A history of abuses by the US Justice Department and the FBI targeting innocent Americans of Arab heritage and the Muslim religion raise serious questions about the role of these agencies and their true agendas. But the incidents suggest that the FBI is the largest real domestic terrorist operation in America
By Dezeray Lyn
The ascension into a ‘safer’ America is underway.
As the Islamic State (ISIS) advances, darkly consuming cultures and land mass, flash-spiraling regions in Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, et al into chaos and killing fields; within the star and striped confines of the United States, the FBI is quietly fighting the ‘war on terror’ here at home.
What began as my attendance at an event decrying the ugly, ever-present specter of Islamophobia in the US, turned into an eye opening interview with Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism and Executive Director of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Trevor affirmed the FBI’s prolific casting of the terrorist net over the Muslim community from sea to shining sea. “The FBI has arrested more than 175 people in aggressive undercover terrorism stings. …Remember the Washington Metro bombing plot? The New York subway plot? The guys who planned to blow up the Sears Tower? The teenager seeking to bomb a Portland Christmas tree lighting? Each of those plots, and dozens more across the nation, was led by an FBI asset.”
And terrorism is rife in the United States with deranged plots for acts of destruction on ‘American’ soil being hatched regularly. (Ground stolen through means of rabid terrorism from the indigenous native peoples of this land by European colonial settlers) Trevor makes the accurate assertion in his Ted Talk’s opening handful of words, “The FBI is responsible for more terrorism plots in the US than any other organization.”
My quest began.
I reached out to dedicated prisoner advocate and law student, Bailey Riley for answers. I poured over articles, over interviews, over transcripts of communication between FBI targets and paid informants- between paid informants and their FBI handlers. The fingers of my inquiries stretched as far as Turkey to Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian-American civil rights activist who was a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida. Sami Al-Arian was vilified by a villain state for ‘terrorism,’ in a case which TIME magazine referred to as “one of the Justice Department’s most embarrassing legal setbacks since 9/11.”
Attorney General John Ashcroft in a nationally televised news conference, declared that Dr. Al-Arian was one of the most dangerous people in the world. He was robbed blind of eleven years of life and liberty only to be released after the major contention of the state’s case against him, that he was funding terrorism, was disconnected from reality.
In the US, the term ‘funding terrorism’ is loosely tossed jargon as daily, the funnel stretching from its national treasury to Israel’s is in excess of ten million USD per day. Israel is the illegitimate settler state which has enacted and unleashed vile terrorist acts upon the indigenous Palestinian people on a daily basis since 1948. And although this fact is readily recognized by every human rights panel on the face of the planet, decried by millions and in violation of international law, in perfect fitting with the very definition of crimes against humanity and responsible for committing macabre war crimes, including chemical attacks on a captive, besieged populous- the US continues to healthily fund this terrorism.
And yet the court rooms to try the US government for the funding and execution of terrorism plots, as well as the jail cells to house them, have been as elusive as is justice in the cases of the numerous economically embattled, mentally and emotionally compromised targets that the FBI is entrapping. This occurs whilst they flood hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of sexual predators, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers and attempted murderer informants in their employ to hand-hold unwitting persons into the terrorism plots they then get to declare ‘foiled’ in subsequent press releases. It all works so well.
It worked well in the case of Sami Osmakac, “a mentally disturbed, financially unstable young man who was targeted by an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting in early 2012. The operation involved a paid informant who hired Osmakac for a job, when he was too broke to afford inert government weapons. The FBI provided the weapons seen in a so-called martyrdom video Osmakac filmed before he planned to deliver what he believed was a car bomb to a bar in Tampa, Florida.”
In a case so contrived that one might expect a voice from stage left calling for another take, Osmakac, a man who- for the money used to entrap him through paid informants, transportation, material support, weapons provisions and FBI agent paychecks, could have gotten the mental health treatment that he needed as well as been provided the social services necessary to empower him to lead a life that he- that all of us- deserve.
In leaked transcripts, desperately held under suppression orders by a federal judge and the FBI itself, we get a glimpse into the behind the scenes conversations of two special agents working the Osmakac case- a case during which they went to enormous lengths in order to get the monies Osmakac needed- and likely never would have been able to procure- in order to make a believable terror plot to legitimize a prosecution against him:
SPECIAL AGENT RICHARD WORMS: This poor guy, he gets almost 500 bucks in his hand tomorrow, and he says, “You need me for another week?” That’s a thousand bucks. Why wouldn’t he show up?
