Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Entrapment Dividend: Setting A Few Knuckleheads Up, And Knocking The Rest Of Us Down

U.S. Lawmakers Take Aim

According to Catherine Herridge of FOX News:

U.S. Lawmakers Take Aim at Homegrown Terrorist Threat
Many Americans believe that the threat of homegrown terrorism is gravest in Europe, but according to the U.S. government, in the last 18 months more than a half-dozen plots were thwarted right here at home.

That's what they say. But what really happened? How much do we know about the homegrown terrorist threat in America?

Catherine Herridge chooses a couple of the FBI's most visible recent successes to illustrate her point.
Three young Ohioans were convicted in June on terrorism charges after officials gathered evidence against them that included suicide bomb belts filled with ball bearings.

Mohammed Amawi, Marwan el-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum were part of a terror cell in Toledo that wanted to launch attacks against U.S. troops overseas — made all the easier by their status as Americans.
Several questions arise here, among them: How did these three men get radicalized?

We might also ask how dangerous a belt full of ball-bearings would have been in the absence of any explosives. And we might follow up that question by asking why anyone with no bombs would ever make such a belt.

We might also ask why a group of men in Ohio found it necessary to contemplate attacking American troops overseas. If they were really driven by anti-American sentiment, surely they could have found suitable targets at home. No?

And what exactly is the status of American troops overseas? Are they legitimately considered as targets of terrorism? Isn't terrorism a strategy which attacks innocent people in order to induce fear in the general population?

Attacking American troops overseas is a matter of national self-defense, or at least that's how it seems to the citizens of occupied countries. And what are American troops doing overseas in the first place, if not occupying foreign countries?

If foreign troops were occupying America, would attacks against them be rightfully considered terrorism?

FOX News wants no part of any of these questions. Instead Catherine Herridge turns to Andrew Cochran of the Counterterrorism blog, which describes itself as
a unique, multi-expert blog dedicated to providing a one-stop gateway to the counterterrorism community
and which takes itself seriously, to say the least:
We envision the blog’s audience to be the policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch, as well as serious students elsewhere...
No kidding. This blog is so serious that it's currently in the middle of a series about how al Qaeda has taken root in Gaza. But I digress.

Here's Catherine Herridge again:
"Being an American gives you a passport around the world," said Andrew Cochran, chairman of the Counterterrorism Foundation and editor of the Counterterrorism blog. "These again are instances of homegrowns who take it to the limit. ... These people wanted to go all the way to Iraq."
This case shows one of the distinguishing features of homegrown terrorism in the United States: a total mismatch between aspirations and capabilities. Three guys who couldn't manage daily life in Toledo were going to travel to Iraq -- to attack American troops! Sure, they were!!

Fortunately for our story, which would be far too ludicrous otherwise, not all homegrown terrorists want to "take it to the limit" -- and "go all the way to Iraq". As Catherine Herridge points out,
Other homegrown terrorists have planned attacks on the homefront. Derrick Shareef, then just 22, was inspired by a violent Islamist ideology to plan a grenade attack against a shopping mall in Rockford, Ill. He eventually pleaded guilty to terror charges.
This is quite true, and I have covered Derrick Shareef's story extensively on these pages -- in a somewhat less strident, but nonetheless extremely serious way. I also note without pleasure that -- with one notable exception -- Derrick Shareef's story has received no critical attention from so-called "professional" journalists.

But ... We Know!

Because the Toledo terror cell was tried in open court, and because a key figure in Derrick Shareef's case also testified in open court (in connection with another case), we know quite a lot about the two homegrown terror cases which illustrate the point of this FOX News article.

In both cases the major radicalizing force has been identified, though never officially acknowledged. This institutional sleight-of-hand has led to an astounding opportunity for those within the federal government who are working hard to curtail your freedom.

