Listen to a Secret Tape of FBI Agents Interviewing—and Threatening—a Potential Informant

Plus, read a transcript of the surreal conversation.

On Thursday, Mother Jones broke the story of Naji Mansour, an American living abroad who refused to become a government informant—and saw his life, and his family’s, turned upside-down. After he rebuffed the government’s advances, Mansour was banned from returning to his family’s home in Kenya, locked up for 37 days in a squalid prison in South Sudan, and eventually found himself living in Khartoum, where two FBI agents he had met before, Mike Jones and Peter Smith (pseudonyms we created at the FBI’s request), tried again to win his trust. Mansour recorded the conversation, which you can listen to above; a full transcript follows below.

MJ: Mike Jones, an FBI agent

NM: Naji Mansour, an American living abroad

PS: Peter Smith, a second FBI agent

MJ: Sorry about that.

NM: No problem

MJ: You’re still up here right?

NM: Excuse me?

MJ: You’re still up in Khartoum, right?

NM: Yeah, yeah. No, that other thing I was meant to go to Juba, but I kinda put it back for a few days, um, some other stuff that I have to finish up before I go, like I told you.

MJ: Okay. Can we sit down on Wednesday?

NM: Well that’s the thing—did you read the email that I sent you?

MJ: I did, yeah. Yeah.

NM: Um, I mean, I have a lot of questions. And…

MJ: Well, that would probably be the best time to, you know, ask em.

NM: Well, basically, before that, because I wanted to, how can I tell you? Um, there’s some family of mine who’s advised me that it’s not a good idea. Ah, to meet with you, or to openly meet with you. Um, you know, in Kartoum. And that kind of ties in with some of the questions I had to ask you. And I was hoping…

MJ: The one thing I can, the one thing I can tell you though, it wouldn’t, we’d probably have to… we’d have to do it at the embassy, so, you know, it wouldn’t be like we’re doing it in public, you know. And I hope I didn’t put you in a bad position yesterday. The reason, I saw you in the club room yesterday, and I wasn’t going to try to slink, you know, slink around you obviously. Um, you know, and hope that you didn’t see me, because I, you know, wanted to talk to you, and you know what better place than seeing you. It was, you know, kind of fortuitous. But, um, we have to do it here. So, you know, you’d be nothing more than an American citizen coming to visit the embassy.

NM: Right. Right. But you see, the thing is that, okay, when I got out, yeah?

MJ: Yeah.

NM: First of all, I had a lot of time to think inside, you know? I think I told you, I’m kind of slow. But then I get things after a while. And, and I just, I couldn’t understand why I was in, and even I told the guys when the would ask me, ah, they would ask me, “well what are you going to do when you get out?” I’d say, “I’m gonna find out how the hell I ended up in here. And, that’s what I did. And a lot of my family was trying to help me out, so when they found out, my family up here in the north, they found out that I that was inside, and basically, I got some disturbing news, and kind of, it’s kind of in sync—well, not in sync but, I don’t know—this is something that I would wish, that I would hope that you can clarify for me, before we meet, if we meet, because if I do meet with you, it’s going to be kinda in direct violation of the family’s wishes, and up here that’s a big thing. You know what I mean?

MJ: I understand.

NM: So, very quickly, or just basically to just throw it on the table, I was told that the ah, quote unquote Americans had something to do with it—to do with me being inside.  You know?

MJ: Absolutely not true. 100% not true.

NM: But [Mike], I mean, but but, I also want to put some other things into perspective.

MJ: Yeah?

NM: I want to put some other things into perspective too, because people who told my people, that were people very senior in Khartoum government, very senior in the government in Jouba, yeah, and then as well, I’m like, okay, first of all: here’s my wife, coming to visit me. You know what I’m saying. I hadn’t seen her in a couple months. Um, she was just coming up for a visit, and for me to do some business stuff that I wanted to discuss with her. And then all of a sudden, these guys, intelligence guys show up at my door, and drag us both me and my wife, you know, to that place. And I’m like, “Oh my God.” I was really freaked out. I mean I was really, I didn’t know what they were going to do. They were even yanking, like, my wife’s scarf off her head, as they were marching her into the cell. And there was nothing I could do. I was in the cell.

MJ: Naji, let me just say this, and I understand that you were freaked out. We were freaked out see-, hearing that it happened. We had 100 percent nothing to do with that. And I’ll tell you we would never advocate, you know, something like that happening to an American. So, I can tell you that we had absolutely nothing to do with that.

NM: Then, with your information that you have, since you have a relationship with the Kenyans, what was going on? Why would they want to put pressure on me when there’s nothing that they can do with me in Sudan? You know what I’m saying?

MJ: Naji, I mean, you know the Kenyans. And that’s all I can say, at least on the phone right now. But you know how they operate. They don’t operate like we do. And they don’t necessarily operate as closely with us as you would, you know, as you would think. As some people there might think. Um, They don’t work necessarily at our behest and do what we tell them to do. Or do what we tell em to do, or what we don’t tell them to do. So, and I, I can just say, right now on the phone, we have absolutely nothing to do with it. Absolutely nothing. It runs counter to everything that we do and that we stand for.

NM: Okay, that’s another thing—and I hope that you don’t mind me being very honest. This is the American in me, and I love this part of me. I love the blunt, upfront honest part of me. Because, you know, like you know, I do a lot of research. I’ve done a lot of research about terrorism, about jihad, about a lot of this stuff, and I follow a lot of documentaries, news and everything like this, and obviously we all know that, you know, the CIA, the FBI, is capable of doing this and has done this—maybe not with Americans, but with other people. You know what I’m saying?

