Posts tagged Terrorism
Posts tagged Terrorism
Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster, July 27, 2012. The group of men and women gathered in the Home Office meeting room were grey-skinned with exhaustion. They had been working together for years, sharing a steadily growing burden of responsibility that now threatened to crush them.
Imagine: This is what the London Olympic stadium might look like if terrorists were able to send a dirty bomb up the Thames
In less than an hour, the London Olympics of 2012 would get under way at a ceremony presided over by Her Majesty the Queen and attended by political leaders from around the world. More than a billion people would be watching live on TV.
The Olympic Stadium was now, officially, the top terrorist target on earth. The meeting room contained representatives from MI6 and MI5 the Special Forces, the Metropolitan Police’s SO15 Counter-Terrorism Unit and a slew of Government departments. They were way past the point of making preparations. Every possible eventuality had been considered and its dangers analysed.
CCTV cameras, backed by facial recognition systems, were tracking the crowds travelling to the Olympic Stadium and gathering in its stands. Teams of sniffer dogs had gone over every square millimetre of the Olympic site, looking for explosives.
In the skies above London, police spotter drones were tracking any suspicious movements of traffic. Helicopters fitted with radiation sensors had swept the city from the air, seeking out the gamma rays that would signal the presence of a nuclear device.
Everything had been thought of. And yet there could still be nasty surprises. Such as the alert they had just received from GCHQ, the Government’s surveillance centre in Cheltenham. It stated there had been a sudden spike in communications traffic between known activists in the Islamic fundamentalist movement.
Warning: Security Minister Lord West says terrorists could launch an attack from water on the London Olympics
One email in particular had caught the attention of a GCHQ supercomputer. Sent from an iPhone belonging to a regular worshipper at one of London’s most radical mosques, it read: ‘Have collected those old 90s records. Taking them to the party now.’
It seemed perfectly innocent, but for two digits and two letters, placed consecutively: 9-0-s-r. Together they formed the chemical symbol for a substance called strontium-90. And that was enough to silence the room.
‘Wonderful,’ sighed a senior MI6 officer with heavy irony. ‘A dirty bomb. Just what we need.’
Though no one in Westminster knew it, about 50 kg of strontium-90 was sitting at that moment less than five miles from the Olympic Stadium.
It had come from the frozen wasteland of Russia’s Arctic coast. There, it had been used to power one of a string of unmanned lighthouses erected by the former Soviet government, then forgotten in the chaos of the post-Communist years.
Retrieved by a Russian mafia gang, the strontium was sold on to Al Qaeda operatives fighting alongside Islamic rebels in Chechnya. They placed it in a lead casket, which rendered the strontium’s radioactivity undetectable, and transported it to the UK in a container marked Agricultural Equipment.
Now the strontium had come to rest in an anonymous unit on an industrial estate in Walthamstow, East London. But it would not be at rest for much longer.
The Prime Minister had sent his deputy director of communications to the Home Office meeting, the director himself having bagged a Royal Box seat at the Olympics opening ceremony. ‘Dirty bomb’ was not a phrase the spin doctor wanted to see on tomorrow’s front pages.
‘What are we talking about here?’ he asked. ‘Is this some kind of nuke?’
The head of the FBI on Wednesday used a recently thwarted bomb plot to press Congress to extend the agency’s ability to spy on foreigners abroad without a warrant.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told a panel of House lawmakers that some of the surveillance provisions, which are set to expire at the end of the year, are “absolutely essential” to stopping terrorists from attacking the United States.
One of the particular provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows U.S. officials to conduct electronic surveillance without a warrant on foreigners living abroad whom they suspect of being engaged in terrorist activities.
Earlier this week, the CIA thwarted a bomb plot hatched by al Qaeda in Yemen that was aimed at exploding a commercial airliner headed to the United States. On Tuesday, it was revealed that the would-be attacker was actually an undercover Saudi intelligence [CIA] agent who turned the bomb over to the FBI for investigation.
It remains unclear what role the FBI’s use of electronic surveillance, as argued for by Mueller on Wednesday, played in stopping the bomb plot.
“We’ve seen over the last several days, particularly with regard to the IED that was recently recovered, that terrorism is and should be and continues to be our No. 1 priority and the No. 1 priority of a number of our intelligence agencies,” said Mueller in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
“The amendments that are up for passage again — reenactment — at the end of this year [are] absolutely essential in our efforts to address this threat.”