On their behalf, Catherine Herridge alleges without any hint of evidence:
The Internet is fast becoming the dominant tool for the training and recruitment of terrorists.
She then continues as if she had identified websites that enable the violent radicalization of homegrown terrorists:
Some lawmakers are attempting to shut down such sites and those with the most extreme propaganda tapes, often made by Al Qaeda's media arm, As-Sahab.
What does she mean by "such sites"? There's no indication in the article. Could she be referring to unnamed websites that promote Islamic extremism? And if so, what does that mean? There are those who believe the government may be interested in shutting down any website that doesn't present a Pentagon-approved view of the news of the day. Since the Pentagon lies about everything all the time, and the mainstream media go along with it almost every time, the internet -- for all its warts and sinkholes -- is the last bastion of truth, and they would love to see it shrivel away and die.

The bipartisan American foreign-and-domestic policy establishment is running an agenda so thoroughly evil that it cannot be spoken of openly and truthfully, and that's why the internet -- with its amateur truth-seekers and dedicated debunkers of official nonsense -- is portrayed as "very dangerous" to the "cream" that rises to the "top" of the military-industrial-media complex.

The "Danger" Inherent In The Internet

I don't view the internet as "dangerous" to the military-industrial-media complex, let alone "very dangerous". I see it primarily as a black hole into which much useful energy disappears every day. But on the other hand, it is the world's largest "free speech zone", and that's why any professional military organization -- perfectly aligned against the truth, trained to seek out every potential enemy and destroy it -- would tend to see it as more dangerous than it really is. In any case, dangerous or not, the Internet is now a target.
"I am continuing to work to try to bring down the terrorist Web sites on the Internet," [disgraced former Democratic Senator Joe] Lieberman said. "I think the critical role… [is] reaching out to try to stop the problem in local areas before it starts."
This preemptive approach -- "stopping" the "problem" before it "starts" -- is a foolproof recipe to "justify" meddling in anything at all, doing whatever is "necessary" to solve "problems" which don't even exist!

Yet this is exactly what federal authorities are doing.

And it's only costing us billions of dollars and our most treasured civil rights.

Catherine Herridge notes:
The shutting down of certain Web sites is a prospect some critics are dreading.
And -- great big surprise! -- she finds an Arabic defender of the Constitution to give voice to that dread:
"We have a First Amendment and we champion the Constitution, and so in no way, shape or form should we engage in censorship of the internet," said Kareem Shora, national executive director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
The "journalistic" device we see here is quite despicable (though fully predictable) in that it gives anti-American wingnuts the opportunity to pretend that only Arabs and Muslims support the First Amendment. From there, it's an easy step to pretend that only terrorist sympathizers support the Rule of Law.

In reality -- but not on FOX -- patriots of all ethnic and religious backgrounds support the Constitution and all its amendments, particularly the Bill of Rights. But many others -- including the current administration and nearly everyone in the national media, especially FOX "News" -- take a different view: that the truth is dangerous, that the people are dangerous, and that sooner or later all of them -- the truth and the people -- will have to be destroyed.

Catherine Herridge goes on to portray an open internet as a very dangerous place indeed:
Ultimately, experts say, the Web will replace traditional terrorist training with cyber training, making it easier to recruit homegrown terrorists.

"It's not a substitute for physical field training, but it can come close to creating situations on how to train for an urban attack, a mall attack," Cochran said. "It's somewhat like what some of the 9/11 hijackers used in flight simulation software."

Beyond Ridiculous

This claim is beyond ridiculous, of course, in many ways. Terrorists training online for a mall attack? Sure! Why not terrorists going online to train for swimming to Iraq and killing American troops there?

And meanwhile: How many terrorists per year does the American government train? Count all the terrorist groups our government openly supports, such as the Special Forces. Count all terrorist groups doing clandestine operations on behalf of our government as well. But don't forget the "students" we train at schools for torture, like the infamous School of the Americas. And don't forget terrorist training at the most basic level: boot camp.

Quite apart from the numbers, American-trained terrorists are far more capable than anyone trained on a website.

And "our" terrorists are never short of resources: they are armed and equipped, fed and sheltered, moved around the world like "dumb, stupid animals" (in Henry Kissinger's notorious phrase) by the psychopathic elite they worship (and which includes Kissinger himself).

Talk about radical extremists! But I digress. Catherine Herridge continues:
According to experts, young, middle-class American Muslims are most at risk — men who don't know a lot about their religion and in an effort to educate themselves fall victim to an extreme ideology.
Herridge doesn't identify her experts, but this part of her claim is partially kind of almost true, at least somewhat.