MJ: But we haven’t. Can I tell ya, I mean, I work for, you know, the bureau, and we haven’t done that. And, so we haven’t done that, okay? I just want to, want to also make that clear. As I said also, you’re an American citizen, but a lot of those things that you’ve heard about, I’ll tell you we’ve never done.

NM: All right. Like I said. A lot of it is documentaries, and a lot of it I’ve also on another side, is stuff that people have told me, or family that, information that my family has gotten from people who may know how quote unquote the Americans, whatever, operate. So, that was one issue, and it seemed like, you know, when I heard that thing I kind of didn’t want to hear that, I didn’t want to think that that may be the case. But listen to this. When I got an email, I got an email from Jeff, Jeff Roberts, about a week or two before all of this happened, just confirming if I was still there, number one. Whether that was a setup or whatever, or you’re telling me it’s not, but I’m giving you all of the points, that I’ve experienced in my head, or that I’ve experienced all the recollections that I’ve had that kind of like paint this picture, yeah, again, the Kenyans, why would they do that, what’s their objective? And also, another crazy thing and I thought about this later, and I understood, I understood in a way where you’re coming from, but this, when you told me that, you guys can advocate on my behalf, to get me back into Kenya, but…

MJ:  I just want to be clear, I just want to be clear about one thing. I mean, that’s, that’s something completely down the line, you know. That’s not something directly we can or can’t influence, but, but go ahead.

NM: No but basically, whether that was the case or not, or when, or how, or whatever. It’s just that, [Mike], you know, you came to me, and obviously I’m in a compromising situation and and you’re talking about quid pro quo and it’s like, well, if I didn’t do anything than why do I have to, why, why do I have to dance to go back home? You know what I’m saying? And I do consider Kenya as one of my homes. So, I didn’t understand, that looked like duress. Like an indirect kind of duress. Do you know what I’m saying? Do you see the picture that I’m painting?

MJ: Yeah, it wasn’t meant to be at all, it was just, I mean basically, but, we’ve always said that’s secondary, but and that’s why, I mean we wanted to see you when we were down there, especially given, you know, what had happened. But it was the wrong–You know, we didn’t want to go into too many details, and it wasn’t the right place to do it. Like I said, that was absolutely not meant to be like that. I mean, you know that the issue with the Kenyans, right now, is that, I know you consider it your home, and obviously your wife is Kenyan, your kids are Kenyan, but unfortunately the Kenyans don’t see it that way. And you know, by their, according to them at least, you’re in a compromising position, and unfortunately, you know, despite the fact that in many ways you are, you’re as Kenyan as many Kenyans living there, because they do have so many people who have, you know, who live there from other countries…

NM: Right.

MJ: They still don’t, they don’t view you as such. I mean, you said it yourself, in the inter-, in the first time we talked, um, ah, that they treat Kenyans differently than they treat non-Kenyans.

NM: Yeah. Yeah but the initial point that I was trying to get across was that, I mean, it’s like, you’re telling me I need to help you out before you can try and help me out, and the thing is why, why? I mean I thought I had been helping. I though I’d been really really up front. And it’s been to my detriment, and then I’m getting that it’s like, a deal, whatever, or an offer, what have you. And I’m like, well, what the hell did I do? Know what I’m saying? Can’t you help me out anyway, you know?

MJ: First of all, what I’ll say is, that you know, we as people who work for the entity that myself and [Peter] do, that’s really outside of our lane, that’s more of a state issue.

NM: Mhm.

MJ: But from our perspective, I mean, whether you’ve done anything or not, if you had some access, let’s just say, to something, not even that, or we were able to get you some, and this is why, you know, the phone is probably not the best, but, you know, maybe, maybe we could do something on your behalf. But this is, these are details for the future, and you know, I’d rather not talk about them right now. I’m, like I said, you know, and I’d rather not talk, just in general, on the phone, we don’t, we usually like to just talk to people face to face. Um, you know, you will be at the embassy. There will be you know state department people, you know, personnel here, um, but, like I said, I’d rather not go into too much, just talk too much over the phone.

NM: Yeah. No, I understand. Although I–

MJ: I hope you can appreciate the reasons why I’d rather not have the conversation over the phone.

NM: Well, yeah, I understand it would be a deep conversation and what have you, but to be honest with you, in light of what I’ve just mentioned, and by the way there’s more—there’s a few more issue that I’m like, you know, “what the hell,” you know—but in light of what I’ve just mentioned, I have to, you know, my heart is basically not at ease right now. That was a very, I don’t know if you noticed but I lost like mad weight, I was, I came out of there looking like I’d been, in some kind of concentration camp or something. I was, I lost a lot of weight, and ah, just the whole experience, especially with my wife being in there as well, was crazy. And now, let me just, if you will, because I don’t want to even take a lot of your time, or spend a lot of your credits or whatever, but…

MJ: Hey, no no Naji, the credits, it’s not the time, there’s just another, you know, it’s just, things like this, are probably best not spoken about over the phone. Listen, if you have a lot of questions, you know, I think it really, my opinion is it would be best if we talked face to face. Um, you know, you’d be an American citizen coming, coming to the embassy, air out all the concerns you have with us, and you know, we’ll talk about them. And we may have some answers for you.

NM: In regards to what I just asked?

MJ: Yeah. And, you know, like I told you, I mean, with the first thing, about you being there, there was no involvement on our part. That, in fact we were against you being there, it ran counter to everything that we do, that we stand for, and you know.

NM: You know what else I was told? I was told don’t leave Sudan, after I was left. After I left. Don’t leave Sudan, the Americans they catch you outside of Sudan, they’re going to arrest you.

