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FBI Bust in New York: Is it counter terrorism or entrapment?

Anisa Abd el Fattah

As the United States carries out its war against terrorism, the domestic aspect of the war continues to be a source of controversy. Civil rights advocates are questioning FBI and local law enforcement tactics when it comes to fighting domestic terrorism. The controversy has grown even more intense after a white Christian anti-abortion activist murdered an abortion doctor in a church.  The activist had reportedly been arrested at least once for suspicion of plotting violence against an abortion clinic and was also supposedly under FBI investigation as a potential domestic terrorist. People are asking how this man, who was supposedly a known potential threat based on very real, and not circumstantial evidence, was free to roam the country and to apparently stalk and kill one of our country’s most noted late term abortionists George Tiller.

According to news reports, Tiller had been the victim of at least two attempts on his life, one resulting in two gun shot wounds to both of his arms. He was also subjected to repeated threats to his clinic and to his life that both the FBI and local law enforcement were aware of, yet the suspected killer in this case of domestic terrorism, remained free to carry out his alleged crime, and was not charged with terrorism.
By contrast, several African American men, one a paranoid schizophrenic, another mildly retarded and another drug addict addicted to crack cocaine, were recently arrested and hauled before the public and media as domestic terrorists.  They were arrested in an FBI informant driven plot to attack New York City synagogues, and also supposedly to blow up airplanes. All of those arrested are supposedly recent converts to Islam who are said to have accepted the faith while in prison. According to news reports, neither attended any mosque regularly and in fact the Imam at one local mosque in the New York town where the suspects lived, said that the people in the community avoided both the informant and the suspects due to their strange behaviors, and the disheveled appearance of one of the suspects. In other words, neither of these men, nor the informant are part of any Muslim community, and were recognized early on by Muslim community members as potential trouble, and possible players in an FBI operation in their community.
Media reports suggest that the informant cooked up the plot. The FBI itself says that it supplied the fake explosives that were delivered to the suspected plotters to use in carrying out the plot, which was never attempted. The arrest took place once the suspected perpetrators accepted delivery of the fake weapons, so no act of terrorism actually occurred.
Civil rights activists and libertarians are asking, considering these men’s mental illnesses, and other mental disabilities, if the suspects were even capable of initiating such a sophisticated plot without the creativity and coaxing of the FBI informant. The informant is a Pakistani national who was himself previously arrested for a crime that involved fraud. It is reported that his willingness to serve as an informant was a direct result of his own arrest, and a deal he struck with the FBI to stay in the US and out of prison for credit card fraud.  Also, the suspects are indigent and none had either the financial resources, or the necessary contacts to procure weapons and explosives needed to carry out the supposed plot. This is why the idea, the contacts, the money and the explosives were all provided by the informant.
If we look at the accepted legal definition of entrapment as presented in Black’s Law Dictionary, which says entrapment is “the act of officers or agents of the government in inducing a person to commit a crime not contemplated by him, for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him,”[1] it becomes obvious that there is plenty about this case to cause us to suspect that this may actually be a case of entrapment. Black’s Law Dictionary goes on to say further,
According to the generally accepted view, a law enforcement official, or an undercover agent acting in cooperation with such an official, perpetrates an entrapment when, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of a crime, he originates the idea of the crime, and then induces another person to engage in conduct constituting such a crime when the other person is not otherwise disposed to do so. [2]
FBI statements suggesting that the agency allowed the informant a period of one year to radicalize the suspects, causing them to feel depressed and angered by the killing of Afghani and Pakistani Muslims by the US in the so called international war on terrorism, also suggests that these suspects were not predisposed to violence or terrorism, and were in fact convinced by the informant that they should be. The mental and psychological health of these supposed terrorists is sure to pose an important question, that question being, “were they even capable of understanding what they were being told, or asked to do?” There are also reliable reports that the informant offered to pay for a desperately needed liver transplant for one of the suspect’s immediate family members in exchange for his participation in the informant’s plot.
Due to the many legitimate questions surrounding this case, the National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) is filing a complaint with the US Department of Justice, requesting an investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to ascertain if in fact the FBI informant entrapped these suspects, and if so should the case be allowed to progress to trial. Until the trial, most of the evidence will not be revealed. Nevertheless, what we know so far is enough to attract the attention of civil libertarians and others of all faiths and political persuasions who are determined to end what many feel are US government excesses and seeming violations of Constitutional protections of citizen’s rights in the prosecution of the so called domestic war on terrorism.

Americans are beginning to ask questions and also to demand honest answers not only about the possible violations of the law, but also about the double standard that left a known potential terrorist on the streets to kill an abortion doctor, but made a public spectacle of three African men of very limited mental capacities, calling them domestic terrorists when no act of terrorism ever took place.

It is also, perhaps, important to note that after this arrest, the Governor of New York granted several synagogues in New York City, $25,000 each from the state’s Homeland Security funds, to beef up their security.

[1] Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, centennial Edition (191-1991), P. 532.
[2] Ibid.

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

Quran: 16:125
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