Young, middle-class American Muslims are most at risk because they are the group being most aggressively infiltrated by violent radicals; and those who don't know much about their religion are especially vulnerable, because they're not secure enough in their beliefs to tell the violent radicals to get lost!

And, as Catherine Herridge notes,
American Muslim groups say that formula amounts to racial profiling.
Unfortunately, it does. And there's a reason for that: because it is. Furthermore, racial profiling is not only offensive to many innocent people; it's also very inefficient at detecting the dangerous elements among us.
"Giving parameters as far as race, religious views or age groups really misses the point. We should be much more sophisticated in the way we approach threats against our country," Shora said.
And that's quite true, or at least it would be, if our government were really interested in shutting down terrorism. But it isn't -- not much. It's quite a bit more interested in fomenting terrorism and using it as a political weapon. And that's why it's utterly misleading to say, as Catherine Herridge does, that
U.S. lawmakers also are looking at ways of addressing the root causes of homegrown terrorism.
Among the many problems with this claim, perhaps the most important is that it describes a question posed in a vacuum.

A Nation Of Vicious Idiots In Denial

The people who have the most trouble understanding the root causes of terrorism -- homegrown or otherwise -- deny in absolute terms that it has anything at all to do with America's foreign policy. To hear them tell the tale, it's all about "ideology".

So they write and talk and rant and rave about the "primitive" and "perverse" "radical" "violent" "hateful" "ideology" of Islam, because of which -- according to them -- people are taught to regard human life as having no value, and so on. But at the same time they deny the obvious and horrible fact that their country has deliberately killed millions and millions of innocent people, in Muslim countries and elsewhere around the world, in overt wars and convert invasions that were demonstrably carried out under false pretexts -- and continued at huge human expense long after the falsehoods were exposed to the world.

In addition to the millions of innocent people killed for lies, American troops and undercover operatives (and non-Americans hired, trained, fed and clothed, motivated and transported by American government officials) have maimed millions more, captured and tortured hundreds of thousands, and turned many millions of other innocent people into homeless refugees.

What Do We Think?

In the wake of these state-sponsored atrocities, what do we think goes on in the minds of the survivors? Do we imagine that none of them are consumed with rage over what we have done to them? Do we imagine that none of them are smart enough to figure out who did it?

YES! That's what we think. Some of us think so. Maybe most of us think so.

Barack Obama thinks so -- or at least he says so! In his supposedly brilliant speech about race in America and how it's not really an issue anymore (for light brown rich guys who have white relatives and attended elite law schools), Obama declared that "the conflicts in the Middle East" are "rooted primarily" -- not in any nation's actions or policies -- especially those of Israel -- but in "the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."

It's a simple solution to a complicated problem, but it's utterly useless, because it achieves its simplicity by ignoring an ocean of historical fact.

In the cesspool that's sometimes referred to as the "right" side of the blogosphere, Obama's analysis was echoed at the Doctor Bulldog and Ronin blog by Ronin, who wrote:
Hundreds of millions of muslims have conducted jihad for centuries not a single one of them ever logged online. They came from all types of races, cultures, sects of islam and they had only a single common denominator-the koran.
Ronin's solution to the terror problem is equally straight-forward:
Read the koran, understand it, outlaw it, seize them and destroy them. Problem solved.
One might wonder about the "hundreds of millions of Muslims" who have been waging their jihad for all these centuries and why so few of them have found their way into reputable history books. Invisible Muslims? Invisible jihad? Errr...

One might also wonder how anyone could possibly think that these "perverse and hateful" people would all stop attacking us if we would only seize and destroy the one book they consider Holy.

But please let's not get hung up on such irrelevant questions.

Many more penetrating questions remain to be asked, such as: What do we know about the three-man Terror Cell from Toledo? And what do we know about the lone-wolf Mall Bomber from Rockford?

The Toledo Terror Cell

The terror cell from Toledo, the group that included Mohammed Amawi, Marwan el-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum [L-R in photo], had another member whose name doesn't appear in the FOX News report quoted above, probably because he wasn't convicted along with the others.