MJ: Well that’s absolutely, that’s absolutely untrue.

NM: But you can see why I’m kinda, like, flipping out here. Wondering what to do.

MJ: Hey, I think people, all I’m gonna say is, I think people well meaning but not knowing, what we do, truly what we do, what we stand for, um, are giving you some advice, and I don’t think it’s the right advice. Um, like I said, there’ll be people, from State here, but, you know, that’s absolutely not true.

NM: Well, then, then if that’s the case, then, and I hope that would be the case, honestly, um, honestly I don’t see why I should continue meeting you, you know? On this level, is what I’m saying. On this level.

MJ: This will be the last… what do you mean on this level, like on what level?

NM: Well, I’m not talking, I mean, unfortunately I haven’t sat with you, you know, on a level of just socializing and what have you, but I’m saying, on this level of whatever transpired in Kenya and whatnot. I mean, I don’t see how, this has brought me nothing but issues. And like you said before, in the email, there was an issue with, for example, Jeff Roberts’ email being in my inbox. And basically, by the way, and as I recalled after told me about that, I recalled something, they were very interested in that, you know. And they were even asking me dates and times and I was like, I can’t recall exact dates but, it makes me look like, you know, I’m in cohorts whatever with you guys. And that is not a, let me tell you something, I told you I went through this about three years ago. The most completely baseless bullshit from young guys, or Muslims, and dower activities in Kenya, and there was nothing. It was baseless. People wanted to investigate me, whoever they were. They investigate me and find that I have no affiliations or associations with anybody. But now, here I am, if I continue and keep continuing to like. even if it’s just this one more time, to meet with you, then it’s, there’s a reason for someone to say, well, what were you doing with those guys, you know? For example, I mean this is hard to, this is not exactly an American friendly place, all around, you know what I mean.

MJ: But we do have an embassy here.

NM: Yeah, I’m talking about in general, the people, and what have you, and even­–

MJ: That’s what I’m saying—and that’s why, I mean, there’s no, listen, I’d like to sit with you over coffee, or in a much more relaxed setting. Unfortunately, because of what you’re saying, we can’t do that, for your reasons and for our reasons. We can’t do that. And, you know, we, the first time we talked to you, back in Nairobi, when Jeff was there.

NM: Yeah.

MJ: We did it in a fairly relaxed setting. The second time was at the airport, and then the next time I saw you was in, um, the next time I saw you was in, ah, down south.

NM: Right.

MJ: We’d just like to speak with you again. You can clear up some things. Hopefully we can clear up some things, and it’ll be over with. But you know, you have questions, we do have a couple of questions, but hopefully we can clear it up and this will be the end of it. We can do it at the embassy where there’ll be, where you have every right to be, um, as an American citizen, and that’s what this will be the end of it. I don’t know if I can tell you anything more, um, like I said, over the phone, because, just for various reasons, Naji, we don’t like to speak over the phone, especially when we’re not, when you know, we’re outside of the country. Um, but, hopefully this will be the end of it, it should be the end of it, but, you know, obviously I can’t make you come down, this is purely of your own volition, of your own free will. But, you know, like I said there are some questions, and you know, your side on, from you and from me, and we sit down one more time, like I said, we met once, but since that time, every subsequent meeting has been in a different position…

NM: Drama

MJ: Yeah, it’s been drama. It’s surrounded by drama. And, here there would be none.

NM: Okay. I understand that. But, please, one last, just, and I don’t want to prolong this, but…

MJ: No, no, no, no, that’s fine.

NM: But just, understand where I’m coming from one more time. I, I, here I am, yeah? Um, like you said, yeah? The Kenyans do not have, they have an issue with me, for whatever reason. My associations, my affiliations, from a long time back. Not even groups, just people that I know. Maybe a few of thousands of people that I’ve met in my 11-12 years whatever in Kenya. Now, now if they don’t want me to go back to Kenya, then, I mean, I’m not going to go and beg, number one. Number two, you know, you ask me about certain people. And, you know, fine. I know them, and what have you. They’re like family. Some of them are like family to me. You know what I’m saying. Although we don’t necessarily socialize and this kinds of things. But they’re, technically they are family. Technically. Cause I’m married into them. Now, you know, the only, and I don’t think that this is anything deep, so I’m just going to say it, the only, looking at it from both perspectives. Looking at it from my perspective, looking at it from your perspective. Your perspective is like you want me to get, you may or may not want me to get close to that family, or give you more information and what have you. You want to ask me more questions. But the thing is, seriously? I believe I’ve answered everything, and more, and I tried to, I really tried to jog my brain five weeks and, you know, five weeks in a dark dungeon to try to see what else that I can give. But seriously there’s nothing, there’s nothing else that I can give. And I don’t want any more problems for myself and my family. You know what I mean?

MJ: Believe me, I, dude, I understand. And, but, like I said. We meet once, in a setting that’s not like the last few times. It’s not like the airport, it’s not like down south. We meet once, and we get it over with, once and for all. You get all your questions out, we get all our questions out. And, you know what, hopefully the next time we see each other, Insha’Allah, it’s you know, we either randomly bump into each other, or it’s, you know, or it’s over coffee. So- but, you know, I think one more time, we clear things up, and it’s done with.

NM: What’s, what’s going to be involved? If I agree, what’s going to be involved?

MJ: It would be you coming down here, and we’ll make the arrangements for that. You coming down here, and we sit down for a little while, and we talk. And that’s it.

NM: What, me, you, and [Peter]? Or…

MJ: [Peter], yeah, [Peter]’s here.