The panel’s chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), pressed for an extension of the FISA provisions set to expire at the end of 2012.
“This law gives the intelligence community the tools it needs to determine who terrorists communicate with, what they say and what they may be planning,” said Smith.
“FISA strikes a balance as it allows the FBI to acquire intelligence information about foreign terrorists abroad, while preserving and protecting the civil liberties of American citizens no matter where they are.”
standing beside the comrades duped into an fbi bomb conspiracy
as if the job of marginalizing the anarchist movement in the u.s. was not already being championed by cowards within the occupy movement, five bold, wreckless comrades have found themselves victims of a fraudulent bombing plot which the fbi engineered.
it is imperative not to let these brave, foolish comrades become isolated. more than anything else we must remember:
ATTACKS ON THE FASCIST/CORPORATE INFRASTRUCTURE ARE LEGITIMATE AND NECESSARY!
if there is to be shit-talking and back-stabbing over this, let it be over our own cowardice that makes such an arrest an isolated incident. why are the prisons and jails not overflowing with captured comrades? why is our rebellion so weak that the government is not forced to release us as soon as they process us into their jails, for lack of space? naturally, we must all strive in our efforts to avoid being captured, but that should never stop us from doing that which we know must be done. circumstances are changing, and the government’s well-known explicit, and fully documented policy of pre-emptive strikes ensures that we cannot allow the militarized police forces to always push the attack. if not now, then when? even today may be too late.
IF THE INNOCENT DESERVE SUPPORT, THE GUILTY MUST NEVER BE IN DOUBT OF IT!
Demonization of Anarchism
In addition to a continuation of undercover informants and FBI-manufactured plots, this case also reflects on an-going focus on demonizing anarchists.
The government’s press release proclaims that the defendants are “self-proclaimed anarchists.” The affidavit notes that they attended anarchist protests and carried anarchist flags.
The affidavit also says that the defendants talked about anarchists “rioting and destroying each city” that holds May Day protests, and that it will be “off the hook.”
Demonizing anarchists has gone one for over a century, of course, but in recent years the rhetoric has dovetailed with “War on Terrorism” hysteria.
For example, in Scott Demuth’s case, the government argued that: “Defendant’s writings, literature, and conduct suggest that he is an anarchist and associated with the ALF movement. Therefore, he is a domestic terrorist.”
In another case, the government sought a high cash bond against environmentalist Hugh Farrell because “the defendant has been observed advocating literature and materials which advocate anarchy.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that the announcement of these arrests was carefully unveiled yesterday, so that the top news story this May Day would not be about howanarchists are preventing home foreclosures, starting community gardens, teaching collective organizing skills, and re-framing class consciousness, but about how they were part of an FBI-guided “terrorist plot.”
from green is the new red
the federal government will move to crush dissent at some point. do you know the story of may day?Commemorating the Fight
A reign of terror swept over Chicago. The press and the pulpit called for revenge, insisting the bomb was the work of socialists and anarchists. Meeting halls, union offices, printing works, and private homes were raided, and known socialists and anarchists were rounded up. Even many individuals who had no connections at all to the socialists or anarchists were arrested and tortured. “Make the raids first and look up the law afterwards,” was the public statement of Julius Grinnell, the state’s attorney.
U.S. and allied officials are increasingly concerned that doctors working with al-Qaida’s Yemen-based affiliate will implant bombs inside living militants in order to try to circumvent airport security measures and bring down aircraft, Reuters reported.
A CIA drone attack earlier this year killed a Yemeni doctor who had devised medical procedures to surgically plant explosive devices in humans, Reuters said, but the expert bomb-maker who invented the tactic is still at large.
Two attacks in 2009 — including a failed plot to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day — involved explosives sewn into the bomber’s underwear. Authorities subsequently became concerned that militants would begin concealing explosives inside their body cavities, which would be harder to detect by airport X-ray machines.
Many Western airports installed unpopular body scanners in response to the threat.
BRITISH military commanders said they are training to deal with a “9/11-type attack” as they launched a major exercise to test their readiness for the 2012 London Olympics.
As jet fighters took to the sky with nine weeks to go to the opening ceremony, the Olympic Park was getting its biggest try-out as the final wave of sporting test events got under way.
Four Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter jets flew into the British capital to herald the start of Exercise Olympic Guardian, a nine-day training operation to test the response to a possible air attack during the Games.
Military helicopters were stationed around the capital, including on the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean in the River Thames, with some carrying sniper teams.