But he was the ringleader. His name was Darren Griffin and he was the one who brought the others together.

Why wasn't he convicted? Why wasn't he even charged? Because he was working for the FBI. That's why.

According to an AP report published in the International Herald Tribune,
Griffin testified that he won the trust of the men by posing as a disgruntled soldier who converted to Islam. He secretly recorded his conversations with them for about two years until they were arrested in 2006.

At one point, Griffin told an FBI agent that he would meet with the men and "get them together to train," according to a transcript of the conversation.
Apparently, the jury didn't care how or why the "terror cell" had been brought together, or whose idea it was. Obviously, the jury didn't care whether the "terrorists" were actually planning to commit an act of terrorism or whether they were merely humoring a bizarre "friend" about his a crazy plan to attack an impossible target.

The jury also didn't care, apparently, that "investigators arrested them even though they found no guns, explosives or targets."

Instead, they paid attention to the recordings. FBI investigators, sifting through two years of recordings secretly made by Darren Griffin, pieced together a narrative that made it seem as if the three convicted "terrorists" were actually guilty of making this "terror cell" happen, and that the fourth one -- the ringleader, the planner, the FBI asset -- was entirely innocent.

It's not the first or only time something like this has happened.

The Rockford Mall Bomber

Derrick Shareef [left], the so-called "CherryVale Mall Bomber" form Rockford, Illinois, is sometimes referred to as a "lone wolf", but he wasn't plotting alone -- not by any means. Shareef was "helped along" by Jameel Chrisman [below, right], if you don't care what you say; you'd say "pushed along" if you wanted to be more accurate.

It was Chrisman who suggested attacking the CherryVale Mall; he also suggested the date of the attack (the last Friday before Christmas, 2006); and he suggested the weapons to be used (hand grenades). Shareef and Chrisman cased the mall twice, having driven there in Chrisman's car, and it was Chrisman who set up a bogus "arms deal" in which Derrick Shareef thought he was going to obtain grenades.

The "arms deal" was suspicious enough to alarm anyone not suffering from terminal stupidity: Shareef was to receive four hand grenades, a handgun and some ammunition, in exchange for a pair of stereo speakers.

But Shareef didn't suspect a thing, and the grenades were nonfunctional, and the ammo was blanks, and as soon as Shareef took possession of the "weapons" and placed them in the trunk of Chrisman's car, he was arrested by FBI agents, who had been watching the entire bogus transaction.

What happened? Derrick Shareef had been deceived. Jameel Chrisman, like Darren Griffin, had been working for the FBI. Chrisman had been sent to Rockford to meet Shareef, to "befriend" him, and to lead him across an invisible line. And Chrisman, who had performed similar services for the FBI in the past, was wonderfully effective.

When Chrisman arrived in Rockford, Shareef was working in a video store. Chrisman went there to meet him, introduced himself as a fellow Muslim, and found out it was his lucky day: Shareef was homeless and preparing to move in with the store manager. So Chrisman offered Shareef a place to live -- with his three wives and nine children.

Within hours Shareef was moving into the home the FBI had bought for Chrisman. The two "new friends" lived together for several months before Chrisman arranged the bogus arms deal that led to Shareef's arrest; in that time Chrisman recorded every conversation he and Shareef had. The FBI produced a selection of snippets edited from these hundreds of hours of recordings, a selection chosen to show Shareef in the worst possible light, while hiding as much as possible Chrisman's role as a provocateur.

But it was a dismal failure. The affidavit filed by the FBI in this case clearly shows Chrisman leading -- every step of the way.

Rolling Stone and "The Fear Factory"

Rolling Stone featured the Shareef / Chrisman story in an article by Guy Lawson called "The Fear Factory", which pulled too many punches for my liking, but also broke some new ground.

Guy Lawson spoke with agents of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) who explained how the feds were working hard to market their "counter-terrorism" program in the face of opposition from local police chiefs who see people getting killed all the time due to gang warfare and other gun-related violence (to name just a few problems) and who see "terrorism" more as a threat to their already limited budgets than to their continued existence.

