The FBI has intensified its pursuit of "home-grown" terrorists, allegedly foiling scores of plots around the United States since 9/11 terrorist attacks in America. The question now being increasingly asked is: Would there be many such terror plots to foil without government informants used to create them?
It is believed that foreign-born nationals are easy to recruit as FBI's confidential informats (CIs). If they get reported for any reason by any one and found to have any immigration issues, the police can threaten them with deportation. "You become a CI and you won't be deported, and you might even get paid tens of thousands of dollars if you help catch terrorists", they are told. It's a method the police in the United States have used for decades, according to a piece by Lorraine Adams and Ayesha Nasir published by London's Guardian newspaper.
Targeting of mosques by FBI informants has become quite common in New York and elsewhere in America since the weakening of court protections like the 1985 Handschu v Special Services Division decree that prohibited unfettered police monitoring of religious or political groups. In 2002, when NYPD's Adam Cohen was revamping the intelligence division, the police department sought a weakening of the Handschu decree from federal judge Charles S. Haight Jr who originally issued it, paving the way for the surveillance of Muslims. They won it in 2003.
In the Guardian story, Lorrain Adams and Ayesha Nasir discuss the case of Matin Siraj, a Pakistani-American convicted of terror in 2004. The FBI informant in the case, an Egyptian nuclear engineer named Osama Eldawoody, had been drawn in because he'd run a number of failed businesses out of his apartment, prompting neighbours to call police. The government paid Eldawoody's expenses, as well as $94,000 for his work as an informant on the case. Here's an excerpt from it:
The undercover officer in Siraj's case was a native of Bangladesh who used the pseudonym Kamil Pasha. "He's recruited in the classic NYPD way," Stolar says. "They troll the police academy to find someone who fits the targeted group. They started doing this with the Black Panther party back in the 60s. So they get someone who's, number one, young and number two, not known on the street. And they say. 'We promise you a gold shield, a detective's shield, if you do this.'"
The cop and the CI (Eldawoody) had no knowledge of each other. In July 2003 they began visiting the bookstore where Siraj was working. Eldawoody, 50 at the time, was old enough to be Siraj's father; Pasha, at 23, was more of a buddy. In 72 visits with Siraj, he was able to cull what the jury considered "radical statements", such as Siraj praising Osama Bin Laden as "a talented brother and a great planner".
None of Pasha and Siraj's conversations were tape-recorded and Eldawoody only began recording their encounters after he'd been meeting with Siraj for nine months. It's hard, therefore, to gauge what role the two men played in the conversation about the planned bomb attack.
In April 2004 the images of torture from Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad surfaced. When Siraj saw the image of the hooded Iraqi prisoner, attached to wires, standing on a box, he became hysterical. "Turn it off, Mommy! Turn it off," Siraj shrieked at her. Trial testimony showed that Eldawoody gave him photographs of a Muslim girl being raped by a dog. He is soon discussing the placement of the bomb with Siraj and his co-defendant, a 21-year-old schizophrenic Egyptian who turned state's evidence in the case. Siraj, in this recording, says, "No killing. Only economic problems." He explains: "If somebody dies, then the blame will come on me. Allah doesn't see those situations as accidents." In earlier audio recordings, however, he has said, "I want at least 1,000 to 2,000 to die in one day."
Recently, the FBI arrested the 19-year-old Somali-American Osman Mohamud in Oregon minutes before the annual holiday tree-lighting in Portland's downtown Pioneer Courthouse Square. This case is similar to other recent cases targeting young impressionable Muslim men by undercover F.B.I. agents or paid informers playing the role of terrorists and, as in this case, suggesting terror plots, selecting targets, and supplying fake explosives.
For those who believe that the young Muslims targeted by the FBI for entrapment are pre-disposed to committing violence and therefore fundamentaly different from other law-abiding citizens, I would respectfully suggest a quick review of the findings of Milgram experiements conducted at Yale University in the 1960s that showed how good, honest and decent people can be manipulated by authority figures to do terrible things that they would not ordinarily imagine doing.
As Stanley Milgram also found, there are some exceptions, however, to obedience to authority to inflict harm. When a minority of people are suficiently suspicious of such manipulation by overzealous FBI informants as was the case with an FBI informer in Southern California's Orange County, they refuse to cooperate. Recently, an FBI informant Craig Monteilh sent to infiltrate a California mosque was issued a restraining order after scaring Muslim worshippers with demands for jihad against Americ. He was known to members of the Irvine Islamic Center as Farouk al-Aziz, an apparently devout and at times over-zealous Muslim. But when he began speaking of jihad and plans to blow up, he was reported to the police by community members, according to a report in the Daily Mail. Monteilh, a petty criminal with forgery convictions, claims he received $177,000 tax free in 15 months for his work as an FBI informant.
Here's an RTV video clip on the case of Farooq Ahmed, a Pakistani-American arrested on terror charges in Virginia:
Here are the key points in the above video:
1. It talks about "the Newark Four". These are 4 poor African-American Muslims with neither passports nor driving licenses who had absolutely no capability to commit the crimes they were alleged of and convicted of. The FBI informant Shahid Husain, a Pakistani immigrant, was reportedly paid $100,000 by the FBI for entrapping them. Shahid Husain then became the key prosecution witness in their trial.
2. The FBI agents provided these men fake explosives and a fake Stinger missile and encouraged them to use these on targets selected by them. The 4 were promised cash and cars in exchange by the FBI.
3. It questions whether there would be any of these alleged "terrorists plots" to foil without government informants creating them by using informants.
4. Former FBI agent James Weddick argues that, instead of actively going after the real terrorists who are still out there, FBI is wasting its resources by relying on individuals to make up crime.
6. The reporter in the video says that the kind of entrapment tactics being used by the FBI would be unacceptable any where in Europe.
5. An attorney Steve Dowds shows a big 10 ft wide wall of names of people, mostly Muslims, entrapped by FBI and accuses it of "planting ideology" and providing the details of plots and resources to them before grabbing them and calling them "homegrown" terrorists".
A study by New York University's Center on Law and Security, which tracks terrorism cases, found that of 156 prosecutions in what it identified as the most significant 50 cases since Sept 2001, informers were relied on in 97 of them, or 62 percent. In the current environment of fear of Islamic terrorism in the United States, the entrapment defense has often been raised in jury trials, but it has not so far been successful in producing any acquittal in a post-Sept. 11 terrorism trial, the study found.
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