NM: Just me you and [Peter].

MJ: Yeah. And you know, if you want anyone from, you know, the State Department present, you’re welcome. That’s fine.

NM: What do you mean? Like some consular?

MJ: Yeah, you could do that. Or Jeff’s, Jeff’s equivalent. But that’s up to you. And I assure you, Jeff, Jeff works for, Jeff, works for who we’re saying he works for, not who they say he works for.  That was…

NM: Hmm. Well, yeah.

MJ: That was, and I’ll tell you part of it, on both sides of that border, it was, and this is just my opinion, looking at it from what happened—it was a bunch of really, what I would say are, not professionals, in any sense of the word in anything.

NM: Definitely.

MJ: Thinking that they were professional—on both sides of that issue, on both sides of the border. So, I mean, I’d just say, it was, it was Keystone Cop-like, and it was you know, obviously more than embarrassing because of what the situation that you were put in.

NM: Right. All right. I agree with you, 100% there. Cause, I dunno. The way they were behaving was exactly what you were saying, Keystone Cops.

MJ: You know, we, we wanted to talk, we said hey, can we talk with him alone, he’s an American. We’re Americans. They would not let us. Um, you know, can we have more time with him? No. And, so, just, what we wanted to try to hash out then, and you know let people like Janet, you remember her?

NM: Yeah, Janet, yeah.

MJ: You know, argue on your behalf. From there, you know, get these issues resolved, have them argue on your behalf, and get, try to get things over and done. They would not budge. You know, they, it was a very uncomfortable environment for us. You know, before we even got in to sit with you. So that’s, that’s all I can tell ya. I mean, uh, you know. Having that happen to you. Like– you know, I wanted to come, like I said, speak to you one more time, five months ago. And then having that happen to you completely destroyed any chance of us going forward and going our separate ways because you were put in that position. By them. And so, that’s, that’s basically all I can say, but you know, I mean, if we talk to ya, it’s got to be here just because you know, because of the place we’re in, this is the, that’s the only place where we can talk. And…

NM: I would be more safer you know, I would feel more safe, you know, at the Rotana, than I would going to talk with you there. You know what I’m saying? Because of the place that we’re in.

MJ: Can I tell you, but can I say something to you? Unfortunately that’s, we can’t. We’re not allowed to. And, you know, it’s just, we would rather do it there. But if, let’s say we were in the States, we could do it there. But we’re not allowed to, because of where we are. That’s… that’s why.

NM: Where do I stand with you, [Mike]? As far as, not you, you, but as far as whatever you’re doing? Where do, I mean, where do I stand? If I don’t, I’m trying to do a cost benefit analysis here, and for me, I see it as very risky. I see it as going against my family’s will, if they were to find out. And, trust me, [inaudible] family, these guys have people everywhere. You know, they see me walking into an embassy, and they’ll be like what are you doing? I can’t even walk down the street without people asking me, where are you going? And I’m 33 years old, and the father of four. That’s just the culture. And it seems like they get to know what happens when. And I don’t think that, and they’re like the BBC, CNN, Sky, they’re all related. They broadcast news here. This is the thing of having a big family, which I’m not used to. Cause I’ve also, I’m more, I guess, American on that side of, I haven’t, not too close to my extended family. Now I see myself as out of Kenya, and good riddance, as far as I’m concerned. Because whoever for them to do that to my wife [inaudible], I don’t see that as a place that’s safe for myself and perhaps for my family and what have you. So, I feel as if okay, that’s out of my head, I don’t have to, that’s out of my hair, I don’t have to go back.


MJ: Naji!

NM: Yeah.

MJ: We just got disconnected.

NM: Basically I was asking you if I could be forward or upfront.

MJ: Yeah.

NM: And that’s probably the last thing that I, you know, I mean, I’ve been, I’ve been offered to participate, you know, from the Kenyans, from you guys, from the southern Sudanese. But I’m not interested. And I don’t think, I don’t think that, you know, if I draw the line there, that, personally I just don’t see where there’s, how there’s any way that we can go further, and I understand what you just said about protocol, or what have you, about having to do this at the embassy. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea. My people don’t think it’s a good idea that I even talk with you. And I don’t think that if they knew, they would be even an issue, to be honest with you. And when I mean to talk to you, I mean talk with this branch, of what’s going on. And I don’t know, [Mike], that’s…

MJ: Well… I mean, first of all, and I’ve tried to reassure you Naji, there is noth-, it’s if you were to come here and talk to us, you are 100 percent definitely gonna leave and go home wherever you’re staying.

NM: Of course.

MJ: We’re not, I mean, nothing like that’s going to happen if that’s what your fear is.

NM: No no no. It’s not that. It’s to be ostracized again. I don’t believe, there’s already a lot of pressure, and I’m not, I’m not, there’s a lot of pressure around the world. People disappearing. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. But there’s a lot of like, there’s a pressure on the other side. I don’t want to be ostracized from this community.  You know. Already I’m an American I’m a Muslim, I’m going to the mosque. I don’t need to, you know, I’m going back to the mosque now, I don’t need that pressure. Like, hey man, I saw this guy somewhere. And you know, he was going to, and even though I could say oh, hey I was just going to get more pages in my passport. Or I was just going to apply for whatever. But…

MJ: I mean, sooner or later you’re going to probably end up coming to the embassy for something. You know, but, I understand your concern, but you know, like I said, if you want to, if we do want to get it over with, I can, you know, that’s the only way I can really say it. We’ll just you know, speak. I’ll say what I have to say, you say what you have to say and move on. And just, you know, and it’ll be the end of it. Just out of curiosity, Naji can I ask just what your mom advised against, advised of?