As Lawson wrote:
There is considerable skepticism in local police departments in northern Illinois about the nature and extent of the threat posed by terrorism. There are 415 local law-enforcement agencies in the district, many of which remain unconvinced that the threat is as dire as the JTTF maintains. Many departments refuse to allocate even one or two officers to spend four hours on basic terror training. Rather than consider the idea that the cops closest to the ground might have a better perspective on their communities, the JTTF addressed the problem by forming a TLOC —Terrorism Liaison Officer's Committee. The point is to merchandise the menace of terrorism to the police.

"It's a matter of marketing strategy," says Mark Lundgren, a special agent who oversees the TLOC. "These terrorism acts are trending toward the homegrown, self-activated, self-radicalized — the sort of thing that could literally pop up in your back yard. The typical things we would use to detect terrorism don't work, because these people are off the charts, so to speak. Nine times out of ten, for the next decade, it's going to be the local cop who stops the terror attacks."

Lundgren, who resembles a young Gary Busey, fairly glistens with certainty about the value of his work. "What are you trying to sell to the local police departments?" I ask.

"Awareness. Motivation," he says. "It's a very hard sell. You walk into a chief of police in a crime-ridden district. The first thing he's going to tell you is, 'The guys in this area are killing people. The guys you're telling me about —it's not make-believe, I understand that — but they haven't killed anyone lately in my district.' "

"Or ever," I say.

Lawson's article drew a fiery response from the FBI. The FBI's piece, written by Assistant Director John Miller, claimed that Lawson had ignored facts that didn't support his pre-ordained conclusion. Unfortunately for John Miller, this is an unsupportable claim. Guy Lawson's conclusion springs naturally from the information readily available in the public record; his own research clearly confirms what astute observers had already deduced.

But John Miller clearly doesn't care about any of that; he's telling the story the way he wants it told. He shows his disdain for the truth in many places, but never more brazenly than in the following passage:
At any point during his planning process, Mr. Shareef could have stopped his actions, but he chose not to. There is no evidence that he ever wavered in his desire to murder holiday shoppers in the CherryVale Mall that day. Would he have succeeded had it not been for the diligence of the JTTF?
In point of fact, it was Chrisman who was unwavering, while Shareef hesitated. It was Chrisman who wanted to murder holiday shoppers; Shareef himself didn't want to murder anyone. Shareef was talking about vandalizing a courthouse in the middle of the night when nobody was around. He certainly didn't see himself as a killer -- let alone a suicide bomber! The idea of attacking shoppers, the idea of attacking just before the holiday, the idea of using hand grenades, the idea of murdering innocent people -- these ideas all sprang from the fertile imagination of William "Jameel" Chrisman, an FBI asset, an entrapment specialist, and a good one.

Shareef was being manipulated by a professional; and if he had balked, he might have found himself homeless; at the very least he would have been endlessly humiliated with respect to the "fellow Muslim" who had offered him a home.

And John Miller has the shameless gall to ask, "Would he have succeeded had it not been for the diligence of the JTTF?"

Clearly the question is meant as rhetorical, and the expected answer is "Maybe". But in reality the question is answerable, and the answer is an unqualified "NO."

Derrick Shareef wouldn't have been trying to get grenades; he wouldn't have been trying to attack CherryVale Mall; he wouldn't have been trying to kill anyone at all, had it not been for the "diligence" of the JTTF!

If it shocks or even surprises you to see an Assistant Director of a national security agency lying in such a despicable fashion, you haven't been paying attention. That's how they do it nowadays. It would be shocking if he stood up and told the truth.

And in any case, John Miller's obfuscation is the least of our problems. But it does fit in with some other basic truths about which the FBI feels distinctly uncomfortable. As the Texan blog Grits For Breakfast reported, the FBI won't assure Congress it doesn't tolerate 'serious violent felonies' by informants. Makes you feel a bit safer, doesn't it?

Federal Legislation To Enable The Study [sic] Of Violent Radicalization And Homegrown Terrorism

In "response" to the "threat" posed by "homegrown terrorists" such as "The Toledo Terror Cell" and "The Rockford Mall Bomber", Congress has been working on an act which will grant enormous funding and vast police powers to a government which is already overloaded with both; in addition it will create an "academic center" for the "study" of "violent radicalization".

