Most U.S. Terrorist Plots Are Hatched By The FBI

The New York Times points out that two-thirds of the most frightening post-9/11 plans for attacks on American soil were stings orchestrated by government agents. Typically, a bumbling, gullible, down on their luck “potential terrorist” with no history of violence is coaxed into some sort of involvement and then arrested, followed by news media trumpeting the “narrowly foiled plot”:

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 in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol 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.

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. But others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find. Take the Stinger missile defendant James Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer with a criminal record that included no violence or hate crime, despite his rants against Jews.

“Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment…

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    I totally believe this.

    A couple of years ago I read a book by Pete Early called “Comrade J”, about a high-profile Russian defector.  This defector was not exactly a regular guy–clearly you don’t get to be station chief for the NY office unless you’re pretty much an aristocrat born.  But his cynical pragmatism struck me as highly consistent with the universal ethos of everyone I’ve ever met from the bureaucratic world.

    Anyhow, this Russian guy’s beef was that the Russian intelligence services were a shambollic heap of crap because they spent more time justifying their budgets than providing actionable intelligence.  He recounted a number of stories where Russian officers made up informants and turned American spies out of whole cloth simply to embellish their resumes.  Also, he pointed out, none of these guys’ fellow officers would dare expose such a character–because they knew they’d have to resort to this tactic at some time or other of their own careers.

    I’m pretty sure the U.S. is just the same.  Only the languages change.

    • emperorreagan

      That’s been my sense of every single “thwarted” terror attack made public since 9-11 – US intelligence services basically scouting for people to set up.  How many of the people they’ve “busted” would ever have taken action were it not for intelligence agents putting fake bombs in their hands and telling them all they have to do is show up?

      This American Life did an episode on an FBI snitch named Brandon Darby – most accounts I’ve read of his actions in activist communities indicate he was looking to instigate violence from the day he showed up.  He served as an agent provocateur and landed a couple of people in jail.

  • charlieprimero

    I would would like to find *any* terrorist plot or attack that wasn’t orchestrated by the government.   You would probably need to go back to J. Edgar Hoover’s “anarchists” of the 1920’s.  Even the Symbionese Liberation Army in 70’s San Francisco was populated by State agents.

    • Alan Rockefeller

      9/11 is a terrorist conspiracy that was not orchestrated by the US government.

      • charlieprimero

         Really?  Wow.  Who orchestrated 9/11?

  • Investinourftre

    Most drugs in the US were transported here by the DEA or the CIA.  They have to justify their jobs or we would realize we are wasting a lot of money on these guys.

    • Alan Rockefeller

      Do you have any evidence to support this, or did you just make that up?

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    when it comes to terrorist plots
    no one can top the CIA
    they don’t just set people up to take the fall
    they blow people up
    period

  • Apathesis

    People going to jail for sick pranks:

    “Hey, let me befriend ya, forge a bond, then throw ya in prison after I convince you to commit a terrorist act.” 

    It’s just mean.  Shit.  Poor guy thought he was making a friend.  He wouldn’t have done it on his own.  He needed a push and you gave it before he asked.  Now his memory of a bonding moment has been sullied with the taint of treachery.

    The internet and real life do not seem to be safe anymore.  So much for free speech.  Hello, “progress.”

    • Apathesis

       I mean, you can’t even delete your comment after you notice grammatical errors you missed during the editing process.  LAME.

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