AWACS surveillance planes and air-to-air refuelling aircraft will also be airborne during the exercise.
Airspace restrictions will be in place throughout the July 27-August 12 Games.
Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, air component commander for Olympics air security, said their plan had several levels and “will allow us to deal at one end - which is that 9/11-type attack - perhaps down to the lower and the slower type of threat that we may face.
“All we are doing is having in place what we would describe as prudent and appropriate measures, in order that we could react if required in a timely and appropriate fashion.”
Speaking of any potential attackers, he said: “I would hope when they see how we are preparing they might be deterred from making any threats to the Games.”
Typhoons are stationed on high alert as part of Britain’s regular air defence.
“Whilst there is no specific threat to the Games, we have to be ready to assist in delivering a safe and secure Olympics for all to enjoy,” said defence secretary Philip Hammond.
The exercise underlines the commitment “to keeping the public safe at a time when the world will be watching us”.
At the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, five venues were to stage events in three Olympic and three Paralympic sports between today and next Monday.
Assisted by 11,000 staff, more than 140,000 spectators were to watch 3000 athletes take part in hockey, wheelchair tennis, water polo, athletics, boccia and Paralympic athletics.
The international invitational hockey tournament was the first to get started, with Britain’s women winning the opening match on the striking blue-and-pink surface, beating South Korea 1-0.
Just one stand was open at the 15,000-seater Riverbank Arena but the capacity will gradually be increased throughout the tournament.
“We were blown away,” goalscorer Alex Danson told the BBC. “It was a 4000 crowd and so noisy.”
World number one Australia, Olympic champions Germany, Britain and India are competing in the men’s event, while World Cup holders Argentina, China, Britain and South Korea are in the women’s tournament.
The British university athletics championships will take place in the main Olympic Stadium from Saturday to Tuesday, and on Sunday the sporting action will be mixed with a concert as 40000 spectators get a feel for the venue.
“Testing the Olympic Park and its operations is a hugely important part of our plans,” said London Games chairman Sebastian Coe.
“Over the last 10 months, over 250,000 spectators have watched world-class sport as part of the London Prepares series test event program, and, in doing so, every one of them is helping us deliver the best possible Games.”
Meanwhile it was announced that the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympics will be called Enlightenment.
The Paralympic movement originated in Britain in 1948 and the August 29 spectacular at the Olympic Stadium, which will feature injured soldiers, will be a celebration of the Paralympics coming home.
John Brennan, President Obama’s chief adviser on counterterrorism, has again put on public display two unfortunate facts: (1) that the White House has no clue as to how to counter terrorism; and (2) (in Brennan’s words) “the unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives we are sometimes obliged to take lives.”
In a speech on April 30, Brennan did share one profound insight: “Countries typically don’t want foreign soldiers in their cities and towns.” His answer to that? “The precision of targeted [drone] strikes.” Does he really mean to suggest that local populations are more accepting of unmanned drones buzzing overhead and firing missiles on the push of a button by a “pilot” halfway around the world?
Beneath Brennan’s Orwellian rhetoric lies the reality that he remains unable (or unwilling) to deal with, the $64 question former White House correspondent Helen Thomas asked him repeatedly on Jan. 7, 2010, about why terrorists do the things they do.
Brennan: “Al-Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”
Is it possible he still has no clue? To demonstrate how little progress Brennan has made in the way of understanding the challenge of “terrorism,” let’s look back at my commentary in early 2010 about Brennan’s vacuous non-answers to Helen Thomas. At the time, I wrote:
Thank God for Helen Thomas, the only person to show any courage at the White House press briefing after President Barack Obama gave a flaccid account of the intelligence screw-up that almost downed an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
After Obama briefly addressed L’Affaire Abdulmutallab and wrote “must do better” on the report cards of the national security schoolboys responsible for the near catastrophe, the President turned the stage over to counter-terrorism guru John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
It took 89-year old veteran correspondent Helen Thomas (now 91) to break through the vapid remarks about rechanneling “intelligence streams,” fixing “no-fly” lists, deploying “behavior detection officers,” and buying more body-imaging scanners.
Thomas recognized the John & Janet filibuster for what it was, as her catatonic press colleagues took their customary dictation and asked their predictable questions. Instead, Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.
She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did. Thomas: “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”
Brennan: “Al-Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents. … They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al-Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”
Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”
Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al-Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”
Brennan: “I think this is a — long issue, but al-Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”
Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”
Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how al-Qaeda evildoers are perverting a religion and exploiting impressionable young men.