SPECIAL AGENT JACOB COLLINS: Well, right, but you’re a hard-working, logical human being.
SPECIAL AGENT RICHARD WORMS: No, I’m trying to think, if I’m a retarded fool who is hard up for money, and I don’t have a pot to [expletive] in, another $500 looks pretty good.
On Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, Trevor furthered the public’s cause for disgust, “Also caught on the informant’s wire was the FBI squad supervisor, Richard Worms, talking to his agents about discussions he was having with federal prosecutors, and he described how federal prosecutors wanted a “Hollywood ending” to their sting operation. What’s particularly troublesome about that terminology, I think, is that it clearly shows that the FBI was not only controlling every aspect of the sting operation, but they were controlling it in such a way that they wanted a splashy ending, a Hollywood ending, as he says.”
What was non-existent from the transcripts was any talk between these special agents about public safety or stopping terrorism or anything moving beyond juvenile commentary on a man they were knowingly walking into what was tantamount to the destruction of life as he knew it, into a lofty swath of his life being spent in prison. This was taken as lightly as they took paying a criminal tens of thousands of dollars to entrap him.
In my interview with Trevor, he pointed out the ominous psychological dynamic to these sting operations. “In these cases, the dynamic is similar. They have an older, almost father-figure who is targeting mostly recent converts to Islam with such a rudimentary understanding of the religion itself that they have actually fabricated quotes from the Quran and fake oaths to Al Qaeda” to justify the fledgling target’s committing of a terrorist act.
Thus Mr. Osmakac, a man with schizoaffective disorder, whom his family found sleeping on his bedroom floor stating to be having terrible dreams that he was burning in hell, sits in a jail cell- one of the 49 cases in which informants or FBI undercover operatives have led defendants in terrorism plots. Schizoaffective disorder carries traits such as impaired occupational and social functioning as well as paranoid thoughts and ideas. This was part of the mental landscape of Mr. Osmakac during the FBI’s system of mold-and-manipulate who is also one of the many who fit the FBI’s seeming prototype of what is ‘terrorist.’ Mentally unsound, financially dire, desperate and vulnerable.
Two truths duel, one is theirs and the other is one dictated by logic. The FBI’s assertion that the target may have committed acts of terrorism on their own one day, without mental or financial wherewithal is unknown albeit highly unlikely. What is known is that with monies used to release actual criminals from responsibility for deviant acts, unleashing them on the citizen population, they could have provided their targets with the mental health services that crumbled to ashes in the United States during the Reagan era where psychiatry was seen as being a communist tenet. And the mental health facilities, inept, cruel and ruinous as they were at the time, began to fall like dominoes, leaving those suffering with mental ‘illness’ to their own devices and essentially birthing a pipeline from mental health facility- to society – to prison. Mental health and prisoner advocacy exists but not with enough girth to end the victimization of those in our communities who need us the most.
Bailey Riley has been working incessantly in a legally supportive and compassionate advocacy role for a man entrapped in a similar FBI led terrorism case. Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif is a man with a history of mental disorders, hospitalization and suicide attempts, as was his codefendant at the time. They were led by child molester and rapist Robert Childs who was well paid and working on the inspiration of -to this day- unfulfilled FBI promises that his record would be cleared. (A promise that would ensure the public wouldn’t be alerted to the fact that they were in danger of sexual violence by Mr. Childs.) Bailey Riley tells such a similar story to that which Trevor tells in his books and talks, that the defendant’s names seem to be the only differences from case to case.
Childs, in need of money, showed up inexplicably at the Seattle Police Department and presented himself before Deputy DeJesus reporting that his longtime friend Abdul was allegedly a danger to society in some capacity. Coincidentally, his financial and legal situation soared safely into the black as a result, as an eager DeJesus, in text messages between himself and Mr. Childs was transcribed to have stated, “This is going to be good for the both of us.” There were no texts regarding the concern for safety of the public or the struggle against terrorism on ‘U.S. soil.’ Just a mutually beneficial business deal between two guys congratulating themselves before the die was cast on the plot which involved opening fire on “anyone in green” at a military recruitment center in Seattle; where Americans are coerced into joining a military which is an integral part of the terrorism that is rarely, if ever, indicted. Global superpower government sponsored, military executed terrorism on citizen populations across the face of the earth.