NM: I don’t even talk to my mom anymore. My mom is a basket case. You know, she’s so, and especially…She went to the States recently, she got pulled aside, put into secondary, her wallet was taken away from her, her phones. You know, I don’t even, I haven’t, I mean, okay I did confess to her after we saw you yesterday that I, yeah, I’ve been hearing from [Mike], and everything like this. But I’m not telling her details, I’m not telling her anything. She’s, she’s just a basket case. And she’s been also told the same thing. By my family and other people she knows, her own contacts. That, um, that the quote unquote Americans had something to do with this. So, I don’t know. You know? I know how it is down here, and you can’t really trust but, oh, by the way, [Mike]?

MJ: Yeah?

NM: That came from different sources. Not even remotely connected. By the way.

MJ: Okay, but, and I can tell you the sources that told you this are mistaken. I can, I can see how they’re telling you that, because, for whatever reason, they’re looking for some simple answer for it. But it was not. And you know, it was 100% not us, we had nothing to do with it, whatsoever. And I can’t– You know, it just, runs 100%, 180 degrees counter to what we, to what we do, to what we want to achieve, what we stand for. So I can’t, you know I can’t say it any simpler than that. Um, you know, we thought it was unfortunate. Not only unfortunate, we were against what they had done, but we, like I said, you have your questions, I have a few of mine. And you know, we move on. After that we say out goodbyes and go our separate ways, Naji. But, I think it’s best that we sit down and talk, you know. And I can’t say it any more plainly than that. I think we should sit down and talk. If you want to tell me, “[Mike], the hell with you.”


MJ: Hey Naji, I’m sorry. Hey, it’s me, it’s [Mike]. I’m sorry. I don’t know if it’s my phone or yours.

NM: No, no. This time it was my battery. So. I was trying to plug it in and then it already died.

MJ: You know, the one thing, I’ll just kind, wrap up with what, if I leave now, I mean, we’re still in the same status quo. I still have some questions I’m gonna ask you. And we haven’t moved on. You know, we sit down within the next couple of days. We talk for an hour, if that. I mean, I’m just budgeting an hour of time. But, you know, we talk, we say what we have to say. And we move on, and it’s over with. But, I think that there’s things, as I’ve said, that can be fixed with one more face to face discussion without, you know, without others present. And then we go on. But, Naji, if I leave, just nothing, we’re still left in the same place.

NM: Yeah, yeah. I understand. I don’t know.

MJ: You there?

NM: I don’t know. I, ah, I don’t know. I’m not really agreeable to it. To be honest with you.

MJ: I understand. But, like I said, if I leave, then nothing’s changed, and you know, and what could be taken care of in a short amount of time, and get, and maybe get some closure is now, is now, we’ve done away with that chance, and you know, and it’s still hanging.

NM: Yeah, but, but, it’ll always still be hanging. I mean, for me, I can’t go back to Kenya. I have to try and see what I can do over here, you know what I mean? Or wherever else. And it’s not really, it’s always, it’s just been one way, this whole time. The way I’ve seen it. And I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem. To be honest with you [Mike], I have no problems coming in, to talk with you guys one more time. I really don’t think, there’s nothing new or more I’ll be, you know, coming to the table with. But I have no problems. I have no qualms with the act of us sitting down and having a conversation. I am thinking about my family here. When I’m telling you this. I’m thinking about my, my immediate family, I’m thinking about my, the clan over here who’ve been very supportive of me and has helped a lot, and with the whole situation in Juba, so I don’t know. This is what–So I’m thinking of all those guys. I’m thinking of stability, normalacy [sic]. This is what I have on my head right now. So, it’s not, it’s not that I’m trying to be you know, as far as my concerns, all of the questions I just asked you, you know… Basically, I’ve heard one thing on one side, and I’ve heard something else from you. Okay, fine. Whatever. I don’t know who to believe—I don’t really care anymore. Right now I just want normalacy for my family. Cause I think they deserve it. Cause I haven’t– it’s been a screwed up year, let me tell you.

MJ: I’m sure it has. But, you know, I think if you want normalcy, and stability, the best way to do would be to just get these issues closed out.

NM: Yeah.

MJ: And that’s the only way I can say it. I mean, you know, for, since our first meeting I just wanted to talk with you again to clear a few things up and not because of what you’ve done, but because of what’s happened to you, we haven’t had the chance. But, you know, and things keep following you, and that’s why we sit down one more time, and then it’s over with.

NM: How? If we sit down, things will stop following me? I mean…

MJ: Well no. I’m just saying, things will­… And then it’s over with from our perspective. But you know, and I mean, no, listen, I know–I understand why your family doesn’t want you to do this. Or what they think. But, you know, they’re not, I just think we need to just sit down one more time and get closure from my end, from your end, and then it’s done. You know, we’ll always, if we don’t talk Naji, we’re always going to want to talk to you, just to get some closure on this. Um, I’m not going to force you. If we don’t talk it’ll probably be it, but on my end, there’s always going to be this we need to get closure on this, and the matter is still left open.

NM: You know, again, I understand that, and I empathize with you as you empathize with me. With me it’s, it’s that same issue. I don’t see, with me it’s like, I try to get closure with my girlfriend or ex-wife or something like this, but with somebody who I know I haven’t done anything wrong to, or haven’t done anything wrong in general, and I don’t see it as rewarding enough, so to speak, to risk my situation over here. You know what I’m saying? Maybe if I come back to the states, on one of my visits, or one of my travels, or whatever, then we can always do that, you know? Over here, I don’t know. I really, I really don’t know. And by the way, my people here, they don’t, they’re not like, anti-American. My people, my family, or anything like that. They’re not. They’re not at all. They’re just doing this for my security, for my safety. They know the ropes over here. You know. The people who have confided in the family, are people who know what’s going on in this city, who know what they’re saying. And.