In truth, this "research center" will be a vast data repository, where the feds will store every available tidbit about every available warm body, then use still-to-be-discovered data mining techniques to wring every possible political advantage from the terabytes of personal data the center is designed to house.

It won't be a proper study of violent radicalization, nor will it provide anything resembling an accurate view of homegrown terrorism, for two main reasons. First, as mentioned above, America's military role in destroying much of the rest of the world is off-limits for such a study; in the official US government narrative, from which none may depart, Muslims are radicalized by violent and perverse ideologies alone.

Furthermore, the role of the government-funded agents provocateur is always scrubbed from the official tales of these homegrown terrorists, forcing professional liars like John Miller and bottom-feeding pseudo-journalists like Catherine Herridge to resort to sheer pretense. Thus they pretend that these "violent radicals" -- the "mall bombers" and "terror cells" of modern America -- are "radicalized" by the internet. What else can they do? They can't admit that the government itself has "radicalized" a handful of gullible chumps through a series of face-to-face confrontations with deliberate lying instigators. Nor can they admit that these instigators are working hand-in-glove with the FBI, in an effort to draw unsuspecting chumps into legal nightmares. So instead they pretend they've busted real terrorists. They pretend the agents provocateur didn't exist. They pretend that we're utterly, helplessly, hopelessly, stupid. And in many cases we are. But not always.

Earlier this year, Mother Jones published a piece called "Don't Even Think About It", which was aptly subtitled: The war against "homegrown terrorism" is on. Enter the thought police.

In that article, James Ridgeway and Jean Casella wrote:
Largely ignored by the mainstream candidates—as well as the mainstream media—are the latest efforts to bring the fear home by targeting "homegrown terrorism"—another new catchphrase. Only liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich and libertarian Republican Ron Paul have warned that in the name of stopping domestic terrorist plots before they happen, Congress is in the midst of passing legislation aimed not at actual hate crimes or even terrorist conspiracies, but at talking, Web surfing, or even thinking about jihadism or other "extremist belief systems." Last October, a piece of legislation called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 sailed through the House with near-universal bipartisan support; it is likely to reach the floor of the Senate early this year and appears certain to be signed into law.

The legislation would create a National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism composed of 10 members whose vaguely defined job would be to "examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence," and to "build upon and bring together the work of other entities" including various federal, state, and local agencies, academics, and foreign governments. The commission is charged with issuing a report after 18 months. It also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to set up a center to study "violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism" at a U.S. university, and to "conduct a survey" of what other countries are doing to prevent homegrown terrorism.

The bill raises the potential for government encroachments on civil rights in part through the way it defines some basic terms. The text of the bill says that "the term 'violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." It gives no clue as to what would qualify, under this law, as an "extremist belief system," leaving this open to broad interpretation according to the prevailing political winds.

In addition, simply by designating the "process of adopting or promoting" belief systems as a target for government concern or control, the bill moves into dangerous territory. The director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, Caroline Fredrickson, said in a statement on the bill, "Law enforcement should focus on action, not thought. We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme."

What the Homegrown Terrorism bill does is bring back into the equation not just violent actions, and not just violent plots, but the words and ideas that may (or may not) inspire or encourage them somewhere down the road. It moves toward designating people as terrorists based not on what they do, but on what they say and what they think.
And all of this is allegedly necessary to study what causes violent radicalization. Hah!

We could do better with a complete study of violent radicalization through entrapment; from the limited amount of reliable published material, we know a fair bit about how and when it works, and how and when it doesn't.

When Entrapment Works, It's Ugly ...

From the available evidence we can conclude that Chrisman's entrapment of Shareef was guaranteed when Shareef agreed to move in with Chrisman and his very unconventional family. Shareef's dependence on Chrisman -- for something as essential as shelter -- was a very powerful weapon working constantly in Chrisman's favor.

Not all entrapment is done in-house, of course, and not all of it is done by the FBI, either. In New York City, Shahawar Matin Siraj [left] was entrapped by a specialist named Osama Eldawoody [below, right], who was working for the NYPD.

Eldawoody ingratiated himself to his intended target by offering him rides across the city. The FBI asset would often drive Siraj home from work, and along the way he would "teach" him about radical Islam.