There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.
I had been hoping Obama would say something intelligent about what drove Abdulmutallab to do what he did, but the president uttered a few vacuous comments before sending in the clowns. This is what he said before he walked away from the podium:
It is clear that al-Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations … to do their bidding. … And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al-Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death … while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress. … That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.
But why it is so hard for Muslims to “get” that message? Why can’t they end their preoccupation with dodging U.S. missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Gaza long enough to reflect on how we are only trying to save them from terrorists while simultaneously demonstrating our commitment to “justice and progress”?
Does a smart fellow like Obama expect us to believe that all we need to do is “communicate clearly to Muslims” that it is al-Qaeda, not the U.S. and its allies, that brings “misery and death”? Does any informed person not know that the unprovoked U.S.-led invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displaced 4.5 million from their homes? How is that for “misery and death”?
Rather than a failure to communicate, U.S. officials are trying to rewrite recent history, which seems to be much easier to accomplish with the Washington press corps and large segments of the American population than with the Muslim world. But why isn’t there a frank discussion by America’s leaders and media about the real motivation of Muslim anger toward the United States? Why was Helen Thomas the only journalist to raise the touchy but central question of motive?
Peeking Behind the Screen
We witnessed a similar phenomenon when the 9/11 Commission Report tiptoed into a cautious discussion of possible motives behind the 9/11 attacks. To their credit, the drafters of that report apparently went as far as their masters would allow, in gingerly introducing a major elephant into the room: “America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.” (p. 376)
When asked later about the flabby way that last sentence ended, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, explained that there had been a donnybrook over whether that paragraph could be included at all.
The drafters also squeezed in the reason given by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as to why he “masterminded” the attacks on 9/11: “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed … from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”
Would you believe that former Vice President Dick Cheney has also pointed to U.S. support for Israel as one of the “true sources of resentment”? This unique piece of honesty crept into his speech to the American Enterprise Institute on May 21, 2009.
Sure, he also trotted out the bromide that the terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world.” But the Israel factor slipped into the speech, perhaps an inadvertent acknowledgement of the Israeli albatross adorning the neck of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Very few pundits and academicians are willing to allude to this reality, presumably out of fear for their future career prospects.
Former senior CIA officer Paul R. Pillar, now a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the few willing to refer, in his typically understated way, to “all the other things … including policies and practices that affect the likelihood that people … will be radicalized, and will try to act out the anger against us.” One has to fill in the blanks regarding what those “other things” are.
But no worries. Secretary Napolitano has a fix for this unmentionable conundrum. It’s called “counter-radicalization,” which she describes thus: “How do we identify someone before they become radicalized to the point where they’re ready to blow themselves up with others on a plane? And how do we communicate better American values and so forth … around the globe?”
Better communication. That’s the ticket.
Hypocrisy and Double Talk
“The world is mental in some way that we do not yet understand, but that which we’re edging toward understanding. And the world is made of language. I can’t say that enough. Whenever we get into these discussions about reality, or effects in space and time, we are operating outside this assumption that the world is made of language.” – Terence McKenna, from a talk he gave on September 11, 1993.The Excavator
“As always: combatting Terrorism is not the end of the War on Terror; the War on Terror is the end in itself, and Terrorism is merely its pretext.” – Glenn Greenwald, “Since bin Laden’s death,” May 1, 2012.
Jose Rodriguez, one of the CIA’s inquisitors, defended torture and the Agency’s destruction of evidence on CBS’s 60 minutes on Sunday, April 29.
As the former Deputy Director for Operations, Rodriguez committed many war crimes, torture being among them. He is a 21st century version of a Spanish inquisitor. His job is to protect National Security orthodoxies, smear victims with false charges, and sell the lie to the American people that the War on Terrorism is a noble struggle which the CIA must fight with an iron will.
According to CIA inquisitors and their defenders in the press, no questions about CIA policies should be raised because the CIA is holy and pure, while its detractors are just a bunch of conspiracy theorists, left-wing radicals, and Islamofascists.
As we can see, there are many similarities between the modern charges of terrorism and conspiracy theory made by intelligence agencies and the medieval charges of blasphemy and heresy made by religious authorities. The Catholic Church promised its flock salvation; the National Security State promises its flock security. Neither salvation or security can be delivered by political and religious authorities, but that fact hasn’t stopped religion and government from going out of business yet.