MJ: When you say your safety, what, your security and your safety, what do they feel is the threat?

NM: Just to be ostracized. Just to, that will kill me! The way, basically, by the way, by the way, my business, my businesses were all killed in Nairobi—all of them. You know. Even [inaudible] I’ve just been surviving. My family has just been surviving. This whole time. All my businesses, including the business we had with the US embassy. You know? Which was a stupid, fixing couches and, curtains and contractor stuff, and you know. Even that was killed. Repeated emails. Nothing, nothing back. So I don’t want that to happen over here.  You know? Right now, I’ve just been, I’ve just been given a small little contract—somebody, I’m putting my research skills. You’d be proud of me, [Mike], I’m putting my research skills to good use, and not in, and not in that arena. I’m doing something more on a business level. And at least because of my, not that I think it’s that great, but my English speaking ability and my QA, or whatever I’m able to do as far as editing as concerned. I’m able to do something at least to put food on the table. And start over. And I don’t want that compromised in any way. I mean, whatever small thing that I’m doing, I don’t want it compromised. Not now. Not here. So, that’s, that’s where I’m coming from. And I’m telling you, [Mike], that’s straight up. Straight up from the heart. Real, and has nothing, it doesn’t reflect on what I think about you, or the agency, or anything. No! It has nothing to do with that. I have no qualms with sitting with you. I have no qualms. But, not here, not now. I can’t. I don’t think that it’s a good idea. At that place. Maybe, if it was, like I said, you know, at one of the hotels, where it would be, to be honest with you, it would be less, it would be more low profile. To be honest with you. The way I see it.

MJ: How about, how about this? Can I give you a call tomorrow, and look into some alternatives, maybe?

NM: Yeah, please. Please go ahead. I’ve, I’m all good with that.

MJ: Let me–let me do that. I don’t, I can’t say that there will be. But, let me, how about we just agree that we’ll talk tomorrow again.

NM: Yeah, that’s fine. That’s fine. Anytime. Anytime, [Mike].

MJ: Okay.

NM: You can call me anytime.

MJ: Okay, thanks Naj.

NM: Okay, take it easy man.

MJ: All right.

NM: Bye bye.

[End of first day’s phone calls]


NM: Yeah, I just buzzed you

MJ: Can you meet us at the, near the Pizza Connection?

NM: Um, it’s kinda not what I had in mind. I thought we were meeting in some place, public yet private.

MJ: Well we’ll pick you up there, and then we’ll go someplace from there.

NM: Which place is that?

MJ: Ah, I don’t know the place, because I’m not from here, but someone with us knows. It’s a relatively private but public place.

NM: Because, okay, first off, today is not looking good, but like I said, I’m going to see what I can do. Second, I’d probably be more comfortable meeting you directly, meeting you guys at whatever place.

MJ: Look…

NM: And if you guys are having a problem finding a place, I can even give you one place that I…

MJ: Well, Naji, I mean, we can meet you at the Pizza Connection. I mean, it’s important that we meet, and you know, I understand that you’re busy, but we’re busy too, and our window is very limited right now. And we really need to do it today.

NM: I told you [Mike] I’m down for it, but I told you [inaudible / crosstalk]…

MJ: Hold on one second. Just one second.  [Background talk, inaudible]. Yeah, if we don’t meet now, Naji, and I’ll just tell you, if we don’t meet now, we’re not going to be able to meet.

NM: Oh, for real?

MJ: And, we’ve been in contact with you for the last two, three days. You and I have been in email contact for the last couple of weeks. Um, so, we need to do it today. Sooner rather than later.

NM: Yeah, um, like I said, I’m trying to see what I can do. It’s only that I’ve been contracted to do some stuff, and…

MJ: I know, Naji–

NM: And my plate is getting piled on, you know what I mean?

MJ: You know, but our plates are full too. And we need to do this, and like I said, we need to do it sooner rather than later. We talked yesterday, we said about three o’clock. Um. You know, I reached out to you probably about one, didn’t hear back from you. So our plates are full too, and that’s why we need to do it at about, you know, probably should have met 15 minutes ago, but we really need to get this done, and we need to do it. Um, you know, I don’t know how else to put it to you. But, you know, as I said, there’s some scrutiny, and, you know, that’s not going to go away. [pause] Are you there?

NM: The meeting is for the scrutiny to go away, or is it…

MJ: No, I’m saying you’re talking about the scrutiny that’s on you, and you know that’s not going to go away when, if we can’t meet. I mean, like I said, we’ve been talking about it for three weeks, and then, once I get into country, and I call you up, and then you don’t want to meet, you can’t come to the embassy, you can’t do this, it’s gotta be in a public place.

NM: For good reason. All for good reason [Mike]. And by the way, you know, [Mike], you have to understand that this is Sudan. Everything is different here [crosstalk], do you know what I’m saying, I don’t have a 9-5, and I’m freelancing, and people expect me to get things done.

MJ: Naji, we’ve been in contact for three weeks. And, you’re freelancing, like I said, we’re busy too. I mean…

NM: I understand that, and I’m not coming down on you for being busy. Please don’t come down on me for being busy. You know what I’m saying, I’m just trying to do what I’m supposed to do.