Siraj and his family had come to America from Pakistan, where they were persecuted for being "too secular" -- i.e. not sufficiently radical. Siraj was working in his father's bookstore when Eldawoody walked in; according to his family, Siraj had never had a violent thought in his head until Osama Eldawoody started planting "perverse and hateful ideologies" there. Eventually Siraj came to see Eldawoody as a mentor, a father-figure. And Eldawoody took full advantage, playing the gullible Siraj like a toy fiddle.

The NYPD arrested Siraj in August of 2004, just before the Republican National Convention opened there, and accused him of plotting to bomb a subway station. Ever since, he's been known as "The Subway Bomber", even though he didn't have a bomb, didn't have access to one, didn't know how to make one, and had no interest in bombing anybody.

In recordings played during Siraj's trial, Eldawoody prompts Siraj (and co-conspirator, and mental patient, James Elshafay) to talk about bombing a subway station. Siraj doesn't like the idea much; he says he'll have to ask his mother! Does this sound like a committed suicide bomber to you? Nevertheless, the jury convicted Siraj, and the NYPD put Eldawoody on the payroll: he now receives $3200 per month for "services rendered" in an arrangement likely to be "permanent".

In a bizarre coda, after Siraj was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the "conspiracy", his parents cried "entrapment" and the whole family was promptly arrested. A little truth goes a long way, and the NYPD were not having any of it. Siraj's mother and sister have been released on bail; to the best of my knowledge his father is still incarcerated.

... And When It Doesn't Work, It's Still Ugly

The question of dependency is crucial, and it was grievously overlooked in the southern California case of Craig Monteilh.
On the first Friday of each month, Mohammed Elsisy, an Egyptian-born software engineer, usually drives from his home in Irvine, Calif., to the King Fahad mosque in Culver City, Calif., to deliver the khutba, or sermon.

Elsisy thought the first Friday of this past June would be no different.

But little did he know something totally unexpected was about to happen that would make this particular Friday the most memorable for years to come.

Elsisy had two passengers in his car at the time.

In the back seat sat Ahmed Niazi, 33, a language teacher and a friend, while in the passenger seat sat a man who converted to Islam almost a year ago.

The man was 44-year-old Craig Monteilh, but he went by the name "Farouk Aziz."

"Monteilh started talking about the Iraq war," Niazi said. "He went off on a rant against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East."

But then, out of the blue, Monteilh said something that sent chills down the spines of his companions.

He asked Elsisy and Niazi if they knew of an "operation" he could be part of.

Pin-drop silence followed. Elsisy’s eyes bounced over to the rearview mirror and traded a horrified glance with Niazi.

"Blood froze up in our veins," Elsisy recalls.
Monteilh had violated one of the essential rules of successful entrapment stingers: he hadn't created any dependencies. He wasn't even driving the car.

In one of the most laughable details of this particular sad story, Monteilh had apparently followed his handler's instructions to the letter, and the instruction manual had obviosly told the stinger to spend a year getting to know the target.
Exactly a year earlier, Monteilh had walked into the Islamic Center of Irvine and declared his intention to embrace Islam.

Issa Edah-Tally, president of the center, said Monteilh, known only as Farouk then, was just another convert among many who took Shahada, or declaration of faith, at the center and became regulars at the mosque.

"We don’t ask people for their real names and don’t keep track of who attends prayer service," Edah-Tally said.

Monteilh started attending regularly and enrolled in the weekly adult Arabic class taught by Niazi.

"Farouk told me his real name was Frederick Jordon," Niazi recalled. Monteilh also told Niazi that he was of French and Moroccan descent.

However, when Monteilh joined the Berlitz Language Institute’s Costa Mesa branch – where Niazi works – to learn Arabic, he filled out a form and wrote his name as Craig Monteilh.

"I don’t know why he lied about his real name," Niazi said. "And I don’t know why he chose to write down his real name knowing I worked at the Berlitz."
Monteilh wasn't the slickest entrapment artist ever, was he? But still ...
A few months after his conversion, Monteilh was able to make several friends at the mosque. Some recalled how he often went on anti-American tirades, blasting U.S. foreign policy and decrying the suffering of Muslims throughout the world.

