NYC: another bogus ‘terrorism’ bust

You'd never know it from the sensationalist headlines, but the latest supposed near-miss, would-be, almost-was terrorist attack in New York City appears to be yet another highly specious case in which the "terrorist" plot turns out to be a creation of FBI infiltrators. All you have to do is actually read past the headlines, and this is immediately apparent. Let's take a look at the Daily News coverage from Oct. 17—with its typically alarmist lead, followed by implicit admissions that whole thing is almost certainly an FBI-generated scam…

Federal Reserve bomb plot busted: FBI arrests Al Qaeda wanna-be Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis for alleged terror plot
A bloodthirsty Al Qaeda wanna-be was busted Wednesday after setting out to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan with a bogus 1,000-pound bomb he built with the help of undercover FBI agents, officials said.

Wow, that was quick! Usually they wait until a few paragraphs in to spill the beans… No FBI agents, no bomb. Left to his own devices, would this guy have ever made a bomb? And the invocation of al-Qaeda is practically gratuitous, given that this guy was just a dreamer with no actual link to any organized terrorist group.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, a Bangladeshi national living in Jamaica, Queens, boasted he wanted to "destroy America" and professed admiration for "our beloved Sheikh Osama Bin Laden," federal authorities said.

In other words, another mixed-up,  barely post-adolescent angry Muslim whose chief sin is spouting a bunch of extremoid verbiage to an FBI infiltrator.

Nafis only opted for attacking the Federal Reserve after exploring an assassination attempt on President Obama, a source told the Daily News. He also scrapped a plan to bomb the New York Stock Exchange after saying he needed "to make sure that this building is gone," according to a criminal complaint.

"We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," he threatened in a videotape he intended to release after detonating what he thought was a massive bomb, authorities said.

As he recorded the video, Nafis covered his face, wore sunglasses and disguised his voice, the feds said in court records.

City top cop Raymond Kelly, whose detectives assisted the FBI in foiling Nafis’ doomsday mission, said the suspected terrorist came here with "the avowed purpose of committing some sort of jihad in the United States."

How do we know this?

Federal officials also revealed he was intent on assembling an Al Qaeda cell here to assist him in reaching his psychopathic goal.

Of which he had no prospect, given that all the contacts he thought were from al-Qaeda were from the FBI. And note how, after the wisely bet-hedging use of the word "alleged" in the headline, we are now treated to such shamelessly purple adjectives as "psychopathic."

Kelly scoffed at the assertion Nafis' murderous scheme was purely aspirational.

"That goes way past aspirational to me," the NYPD commissioner said of allegations Nafis obtained 50 20-pound bags of ammonium nitrate to build his car bomb.

A source described the intended bomb as similar to the one used in the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

Gee, now it actually starts to sound a little scary, no? But wait…

Nafis allegedly assembled the bomb early Wednesday at a Long Island warehouse, pouring what he thought were real explosives into bags and trash bins, then packing them in a Chevy Astro van, the complaint shows.

Did you catch that? "What he thought were real explosives…" In other words, the whole thing was under the control of the FBI from beginning to end. The actual threat this guy represented? Zero, probably.

While en route to his target, Nafis bragged to his accomplice — the FBI informant — that he had devised a "Plan B" to conduct a suicide bombing operation if cops thwarted his diabolical Federal Reserve attack.

Maybe what's "diabolical" is the manipulation of public fears with these incessant infiltrator-generated plots.

"Before entering Manhattan, Nafis armed the purported explosive device for detonation by turning on the cellular phone to be used in the detonator, installing the battery in the detonator and connecting the wires linking the detonator to the purported explosive materials," the criminal complaint details.

OK, except the AP account more accurately says "cellphone he believed was rigged as a detonator."  (Emphasis added.) The AP also states: "Authorities emphasized that the plot never posed an actual risk. There was no allegation that Nafis actually received training or direction from a real terrorist group." As if that weren't obvious.

Alright, that's enough. Now let's turn to the reaction from Nafis' family. From CBS New York:

"My son can't do it," said Quazi Ahsanullah, Nafis' father. "He is very gentle and devoted to his studies."

Ahsanullah said his son convinced him to send him to America to study, arguing that with a U.S. degree he had a better chance at success in Bangladesh.

"I spent all my savings to send him to America," he said.

Ahsanullah also called on the Bangladesh government to intervene and bring his son back to the country.

On Thursday, Nafis' grandmother expressed disbelief that he could have cooked up such a scheme. In fact, his family said he was a victim of a "racist conspiracy."

"It's simply not possible," said Nafis’ sister, Dr. Faria Bilkis. "We don't think it can be done by him. He must be victimized, because in Bangladesh, he was not like this. He was a good boy."

Just a few hours before his arrest, Nafis talked to his mother over Skype to update her on his plans, Bilkis said.

"My brother told my mother that he was doing well in studies in the U.S. and was transferring to a college in New York," said his sister.

Earlier Thursday, a relative living in Switzerland called to tell the family Nafis had been arrested.

"We woke up with this terrible news. We just can't believe it," she said.

