited by the FBI.
The son of Egyptian immigrants to the US, Elnoury joined the police in New Jersey, where he worked to break up drug distribution networks.
But he found he wanted to do more after the horrific events of 9/11, which he said affected him personally.
Adding: “I wanted to dedicate my career, to dedicate my life, to combating this evil”
He spoke of the difficulties of his line of work, how he avoids being photographed, and has a variety of disguises.
The long weeks spent with extremists, acting as confidant and close friend, “is the hardest part,” he said.
El-Noury added that he needed to know his backstory better than he knew himself as he could never be sure when he was being “vetted” by a target.
He also revealed that “our number one weapon is our mind and our mouths”, adding that newer recruits struggle with starting up conversations with people they don’t know as they are so used to texting.
He joked: “Smart phones make us a little dumber in that arena.”
When questioned he also categorically denied that his line of work involved entrapment.
He said that each ‘target’ has already been assessed as a threat before they were investigated; sending in an undercover operative is a last resort.
He has published a book about his work, saying he wants Americans to understand his work as a Muslim operative.
Speaking to BBC, he said: “The fact is that these jihadists – these radicals that are popping up – are lost souls.
“They latch on to hatred, and an evil that seems to give them purpose.”
“I am a Muslim and I am an American, and I am appalled at what these animals are doing to my country while desecrating my religion.”