Magazine article In These Times

Government-Assisted Terrorists

Magazine article In These Times

Government-Assisted Terrorists

Article excerpt

ON May 20, federal and New York City authorities arrested 'four men on charges of plotting domestic terrorist attacks. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Snyder described the men as being eager "to bring death to Jews."

This story is depressingly familiar. With apocalyptic rhetoric, the authorities herald an arrest, boasting that their efforts, with the aid of confidential informants, have foiled another homegrown terrorist plot. However, it soon becomes clear the alleged plotters were incapable of committing these ter- rorist acts without the participation and provocation of the informants.

This agent-provocateur scenario has played out in two other cases. One of them was the so-called "Liberty City 7" case, in which seven men of Haitian descent living in Miami's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood were charged in June 2006 with conspiracy to commit terrorism.

In that case, an undercover informant, experiencing legal trouble and flush with $140,000 in FBI cash, struck up a friendship with the men and helped to conceive the plot. He suggested the targets and supplied much of the financing and equipment. Their high-profile arrests received media attention when former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced the seven men plotted to create an "Islamic army" bent on "killing devils." None of them turned out to be Muslims.

After two mistrials and the acquittals of two suspects, jurors convicted five of the original seven men on May 12. In a May 16 editorial, the Miami Herald concluded, "This wasn't so much a case of the FBI interrupting an ongoing terror plot, but of the agency providing a blueprint for it." The five men face sentences between 30 and 70 years.

The second case, revealed in June 2007, concerns an alleged conspiracy to blow up fuel tanks, terminal buildings and the web of fuel pipes running underneath Kennedy International Airport.

A confidential informant also set this case in motion. The informant was a convicted drug dealer whose sentence, according to the criminal complaint, "is pending as part of his cooperation agreement with the government." The equation is clear: the bigger the bust, the lighter his sentence.

In the most recent New York case, the informant identified by the New York Post as Shahed Hussain, became an FBI mole in 2003, after he was busted for identity fraud. …

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