But then he started talking about something else.

Ashruf Zied, a software engineer from Irvine, Calif., said Monteilh approached him one day claiming to have access to weapons and asking if he wanted to join him in "waging jihad."

Zied was floored. "I was completely taken aback by what he said," Zied said. "I said, hold it there. What are you talking about?"

Zied said he tried to give Monteilh advice, but found him argumentative and set in his ways.

As his call for armed war became more aggressive, some frightened worshippers stopped attending the prayers altogether.

Elsisy, Niazi and Zied were shocked to find out [...] that Monteilh had a criminal record.

Monteilh had told the three he worked as a fitness trainer and was a former pastor.

However, a routine search on the Internet revealed that Monteilh had an extensive criminal record dating as far back as 1987.

The charges included the following: separate charges of grand theft in 1987, 2002 and 2003; burglary in 2002 and forgery in 2003.
That's not the way it's supposed to work, of course. The supposedly freshly converted Muslim is supposed to hide his criminal record (like Chrisman, a convicted felon, hid his history from Derrick Shareef). And he's supposed to find dim-witted Muslims who will depend on him and ride around in his car (like Chrisman and Eldawoody did), not software engineers who drive their own cars.

Why is is all this entrapment going on? In the absence of unvarnished truth from our national media or from the Assistant Director of the FBI, we may never know for sure, but we can certainly make reasonable deductions from the available facts.

The immediate objective of all this entrapment is clearly to find gullible Muslim knuckleheads and draw them into making rash statements, posing for martyrdom videos, and doing other stupid things to incriminate themselves: thus we have one chump trading speakers for nonfunctional weapons in Rockford, and three others stuffing ball bearings into inert "suicide belts" in Toledo.

This would be almost funny, except ...

Important Aspects Overlooked

Some of the most important aspects of this story are the most overlooked.

It's bad enough that a law "enforcement" service should use criminal informants whose illegal conduct is then protected, as if these lying rats were somehow above the law.

It's bad enough that the gullible young fools who are entrapped by these informants are doomed to spend the rest of their lives in prison.

But the larger ramifications of this multi-layered farce are much more disturbing.

The barrage of news stories about how we are constantly under threat from the "violent radical Muslims" who walk among us is not only palpably false but also feeds directly into the false "justification" for our wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and perhaps in Iran next -- in which we have already killed more than a million completely innocent people.

Furthermore, the fear generated by these not-quite-legitimate terrorists has almost led us to the point of voluntarily accepting a police state. But not quite.

Implementing Legislation That Hasn't Even Been Passed

The "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" has not yet been passed. It's been approved by the House but it's still in committee in the Senate. However, despite this seemingly vital impediment, some portions of the bill are already being implemented -- just as if it had been passed and signed into law!

[Thanks to Laurie Dobson for this video. If you live in Maine, you ought to vote for an independent Senate candidate who stands for Peace and Sanity (and you only have one to choose from). And if you don't live there, you should still support her, in my cold and humble opinion. This has been a public service announcement.]

In Short

The threat of homegrown terrorism is now so grave that we must take extraordinary action to protect ourselves.

This grave threat is personified by the Toledo Terror Cell and the Rockford Mall Bomber, who are presented to the nation by the likes of FOX News and the Counterterrorism blog as the face of the homegrown terror threat. They are portrayed as such for a reason: they are the most visible "successes" of the FBI and its JTTFs. However:

Both of these cases were the work of admitted agents provocateur. In both cases the agents provocateur were entrapment specialists working for the FBI. In neither case -- according to the government -- was the public in any danger.

But the threat posed by these terrorists and others of their ilk is so serious that we must shred some of our remaining civil liberties in order to protect ourselves, even though they are now in prison for having taken part in the plotting of crimes they never could have accomplished, and never would have thought of on their own.

The shredding of our civil liberties to protect ourselves against this threat is so righteous and so vital to our continued existence that it has been started even before the legislation enabling it has been passed.

Does that make sense to you? It makes perfect sense to me!

We are now so far through the looking glass, most of us can't even remember when we fell in.

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