The undercover investigator credited with helping stop two would-be terrorists had sought to begin his New York PoliceDepartment career like nearly everyone else — as a rookie patrolman.

But when police officials learned he spoke Arabic and noticed his calm demeanor, they soon had other plans for him.

The recruit agreed to skip the police academy and enter a little-known NYPD counterterrorism program that grooms and deploys youngundercover officers to uncover potential plots — a job one likened to being a human surveillance camera.

Authorities hailed the undercover officer’s work following the arrest Saturday of terror suspects Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte as they prepared to fly from New York to Egypt and then to Somalia. The New Jersey men appeared briefly in federal court in Newark on Monday on charges they conspired to kill, maim and kidnap persons outside the United States by joining the Somali terror group al-Shabab.

Alessa, 20, and Almonte, 24, had no contact with Somali terrorists and had no specific terror plot, according to officials and court documents.

The undercover officer — while posing as a devout Muslim and circulating among other men with radical leanings in the New York City area — met the suspects in 2009 and won their trust, authorities said. He got close enough to them to secretly record their radical rants about fighting a holy war here and abroad.

“I leave this time. God willing, I never come back,” authorities say Alessa told the officer last year. “Only way I would come back here is if I was in the land of jihad and the leader ordered me to come back here and do something here. Ah, I love that.”

Police officials have said the undercover officer is in his 20s, is of Egyptian descent and joined the department about five years ago. He wore a beard and had a home in Jersey City, N.J., where he practiced hand-to-hand fighting tactics with the defendants, according to the criminal complaint against Alessa and Almonte.

Source: Tom Hays for Yahoo! News AP.

Up Next

U.S. soldier arrested in WikiLeaks case involving Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad.

The undercover investigator credited with helping stop two would-be terrorists had sought to begin…