MJ: But like I said, Naji, we need to do this. And we can meet you at the Pizza Connection, and then we can go someplace that’s a little bit more private, but still public.

NM: All right. Let me see what I can do, please.

NM: [inaudible]

MJ: Naji.

NM: [Mike], I wish I could explain it to you, I can’t drop what I’m doing.

MJ: I understand, but I mean we’ve been talking about this now for three days.

NM: We’ve been talking about it and I thought I was also very clear to say that I would see what I can do, [Mike]. You know what I’m saying?

MJ: Naji, you want resolution? Do you want resolution or do you not want resolution?

NM: Obviously I want resolution. Obviously. We all want resolution here.

MJ: Well. To me it doesn’t sound like that.

NM: [Mike], don’t judge me.

MJ: And I understand, and I understand you’re busy, and I understand, you know, your job situation. But, you know, we talked about it yesterday, we said three o’clock…

NM: You said you’d get back to me last night or this morning, and then you got back to me midday. And I can’t [crosstalk]

MJ: …said one o’clock. Naji, listen, I got back to you about noon or one o’clock, but I did say in the email, the text yesterday, three o’clock. Listen, like I said, if you want to meet, we can meet. Hold on one second. [background talk, inaudible].

MJ: As I said, Naji, you know, there’s scrutiny on you, and that’s not going to go away. There’s scrutiny on your mom, she’s a contractor with the embassy, that’s not going to go away unless we sit down and get down to business. You don’t want to come into the embassy, for good– you say for good reason, but meanwhile your mom is employed at the US consulate. So for you to say as an American, “I don’t want to go into the embassy to meet with you, and there’s a good reason for that.” It’s just, to us, it should have been done there. We did you a favor by agreeing to do it outside of the embassy, here, in this city. So, you know, Naji, there’s really just not more I can say right now.

NM: I’m even trying to decipher what you’re trying to say right now.

MJ: What I’m trying to say is, you don’t want to come into the embassy to do it. Fine. You know, I­– we said we’d do it outside of the embassy. This isn’t a, meeting hasn’t been a priority to you. In fact, you haven’t wanted to sit with us, since we’ve talked, since I’ve been back in country. Okay. You say you want to get things resolved. I say there’s scrutiny on you. There’s scrutiny on your mom. She’s employed by the consulate, and yet you don’t want, or she’s employed at the consulate, through a contractor, and you’re saying you don’t want to come to the embassy, and there’s a good reason for that. So I said meet us.

NM: Exactly. My position hasn’t changed. My position hasn’t changed. The scrutiny on my mother has nothing to do with anything, unless you you’re making a threat. And currently I told you the situation here, [Mike], that in this country I’m kind of like, have you heard of the expression that beggars are not choosers? I’m on contract. I’m on contract, so I’m not giving you any illegitimate excuse. While you’re here, I’ve bent over backwards. And I really don’t like your tone. I don’t like your tone, [Mike]. I don’t like your tone.

MJ: Naji–

NM: You have scrutiny on me for what? What do you have on me? You have nothing on me. I’ve done nothing. You cannot tell me…

MJ: Then let’s sit down and talk about it.

NM: I’m trying to work something out with you here, but you don’t understand my situation and you’re trying to push me into a corner. Make me feel bad about shit that I have no control over!

MJ: Naji, I’m trying to set up a meeting with you.


MJ: Naji, it’s [Mike].

NM: Yeah.

MJ: Listen, as I said, I highly suggest you make yourself available to us to talk. But I’m not going to beg, and that’s all I can say.

NM: [Mike], that’s fine. But you can’t order, and you can’t make threats as well.

MJ: I’ve not made a threat. I’ve not made a threat, I’ve just said…

NM: Telling me, telling me that my mother is under high scrutiny, I’m under high scrutiny, and you’re coming…

MJ: Naji, you are under scrutiny. I mean, you, yeah, we’ve been through this, I mean, before, a number of times. And, as I said, I highly suggest you meet with us. I wanted to do it at the embassy. That’s not, you’re not amenable to that. Okay.

NM: Yes.

MJ: We said be at, we said we’d do it in a public place, which we were not in favor of doing, and actually, do you know why we weren’t in favor of doing it? We weren’t in favor of doing it for your sake. Um, at least the embassy


To do that. But, I understand, you’ve got your business to worry about. But, our time window is so limited, that if we can’t do this, you’re going to lose the opportunity.

[background noise / talking?]

NM: Yeah, but I’m trying to work it out in my head, and I didn’t say that I didn’t want any opportunity, or didn’t say that I wanted to dismiss any opportunity. But what I told you was that there’s a little bit of a situation here. I’m at work, I have stuff to do, I’ve been given stuff to do. You kinda came at me last minute. You gave me an estimated time, but I understand, this is Sudan. Somebody gave me some stuff to do last minute after the meeting.

MJ: Naji, I didn’t give you an, I mean we talked, I mean, yes, it was an estimated time, but it wasn’t last minute. And I understand things come up. But you know, things come up for us too. And as I said, our window is limited.

NM: Did you not say that you were free today?

MJ: What’s that?

NM: Did you not say that? Did you not say that you were free today?

MJ: I did, and that’s why I suggested three o’clock.

NM: Right. The day is not over.

MJ: It’s three thir-, Naji the day is not over. But it’s 3:30 now, and we’ve got stuff to do. So, listen, as I said. We can make ourselves available to you. But we’ve got to do this soon. And, if not, then, you know…

NM: If not, then what, [Mike]?