The most important element of the CIA’s 21st century inquisition is staining the victim with guilt. In CIA torture sessions, the “terrorists” who confess their guilt are treated more mildly and kindly than the “terrorists” who insist on their innocence.
American playwright Arthur Miller said that staining the victim with sin and guilt has been used by political and religious authorities throughout history, most famously in Salem, Massachusetts in the late seventeenth century and during McCarthyism in the 1950s. “This is not a phenomenon from 1692 or 1952 or anything like it. It is right now,” said Miller.
The assumption of guilt is stronger than the weight of facts. Whether the innocent victim is a “heretic,” or a “terrorist,” the wolves of terror and torture always justify their actions by spreading mass hysteria, indoctrinating the population, placing propaganda above truth, and smearing critics.
Deanna Proach wrote in her article, “The Spanish Inquisition: The Use of Torture in the Inquisition,” that during the early period of the Inquisition, “Only those who refused to confess their sins were tortured severely.” Think about that. Once you’re called evil, it’s game over. No trial can save your ass. You are condemned to die. Osama Bin Laden could’ve hired the smartest Jewish lawyer in Israel, bribed the judge of history with CIA money, terrorized the Jury into accepting Allah as the master of the Earth, and he still would have lost the case because he was declared Evil by the U.S. government.
The power of evoking evil in the enemy is a religious power, and modern totalitarian governments have embraced this power with zeal, especially the governments of America, England, and Israel. False flag events such as 9/11 and 7/7 show that the CIA, Mossad, and MI6 are fine with exploiting the god-like faith that has been invested in them by their flocks. They have been corrupted because it is hard to resist the power and glory that one receives from having the public believe in the justness of your institutional authority.
Criminal abuse of the public trust is natural whenever political and religious authorities are given total obedience. The corruption of the Catholic Church, political Islam, and institutions like the CIA, MI6, and Mossad all stem from the same root: mindless public faith.
You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia, or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda,” but “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative,” and “organization,” all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming Western democracy.
What are you going to do about it?
In Britain, on instructions from the CIA, secret courts are to deal with “terror suspects.” Habeas corpus is dying. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five men, including three British citizens, can be extradited to the U.S. even though only one has been charged with a crime. All have been imprisoned for years under the 2003 U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty, which was signed one month after the criminal invasion of Iraq. The European Court had condemned the treaty as likely to lead to “cruel and unusual punishment.” One of the men, Babar Ahmad, was awarded 63,000 pounds compensation for 73 recorded injuries he sustained in the custody of the Metropolitan Police. Sexual abuse, the signature of fascism, was high on the list. Another man is a schizophrenic, who has suffered a complete mental collapse and is in Broadmoor secure hospital; another is a suicide risk. To the Land of the Free they go — along with young Richard O’Dwyer, who faces 10 years in shackles and an orange jumpsuit because he allegedly infringed U.S. copyright on the Internet.
As the law is politicized and Americanized, these travesties are not untypical. In upholding the conviction of a London university student, Mohammed Gul, for disseminating “terrorism” on the Internet, appeals court judges in London ruled that “acts … against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which sought to influence a government and were made for political purposes” were now crimes. Call to the dock Thomas Paine, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela.
What are you going to do about it?
The prognosis is clear now: the malignancy that Norman Mailer called “pre-fascist” has metastasized. The U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, defends the “right” of his government to assassinate American citizens. Israel, the protégé, is allowed to aim its nukes at nukeless Iran. In this looking-glass world, the lying is panoramic. The massacre of 17 Afghan civilians on March 11, including at least nine children and four women, is attributed to a “rogue” American soldier. The “authenticity” of this was vouched by President Obama himself, who had “seen a video” and regarded it as “conclusive proof.” An independent Afghan parliamentary investigation produced eyewitnesses who give detailed evidence of as many as 20 soldiers, aided by a helicopter, ravaging their villages, killing and raping: a standard, if marginally more murderous, U.S. Special Forces “night raid.”
Take away the video-game technology of killing — America’s contribution to modernity — and the behavior is traditional. Immersed in comic-book righteousness, poorly or brutally trained, frequently racist, obese, and led by a corrupt officer class, American forces transfer the homicide of home to faraway places whose impoverished struggles they cannot comprehend. A nation founded on the genocide of the native population never quite kicks the habit. Vietnam was “Indian country,” and its “slits” and “gooks” were to be “blown away.”
THE United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.
When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.
Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court. Defendants invariably claim entrapment and almost always lose, because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents. To underscore their predisposition, many suspects are “warned about the seriousness of their plots and given opportunities to back out,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. But not always, recorded conversations show. Sometimes they are coaxed to continue.
Undercover operations, long practiced by the F.B.I., have become a mainstay of counterterrorism, and they have changed in response to the post-9/11 focus on prevention. “Prior to 9/11 it would be very unusual for the F.B.I. to present a crime opportunity that wasn’t in the scope of the activities that a person was already involved in,” said Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer and former F.B.I. agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups. An alleged drug dealer would be set up to sell drugs to an undercover agent, an arms trafficker to sell weapons. That still happens routinely, but less so in counterterrorism, and for good reason.
“There isn’t a business of terrorism in the United States, thank God,” a former federal prosecutor, David Raskin, explained.
“You’re not going to be able to go to a street corner and find somebody who’s already blown something up,” he said. Therefore, the usual goal is not “to find somebody who’s already engaged in terrorism but find somebody who would jump at the opportunity if a real terrorist showed up in town.”
And that’s the gray area. Who is susceptible? Anyone who plays along with the agents, apparently. Once the snare is set, law enforcement sees no choice. “Ignoring such threats is not an option,” Mr. Boyd argued, “given the possibility that the suspect could act alone at any time or find someone else willing to help him.”
Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech — comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas — then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups.
Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk: for example, Waad Ramadan Alwan, an Iraqi in Kentucky, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded roadside bomb near Bayji, Iraq, and Raja Khan of Chicago, who had sent funds to an Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan.
Google “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad” and you’ll get over 590,000 hits. You’ll find full-text English language translations of this Arabic document on the Internet Archive, an Internet library; on 4Shared Desktop, a file-sharing site; and on numerous Islamic sites. You will find it cited and discussed in a US Senate Committee staff report and Congressional testimony. Feel free to read it. Just don’t try to make your own translation from the original, which was written in Arabic in Saudi Arabia in 2003. Because if you look a little further on Google you will find multiple news accounts reporting that on April 12, a 29-year old citizen from Sudbury, Massachusetts named Tarek Mehanna was sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison for translating “39 Ways” and helping to distribute it online.
As Anthony Lewis was wont to ask in his New York Times columns, “Is this America?” Seventeen and a half years for translating a document? Granted, it’s an extremist text. Among the “39 ways” it advocates include “Truthfully Ask Allah for Martyrdom,” “Go for Jihad Yourself,” “Giving Shelter to the Mujahedin,” and “Have Enmity Towards the Disbelievers.” (Other “ways to serve,” however, include, “Learn to Swim and Ride Horses,” “Get Physically Fit,” “Stand in Opposition to the Disbelievers,” and “Expose the Hypocrites and Traitors.”) But surely we have not come to the point where we lock people up for nearly two decades for translating a widely available document? After all, news organizations and scholars routinely translate and publicize jihadist texts; think, for example, of the many reports about messages from Osama bin Laden.
In 2009, Tarek Mehanna, who has no prior criminal record, was arrested and placed in maximum security confinement on “terrorism” charges. The case against him rested on allegations that as a 21-year old he had traveled with friends to Yemen in 2004 in an unsuccessful search for a jihadist training camp in order to fight in Iraq, and that he had translated several jihadist tracts and videos into English for distribution on the Internet, allegedly to spur readers on to jihad. After a two-month trial, he was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. The jury did not specify whether it found him guilty for his aborted trip to Yemen—which resulted in no known contacts with jihadists—or for his translations, so under established law, the conviction cannot stand unless it’s permissible to penalize him for his speech. Mehanna is appealing.
Under traditional (read “pre-9/11”) First Amendment doctrine, Mehanna could not have been convicted even if he had written “39 Ways” himself, unless the government could shoulder the heavy burden of demonstrating that the document was “intended and likely to incite imminent lawless action,” a standard virtually impossible to meet for written texts. In 1969, in Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court established that standard in ruling that the First Amendment protected a Ku Klux Klansman who made a speech to a Klan gathering advocating “revengeance” against “niggers” and “Jews.” It did so only after years of experience with federal and state governments using laws prohibiting advocacy of crime as a tool to target political dissidents (anarchists, anti-war protesters, and Communists, to name a few).
Taliban [Side Note: Yes, that Taliban; their views are far more important than the lies being spewed by the US empire.]
