More (specious) terror busts in the news

Specious terrorism busts in which a close reading of news accounts reveals that the supposed plot actually originated with police or FBI infiltrators continue to be alarmingly common, despite the change of administration in Washington. The headlines continue to imply that there was a real threat in these cases, while the actual text indicates otherwise. Here’s the latest example, with the phrases that let slip the bogus nature of the pseudo-plot in bold. From AP, Oct. 26:

Texas: Not-Guilty Plea in Bombing Case
A Jordanian accused of trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper with what he thought was a car bomb pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. The man, Hosam Maher Smadi, 19, faces one count of attempting to use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of bombing a public place. A trial date was set for Dec. 7. The authorities said they arrested Mr. Smadi on Sept. 24 after he parked a truck in a garage beneath the 60-story Fountain Place office building in downtown Dallas. Once he was at a safe distance, Mr. Smadi dialed a cellphone he thought would ignite a bomb in the vehicle, but the device was actually a decoy provided by F.B.I. agents posing as operatives of Al Qaeda, according to the F.B.I.

Oh, and since when did conventional explosives become “weapons of mass destruction”? Is it wise to be dumbing down definitions like this? Not to mention that the headline is completely misleading, given that there was no “bombing” whatsoever, nor any danger of a real bombing at any point.

What’s particularly maddening is that these pseudo-plots get the same media treatment as plots that may actually be real. What are we to make of this one, for instance? Here there was some actual violence. From the New York Times, Oct. 28:

F.B.I. Raid Kills Islamic Group Leader in Michigan
Federal agents on Wednesday fatally shot a man they described as the leader of a violent Sunni Muslim separatist group in Detroit.

The 53-year-old man, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, was killed in one of three raids conducted in and around the city, in which six followers of his were taken into custody.

Mr. Abdullah, whom the agents were trying to arrest in Dearborn on charges that included illegal possession and sale of firearms and conspiracy to sell stolen goods, refused to surrender and began firing at them from a warehouse, according to a statement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office in Detroit. He was shot in the return fire, the statement said.

Mr. Abdullah, the authorities said, led a faction of a group called the Ummah, meaning the Brotherhood, which advocates the establishment of a separate nation within the United States governed by Islamic laws. He was one of 11 men from Detroit and Ontario whom the authorities had charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.

Though none of the men were charged with terrorism, the statement said, “The 11 defendants are members of a group that is alleged to have engaged in violent activity over a period of many years, and known to be armed.”

We also recently had occasion to note that the feds have used precisely the same tactic (and the media have gone along for the ride in precisely the same way) in an Israeli pseudo-espionage case.

See our last post on the specious terrorism busts in the United States, and elsewhere.

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  1. dubious?
    Whoops, here we go again. A reader brought to our attention the following line from the AP account that appeared Oct. 29 in the Miami Herald:

    The FBI penetrated his group with the help of confidential informants who recorded conversations with Abdullah. A year ago, the FBI hatched an undercover operation in which Abdullah and others believed they were selling stolen goods worth more than $5,000.

    Once again, can anyone explain to us why this isn’t considered entrapment?

  2. Another (specious) terror bust in the news
    Here we go again. From the NY Daily News, Oct. 28:

    Accused D.C. bomb plotter Farooque Ahmed’s goal was ‘killing as many Metro riders as possible’
    A former Staten Island man was busted in Washington on Wednesday for helping what he thought were Al Qaeda terrorists plotting to bomb the capital’s subways.

    It was really the FBI stringing him along, the feds say.

    Farooque Ahmed, 34, a computer engineer who lives with his wife and baby in suburban Virginia, was accused of making sketches and surveillance videos of busy subway stops near the Pentagon and tourist-packed Arlington Cemetery.

    The stations Ahmed helped case are popular with Defense Department workers. He thought the stations would be blown up sometime next year, the indictment says.

    His goal was “killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said. “It’s chilling.”

    The feds said straphangers were never in any danger.

    Much like the four men convicted this month of plotting to attack a Bronx synagogue, Ahmed was stung by an undercover FBI operation and never met any real terrorists.

    The only thing that’s chilling about this is that the FBI is getting away with this kind cynical fishing expedition.

  3. FBI sued over slaying of Detroit imam
    The family of Detroit mosque leader Luqman Abdullah filed a lawsuit against FBI agents in October, saying his rights were violated when he was gunned down during a raid. Imam Abdullah was killed when agents tried to arrest him at a Dearborn warehouse in 2009. He and his allies were accused of dealing stolen goods in an FBI sting operation.

    The suit filed Oct. 26 in US District Court in Detroit accuses the FBI of using excessive force in Abdullah’s death. Plaintiffs alleges an unarmed Abdullah was shot 30 times as he tried to protect himself from a police dog. The FBI has defended the agents’ actions, saying Abdullah was armed and resisted arrest.

    The Michigan attorney general said the shooting was justified. The US Justice Department’s civil rights division also found no wrongdoing. The FBI declined to comment on the suit. Abdullah was married and had 10 children. (Detroit Free Press, Oct. 31; AP, Oct. 30)