Now, it is possible he deluded his parents about his intentions. But does it smell that way to you? Be honest. Seems more like the FBI manipulated a mixed-up kid, gratuitously destroying his life to score lurid headlines and a purely imaginary "blow against terrorism." Left to himself, he'd have probably outgrown his bin Laden infatuation in a matter of months and grown up to be a successful member of the petit-bourgoisie without ever harming anyone. 

There are three really maddening things about this sinister tendency in "law enforcement" (kind of hard not to use scare quotes here, sorry).

First, and most obviously: It keeps everybody (who isn't paying close attention) paranoid, thus loaning propaganda lubrication to what has now become the permanent war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, etc. (This is probably a part of the actual intent.) And on a related if probably less consciously intentional point, it boosts the whole level of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in New York and the USA.

Second: It erodes constitutional rights, especially the First and Fifth Amendments, setting a terrifyingly dangerous precedent for criminalization of speech and for the admissibility of self-incrimination. More generally, it erodes respect for the truth even as a concept, contributing to the cynical intellectual climate.

Third (and least importantly in the grand scale of things, but still maddeningly enough): It loans legitimacy to the conspiranoia set who have deluded themselves into thinking that al-Qaeda is a mere illusion created for provocation purposes by the US and/or Israeli intelligence services, who see a "false flag operation" every time a bomb goes off somewhere, and think it is terribly witty to refer to  "al-CIA-duh." These people know nothing and care less of the actual workings of the real al-Qaeda, whose principal concern is the struggle within Islam between secularism and fundamentalism, and only secondarily the jihad against the West. This conspiranoid mentality is an obstacle to progressives in places like New York extending any meaningful solidarity to heroic figures like Malala Yousafzai. And the conspiranoids are not likely to get any better as long as the FBI keeps conveniently providing fuel for their fantasies…

  1. Not so fast
    If you read the whole story from beginning to end, this whole thing was on Nafis’ initiative. It was not that the FBI nudged him into the plot; he started the plot and unfortunately for him, recruited an FBI informer into his circle. The FBI informant did the right thing, which was to play along until he could bust him. Which he did.

    This is not entrapment, in which a police agent encourages his victim to do something criminal. The ball was already rolling long before the FBI got into the act.

    Of course, this is the story we have so far. It could very well be wrong. But you owe it to your readers to post all the facts as we have them, and not the ones which fit into your preconceived schema.

    You consider the word “psychotic” for this guy’s plans to be purple prose. What word would you use for an act of premeditated mass murder?

    1. Please quote relevant text
      I have read several stories on this, and none of them included any indication that the plot originated on Nafis’ initiative. How could he have “recruited” the FBI agents, if they are the ones who presented themselves to him as al-Qaeda operatives? If you present text from a media account that supports your interpretation, we will reconsider ours. Not until.

      Gratuitous use of the adjective “psychopathic” is hardly the mark of objective journalism.

  2. NYPD “create and capture”
    Still think we’re paranoid, eh? Yeah, this one concerns the NYPD rather than the FBI—but same mentality. From AP, Oct. 23:

    Shamiur Rahman: NYPD Paid Me To ‘Bait’ Muslims Into Saying Things About Jihad, Terrorism
    NEW YORK — A paid informant for the New York Police Department’s intelligence unit was under orders to “bait” Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.

    Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called “create and capture.” He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.

    “We need you to pretend to be one of them,” Rahman recalled the police telling him. “It’s street theater.”

    Rahman said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was “detrimental to the Constitution.” After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police – and after he told the police that he had been contacted by the AP – he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, “Steve,” and his handler’s NYPD phone number was disconnected.

    Rahman’s account shows how the NYPD unleashed informants on Muslim neighborhoods, often without specific targets or criminal leads. Much of what Rahman said represents a tactic the NYPD has denied using.

    The AP corroborated Rahman’s account through arrest records and weeks of text messages between Rahman and his police handler. The AP also reviewed the photos Rahman sent to police. Friends confirmed Rahman was at certain events when he said he was there, and former NYPD officials, while not personally familiar with Rahman, said the tactics he described were used by informants.

    It doesn’t work in the vulgar manner imagined by the conspiranoids, but the old anarchist axiom holds true: “The state creates it own enemies.”

  3. Another specious terrorism case?
    From the NY Times, Aug. 9:

    A Bangladeshi man who tried to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank with a 1,000-pound bomb only to discover that the bomb was a fake and that he had been under constant federal surveillance was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday.

    The man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 22, came to the United States in January 2012 on a student visa with plans to carry out a terrorist attack, the authorities said. His attempts to find assistance on the Internet led him to an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Beginning in July 2012, the agent met repeatedly with the Mr. Nafis as Mr. Nafis developed his plot. Last October, the two assembled a bomb, which Mr. Nafis believed to be real, placed the explosive in a van and parked the van outside the bank in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Nafis tried several times to detonate the device using a remote-controlled trigger before agents arrested him.

    Oh? Did he really come to the US to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank? Was he really radicalized in Bangladesh? Or did the FBI “radicalize” him and put the bug in his ear?

    We’ll point out that the headline, “30-Year Sentence for Man Who Tried to Bomb Federal Reserve,” is slightly misleading—again indicating that there was an actual threat to the Federal Reserve. A more accurate head would have read “30-Year Sentence in FBI-Controlled Pantomime Plot on Federal Reserve.”