2012-05-02 "Unmasked: Meet The FBI's Bridge Bomb Plot Snitch; Shaquille Azir, 39, indicted twice during cooperation"
MAY 2--The paid informant who helped orchestrate the FBI sting that resulted in the arrest of five anarchists for allegedly plotting to blow up an Ohio bridge is a convicted felon who was arrested on bad check and theft charges in the midst of his cooperation with federal investigators, The Smoking Gun has learned.
Shaquille Azir, 39, was named in a pair of felony indictments filed in January in Cuyahoga County, according to court records. Azir, who TSG has identified as the informant in the federal bombing case, is accused in the indictments of passing bad checks on July 25, 2011 and December 22, 2011.
Azir, pictured in the mug shot at right, “has been working as a source for the FBI since July 20, 2011,” according to the U.S. District Court complaint filed yesterday against the alleged bomb plotters. Wearing a body recorder, Azir captured the five self-styled anarchists plotting to use C-4 explosive to take down a Cleveland-area bridge.
Azir arranged for the purchase of the C-4 from an undercover FBI agent. He also fronted the alleged conspirators money for the buy of the material, which had been rendered inert by federal investigators. If the bombing case goes to trial, defense lawyers will certainly portray the 6’ 5”, 350-pound Azir as the plot’s instigator, a snitch who pocketed the FBI’s money to help entrap the five defendants, who range in age from 20 to 35.
An e-mail sent to his Azir's Yahoo account received no response, and a phone number that he recently used when registering a web domain was answered by a man who said he had never heard of Azir. In a recent court filing, he listed a home address in Maple Heights, a suburban Cleveland city.
Azir’s most recent--and ongoing--brushes with the law are not disclosed in the federal complaint, which provides a brief description of the criminal past of the “Confidential Human Source,” or “CHS,” who was instrumental in helping the FBI put together the bombing case (and who has “provided information and intelligence that have led to the opening of several additional investigations”).
The FBI source--who has been paid “$5750 for services and $550 for expenses”--has prior convictions for cocaine possession (1990), robbery (1991), and four convictions for passing bad checks between 1991 and 2011, according to the bombing complaint. No mention is made, however, of Azir’s two pending criminal cases.
Additionally, the FBI somehow failed to mention a variety of other convictions--grand theft, tampering with records, aggravated theft--on the rap sheet of Azir, who was formerly known as Kelvin Jackson and has recently worked as a landlord and building contractor.
Some of the accused bomb plotters apparently worked on buildings owned by Azir, who told members of the group that he wanted to keep the C-4 “in one of his properties so that they do not have to involve anyone else in the plan.” Two days before the bridge bombing was to occur, one of the alleged plotters, Connor Stevens, decided that he wanted to bail from the conspiracy, according to the federal complaint. However, the 20-year-old Stevens “still wanted to work on CHS’ houses,” reported FBI Agent Ryan Taylor.
Azir’s first indictment this year came on January 12, when he was charged with knowingly passing a bad check for $1471.87 to a home décor company. On January 24, he was named in a second felony indictment accusing him of defrauding a Cleveland-based credit union through the issuance of a bum check for $2165. The two cases have been consolidated and Azir is next due in court on May 10.
Azir is also facing a probation violation hearing in Lorain County, where he has been convicted of passing bad checks. That hearing, which has been postponed several times during the course of his FBI cooperation, is now scheduled for May 14.
Ohio records show that Azir spent nearly three years in state prison for robbery and possession of stolen property before being paroled in January 1995. He returned to the state system for six months in 2009 following a bad check conviction in Cuyahoga County. Azir’s most recent conviction came last November for grand theft and passing bad checks. He was sentenced to 18 months probation.
The federal complaint filed against the alleged bridge plotters notes that the FBI’s “Confidential Human Source” has not been paid by the bureau “since beginning his/her probation.” The FBI probe of the five anarchists began after agents directed Azir to attend an October 21 Occupy Wall Street rally in Cleveland.
The agents mobilized Azir after receiving “an initial report of potential criminal activity and threats involving anarchists who would be attending” the “Occupy” event. While at the rally, Azir met Douglas Wright, 26, who reportedly confided details of planned attacks “against corporate America and the financial system.” Through Wright, Azir subsequently met (and secretly recorded) the other four men named in the bombing complaint.
Along with his frequent appearances in Ohio criminal courthouses, Azir has been somewhat of a regular in the federal bankruptcy court in Cleveland, where he has filed nine separate bankruptcy petitions over the past 12 years. While seven of the cases were dismissed, two resulted in the discharge of six-figure debts piled up by Azir.
According to his LinkedIn page, Azir has owned the Desdy Property Group since late-2001, and has recently attended Baldwin-Wallace College, where he was studying for a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. He also reported previously attending Lorain County Community College and Cuyahoga Community College, where, in 2007, he was “President Elect Student Government.” The Desdy firm has been certified by the City of Cleveland as a minority business enterprise--through March 2013--in the areas of "Community Development & Business consulting," according to an online municipal registry.
While a review of Facebook pages reveals a nexus between the five alleged wannabe bombers, Azir’s name does not appear on any of their respective lists of friends. He did, however, once maintain a MySpace account which noted that he was on the social networking site to “meet new people. I don’t have time for games…so if your childish stay where you are.” A photo of Azir from his MySpace page is seen above.
Describing himself as a single “Proud Parent,” Azir listed Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Russell Simmons as the people he would like to meet. His TV favorites were listed as ESPN, MTV Jams, and HBO’s “The Wire.” (4 pages)