The invading forces top commander, John Allen and stooge administration’s Defense Minister, Abdu-ur-Rahim Wardag in Afghanistan signed a deal Sunday, Apr. 08, 2012 supposedly giving the Afghan puppet forces authority over night raids on homes of Afghan civilians.
The head of the puppet administration, Karzai regarded this move as a great step towards the national sovereignty.
A day after this on Monday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters, “In practical terms, not much has changed.” He pointed out that U.S. forces may only obtain an official warrant from an Afghan panel, and that the President Karzai will not hold “a veto” over U.S. night raids carried out in Afghanistan.
“This is not about [giving Afghan officials] a veto at all,” he said.
Because Afghan law allows warrants to be issued retroactively, that is, the raids could take place before a warrant is obtained, he said
He explicitly said that although the warrants are required for the night raids in accordance with the deal but warrants can be obtained after rather than before the raids.
Lisa Curtis, a South Asia specialist at the Heritage Foundation believes that the US will retain control over night raids conducted by the CIA or associated paramilitary groups.
All the US national security analysts view the agreement as largely symbolic and which will ensure and justify the US permanent military presence after the withdrawal in 2014, however, the night raid operations will continue to happen as they used to do.
The puppet forces will apparently take initiating in the night raids but, in practice, they will act on the order of the US invading commanders and allow the warrants of what the US invaders want them to be issued. Afghan judicial officials will not be authorized to prevent the capture of civilians and that the instruction and permission of the US commanders will be sought before every night raid and release of a detainee captured in nigh raids.
In such circumstances, as they put it (quick reaction times) the US will hold the veto-power, that is, the US forces will have authority over the capture or release of the detainees.
Giving that, what may “the Afghans authority over night raids “signify? Will this “pact “not imply throwing dust into the eyes of Afghans and the world?
The “agreement” follows the martyrdom of the renowned sharia scholar, Ustad Qayam-ud-Din and the capture of his family members in Frayab district, Afghanistan suggesting that the existence of such “deal” has not changed the US strategy and attitudes in Afghanistan.
As a matter of fact, “night raid operation” is a form of state terrorism or terrorism, one of the most malicious of its kind the invading forces use for mass harassment, torture and massacre Afghan nation and disrespect of Afghan national culture which contradicts and violates Geneva and United Nations Conventions and all human rights.
According the western media account and statistics, the invading forces conducted 2200 night raids, involving the mass murder of thousands of innocent and defenseless civilians including children, women, and the aged within their compounds before very eyes of their family members, not to mention those held as captives who have disappeared as if vanished in the thin air.
Some western writers have taken the lid off few of the invading forces shocking war crimes in a series most appalling and malicious ones committed by the invaders across Afghanistan. In one of the articles Jerome Starkey is quoted as saying that there was the heart-breaking incident in an outskirt of Gardez city in Paktia province of Afghanistan in which US forces conducted a night raid and brutally murdered two pregnant woman and a teenage girl and the US forces later claimed that it was done by Taliban, in attempt that the invaders would pin their crime on Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate.
Khalifah al-Akili, a 34-year-old Muslim American from the Pittsburgh area, was to publicly claim that he was the target of an FBI sting operation at a press conference last month. Had he not been arrested at his home one day before the press conference was to take place, al-Akili would have described how he was harassed and stalked by undercover FBI operatives, one of whose identity was exposed after a Google search of his phone number returned results linking him to another undercover entrapment case in New York state.
Authorities claim that al-Akili “had made radical Islamic statements and that police had uncovered unspecified jihadist literature at his home,” as theGuardian’s Paul Harris reported (“‘Taliban sympathiser’ arrest prompts new questions about FBI tactics,” 26 March 2012).
Al-Akili is currently in detention, charged with a firearms code violation related to a seven-second video of him firing a gun at a shooting range.
Shortly before his arrest, al-Akili reached out to civil liberties groups, national Muslim organizations and the media with his claim of being targeted in an FBI entrapment plot. The timing of his arrest before the press conference hosted by the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms has caused some, including his lawyer, to suspect that his arrest was timed to prevent him from getting his story out.
At the press conference, al-Akili would have narrated how several months ago, he met a man who called himself Shareef, who would attend dawn prayers at an area mosque and, according to a National Coalition statement, would “with increasing frequency [turn] the conversation to fighting.” Shareef would repeatedly ask al-Akili to help him obtain a gun, which al-Akili refused to do (“Arrest of Muslim One Day before He Was to Participate in a NCPCF Press Conference,” 21 March 2012).