MJ: If not then maybe we can’t do this at all. I, Naji, you know, like I said, we’ve been in contact for a couple of weeks now via email. I called you when I got into country. We set it up, last night, at a minimum I sent you a text about three o’clock. So, it’s 3:30 now. I understand I didn’t get back to you this morning. Um, we were tied up. But–

NM: All right, that’s fine. You know, I’m not going to crucify you cause you were tied up. Unlike–

MJ: Okay

NM: … the treatment that I’m getting. You know what I’m saying.

MJ: Naji, listen. Then we won’t do it, I mean at this point. Um, yep, here’s, you remember [Peter Smith]?

NM: Yes, I remember [Peter Smith].

MJ: Here, here he is. Maybe you guys can work something out. I can’t promise anything, but here he is.

PS: Hey Naji. I’m just going to get to the point, right here. Look, honestly for us, this is pretty much it. You know, I’m going to go home. I really don’t care. [Mike] is going to go back home. And what, what I really, and the one part of me that kinda feels a little bit guilty, is that one of these days, you know, whatever it is that you have or do not have going on this afternoon, you’re going to look back at this day and say, you know what, I should have frickin talked to these guys.  And, but that’s it. It’s a door, it’s closing, and it’s going away. When we leave. [Naji starts to say something] No no, listen to me now. Now let me finish. When we leave, when we leave here, and we’re gonna basically report, say, you know what, the guy dodged us. He kept giving excuses, you know whatever time, [Mike] didn’t call me at this time…

NM: Oh my God!

PS: No listen to me…

NM: But that’s not true!

PS: No, let me finish. A series of events is going to be put into motion. And once you put it into motion, and honestly I, I’m out of it. I honestly do not care. I’m going home, you know I got a vacation to plan, I got this [inaudible] other kinda stuff, my life goes on. Yours might change. And it’s not going, it might not be necessarily to your liking. But, this is what’s going on, but the whole dodging, you’re telling, oh, no, this time, that time, all that kind of stuff, frankly I don’t believe it. And again, I really don’t care. I’m getting ready to pack my bags and go. But when I go, when [Mike] goes, you know, that door closed on ya. A new chapter will open up for ya, and it’s going to be a new chapter of your life, but you’re going to remember that this was the day where I could walked through that door, and ya didn’t. But that’s all I’m going to say, and I’m going to give you back to [Mike], and…

NM: No wait, hold up [Peter], you can’t just…

PS: …and you guys can say nah nah nah nah…


NM: That’s a blatant threat, and you’re going to put in your report that I, how are you? [crosstalk] That I don’t have an excuse to come, when I’m trying to frickin accommodate.

PS: Dude, dude, dude, no let me tell ya, I was not born yesterday. I haven’t been doing this job since yesterday, okay? I know when somebody is yanking my chain. Okay? And I’m seeing…

NM: This ain’t the states! This ain’t the states!

PS: … a major chain yank. Okay, this is not the first time, believe me. I’ve dealt with guys who’ve done that, and all that kind of stuff, and I’ve just learned, you know I’ve got a callus built up. I walk away. And then, whatever happens then, honestly, all I know is I can sleep at night knowing that every opportunity was given, you know, the guy decided not. I’ve helped people out, on the opposite side, people have been helped out tremendously, and that’s something that I’m very proud of. People that were in deep shit, who are no longer in shit, and are living a good live, because I was there for them, and they took that door, they took the opportunity and walked through that door, man. And seriously, honestly, it’s the same thing that’s available to you. But again, you will remember this day, and you’re gonna say, “Shit, I shoulda talked to these guys. And I shouldn’t have been doing all excuses.” If you didn’t have any business going on today, or any kind of a things like that, you’re gonna find how minuscule and worthless it was compared to this fork in the road, that you’re about to take.

NM: What are you talking about? No, why don’t you come out and say it? Why’n’t you come out and say what fork in the road are you talking about?

PS: Dude, I honestly don’t care. I’m getting out of here. I don’t care. Okay? And, you know, when I tell somebody, hey, you know what, if you cross the street without looking you’re gonna get run over, that’s not a threat. You know, that’s advice. [crosstalk] You’re about to cross the street without looking both ways…

NM: No.

PS: And I’m telling you, you know what You might get hit by a car—that is not a threat. That is a solid piece of advice. But you don’t want to take it. But seriously I’m done, here’s [Mike].

NM: [Mike], do you know what Istikhara is? Do you know what Istikhara is? [Mike]?

MJ: What’s that?

NM: Do you know what Istikhara is?

MJ: Yeah.

NM: Yeah, I prayed Istikhara two days ago, and I’m so glad I did. And with a clean heart, I’m trying to accommodate this meeting. And this ain’t the states where you make appointments. This is Sudan time, Africa time, as you know. You’ve been doing your job, I’ve been doing mine, as a business development, and as a relationship guy in this area for a long time.

MJ: Naji–

NM: And I make my money because I know how these guys work and I have the patience to accommodate. Apparently you guys are coming and threatening me. And thank God, the Istikhara is opening its doors, it’s revealing itself to me. Because if you guys are going to come and make blatant threats against me, you guys can get written up for that. You know what I’m saying?

MJ: Naji. All we said is that one door opens– when one door open, a door may close.

NM: I know what you said. I know what you said. No, I know what you said. You made blatant threats. You made blatant threats. And I’m supposed to rely on you guys?

MJ: Naji…

NM: You guys are not gods. You know what I’m saying? And you can go and do what you want, do what you want to.

MJ: Naji. Naji… Call me back in 20 minutes if you’re still interested. But, okay, we’re gonna end this conversation now. If I hear from you in 20 minutes, you’re still interested. But if not, I think that’s it. [inaudible]


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Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

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