Feds feared “entrapment” in specious NYC terrorism case

The case against Jose Pimentel, the latest accused would-be Islamist terrorist who was busted in New York City, is starting to smell more and more dubious. It seems the case was left to the NYPD and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance because the FBI—not exactly known for its caution or scrupulous reverence for defendants’ rights—declined to get involved, fearing a weak case. City authorities are portraying Pimental as an “al-Qaeda sympathizer” (note: “sympathizer,” not “operative”) but also as a “lone wolf” with no actual overseas connections. He was impecunious (hardly a condition for an effective terrorist), and openly maintained a website espousing his jihadist beliefs and bad-assing about blowing shit up (ditto). The FBI was apparently worried about entrapment—which has already been invoked as a possibility by Pimentel’s attorney.

It was also noted by the Associated Press that Pimentel’s arrest marked the second time this year that the NYPD took the unusual step of working with a local DA rather than the federal prosecutor to bring a terrorism case. In May, Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh were indicted on charges they told an NYPD undercover detective about their desire to attack synagogues. But in an unusual move, they faced state rather than federal charges, and there was no coordination with the FBI. A grand jury failed to indict on a terrorism conspiracy count that carried the potential for life in prison without parole. They were later indicted on lesser terrorism and hate crime charges, including one punishable by up to 32 years.

While 32 years in the slammer is an awful long time just for being a bad-assing blabbermouth to an undercover cop (as we have asked repeatedly, is wanting to do something a crime?), this is actually a glimmer of hope. Maybe the public is finally starting to see through the endless scam of infiltrator-generated specious terrorism cases.

However, freedom-haters will take any opportunity to erode the citizenry’s elbow room and autonomy in the name of “security.” Media accounts of course do not mention the name (much less the actual URL) of Pimentel’s indiscrete website, which has presumably been taken offline anyway, so we can’t judge for ourselves how inflammatory it really was. But Fox News informs us that Joe Lieberman, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to Google protesting that Pimentel was able to maintain his site on the Internet giant’s Blogger hosting service. He called on Google to “expressly ban terrorist content”—without providing a definition of “terrorist content.” (Fox News, Nov. 23; AP, NYT, TPM, Nov. 21; NYT, May 13)

See our last posts on the fear in New York City, and the politics of cyberspace.

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  1. Bomb was built in informant’s apartment
    Why aren’t we surprised? From the AP, Nov. 22:

    NYC terror case informant has own legal woe
    A confidential informant who helped build a terror case against a man charged with crafting homemade bombs to attack post offices and police stations has legal trouble of his own, the terror suspect’s new lawyer said Tuesday. A person familiar with the matter said it was a minor marijuana charge.

    Attorney Lori Cohen said she’d been appointed to represent terror suspect Jose Pimentel, an American who authorities have described as an al-Qaida sympathizer arrested as he pieced together a pipe bomb in the informant’s apartment. Pimentel initially was represented by a Legal Aid Society lawyer, but Cohen said she was told Legal Aid had represented the informant in an unspecified other case, creating a conflict of interest.

    The informant’s case is “a low-level marijuana arrest,” a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the information hadn’t been made public.

    Pimentel and the informant smoked marijuana together during the investigation, according to two other people briefed on the probe. They also spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters not made public.

    Pot-smoking jihadis? Well, if it was good enough for Osama