Shareef promised to help al-Akili finance a restaurant if al-Akili would do something for him, “which al-Akili understood to mean some ‘act of violence against others,’” according to the statement. Al-Akili tried to avoid the man, but this proved difficult as Shareef lived only two blocks away.
The National Coalition adds: “When Shareef offered to introduce al-Akili to a man he called his ‘brother,’ al-Akili tried to evade the meeting, but as he was walking back to his apartment from the store one night, Shareef pulled his vehicle up to al-Akili. A man got out of the passenger side, introduced himself as Mohammed, and said that he wanted to talk to al-Akili over coffee. Al-Akili made excuses, but when he got home the phone began to ring; it was Shareef and Mohammed downstairs, wanting to come in. Al-Akili pretended not to be at home.”
Mohammed would again appear out of nowhere, insisting that al-Akili meet him. Al-Akili took down his phone number and would eventually run a Google search of it. This is how he found out that Mohammed was actually Shahed Hussain, an undercover FBI operative.
According to an interview that al-Akili gave to the Times Union newspaper shortly before his arrest, when al-Akili asked Hussain whether he was an FBI informant, Hussain quickly ended the call and within a day, Shareef had vacated his apartment and vanished without a trace (“FBI informant in upstate stings, including Albany, surfaces in Pittsburgh case,” 17 March 2012).
Tarek Mehanna, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced Thursday in Worcester, Mass., to 17½ years in prison. It was another of the tawdry show trials held against Muslim activists since 9/11 as a result of the government’s criminalization of what people say and believe. These trials, where secrecy rules permit federal lawyers to prosecute people on “evidence” the defendants are not allowed to examine, are the harbinger of a corporate totalitarian state in which any form of dissent can be declared illegal. What the government did to Mehanna, and what it has done to hundreds of other innocent Muslims in this country over the last decade, it will eventually do to the rest of us.
Mehanna, a teacher at Alhuda Academy in Worcester, was convicted after an eight-week jury trial of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and providing material support to al-Qaida, as well as making false statements to officials investigating terrorism. His real “crime,” however, seems to be viewing and translating jihadi videos online, speaking out against U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and refusing to become a government informant.
Stephen F. Downs, a lawyer in Albany, N.Y., a founder of Project Salam and the author of “Victims of America’s Dirty War,” a booklet posted on the website, has defended Muslim activists since 2006. He has methodically documented the mendacious charges used to incarcerate many Muslim activists as terrorists. Because of “terrorism enhancement” provisions, any sentence can be quadrupled—even minor charges can leave prisoners incarcerated for years.
Side Note: Also see Seymour Hersh’s report in the New Yorker about the MEK HERE.
BY RYAN J. REILLY
Mitchell Reiss, a foreign policy adviser to Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on Friday once again spoke out on behalf of an Iranian opposition group the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
Reiss, a former State Department official, appearedalongside other former U.S. officialslike former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Attorney General Michael Mukasey at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. to support removing the People’s Muhajedin Organization of Iran, or MEK, from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. Reiss, who served as moderator of the panel, opened his remarks with a joke about the ongoing Treasury Departmentinvestigationinto the speaking fees paid to officials like him who have appeared at previous events.
“Up here on the dais this morning, we have some of America’s most distinguished public servants, most decorated military officers, and most respected diplomats — a true collection of outstanding American leaders,” Reiss said. “Or, as the Treasury Department would prefer to call us for our supporting the delisting of the MEK, potential criminals.”
When the U.S. wants to fund, train, arm or otherwise align itself with a Terrorist group or state sponsor of Terror — as it often does — it at least usually has the tact to first remove them from its formal terrorist list (as the U.S. did when it wanted to support Saddam in 1982 and work with Libya in 2006), or it just keeps them off the list altogether despite what former Council on Foreign Relations writer Lionel Beehner described as “mounds of evidence that [they] at one time or another abetted terrorists” (as it has done with close U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras armed and funded in the 1980s by the Reagan administration). But according to a new, multi-sourced report from The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, the U.S. did not even bother going through those motions when, during the Bush years, it trained the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) at a secretive Department of Energy site in Nevada:
It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K… . The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.
Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations – which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. ”We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications — coördinating commo is a big deal.”
A JSOC spokesman told Hersh that ”U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members,” but a MEK lawyer refused to confirm or deny the report, arguing that any such training would undercut the U.S. Government’s claims that MEK belongs on the Terrorist list.