For Abdul’s part, he has stated his feelings of helplessness as “his Muslim brothers and sisters overseas are consistently bombed and terrorized by the US military.” Bailey, who is studying law “to have access to better assist people,” calls into question something that is screamingly absent from the mix. The lack of mental health advocacy for persons in legal detriment, specifically in cases where their mental acuity makes them vulnerable to provocateur FBI vultures preying on them. This is not to detract from the important and impassioned work that people like Bailey are doing day in, day out for those whose hope for the future reaches as many steps as the cement walls that encapsulate them can accommodate; it is a call for the drastic multiplication, and state supported multiplication of such efforts. Her take is enlightening, “It’s why love is revolutionary, its why people in America- where you are cultivated in a place of isolation and hate and greed- it’s really revolutionary for people to get beyond that.”
Bailey’s contention on Abdul’s case is a fiery spark of empathy in the cavernous absence of such within the ‘terror factory’ FBI; “In general, it goes much deeper than ‘mental illness.’ We need to question why people are harboring things- why do they want gasoline, why do they want weapons. Look at where they are coming from in the context of their situation. If we live in a culture that supports people’s wellbeing rather than competition and profit we would have a lot less to worry about in terms of hate crimes or terrorism or violence. Looking at why people want to become jihadists. The US deploys people overseas to further their hatred and racism and greed.
Muslims here are watching other Muslims being terrorized overseas… what else would you expect to come out of a culture of isolation, greed and hate? Abdul acted the only way he knew how to react, because he felt powerless.”
Powerless indeed. In the hands of the $90,000-dollars-richer child molester and third degree rapist Robert Childs and eager to benefit from the foiled terror plot, Deputy DeJesus, Abdul didn’t stand a chance.
I set up an interview via skype with Sami Al-Arian to get his take, just months after his deportation to Turkey after years of terrorism and captivity executed against him and his family by the US government, on the processes that he was subjected to; i.e. his arrest, interrogation, court procedures, imprisonment and isolation. We didn’t so much as get to breathe a word about entrapment as Al-Arian was more concerned with assisting a Palestinian prisoner, the 69 year old Palestinian activist Rashid AL Zugari (Abu Zuhair), AKA, RASHID MOHAMMED, who spent his (unjust) imprisonment time in the United States of America on the federal case of international terrorism for a second time in which he was accused while working in the Palestinian struggle movements during the seventies and eighties.
I’d asked Al-Arian’s advice on Mr. Rashid’s case after being contacted by his family. The elderly man who has now been held two years past the serving of a 25 year sentence for an alleged act of terror is being held at an immigration detention facility in violation of US law that states that a prisoner post-conviction, post sentence served, cannot be held for longer than six months if failed deportation efforts are not his fault. In this man’s case, no country will accept him. Thus the US would readily let him rot in detention than release him on work visa while awaiting deportation.
Al-Arian, essentially reaching through the bars that for many years caged him, to this Palestinian prisoner whom he’d never met, provided necessary advice to get action started on this particular case. In later communication, he lamented further on the FBI’s system of infiltration, entrapment and victimization of the Muslim community in post 9-11 America, “It’s extremely unfortunate that the FBI has been expending its unlimited resources by going after American Muslim activists or entrapping innocent American Muslims to give the impression that it’s fighting terrorism. But the evidence clearly demonstrates that since 9/11 the overwhelming number of the so called terrorism cases have either targeted political activists because of their political opinions, religious beliefs, or associations, or used entrapment against unsuspected American Muslims who would have never engaged in any criminal behavior if it was not for such problematic operations that were planned, financed, and executed by the U.S. government.”
The assertion he makes is supported by case after case where the government provides the plot, the means, and the opportunity for the ‘terrorist act’ which they then get to hold press conferences announcing that they have foiled. “No other community would have put up with this oppression for over a decade but for the sustained campaign of Islamophobia that has been largely orchestrated by Zionist and anti-Muslim hate groups, tolerated by the media, and encouraged by many politicians.”
A Senate oversight committee in 1975 found the FBI had 1,500 informants. In 1980, officials disclosed there were 2,800. Six years later, following the FBI’s push into drugs and organized crime, the number of bureau informants ballooned to 6,000, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1986. And according to the FBI, the number grew significantly after 9/11. In its fiscal year 2008 budget authorization request, the FBI disclosed that it had been working under a November 2004 presidential directive demanding an increase in “human source development and management,” and that it needed $12.7 million for a program to keep tabs on its spy network and create software to track and manage informants.
These are millions that could have been used by a more responsible entity to mend even a small portion of the damage the US government and military industrial complex have wreaked upon the earth, it is money that could be in use to more aptly fund those desperately fighting the ISIS entity that continues to devour them, it is money that could fill stomachs, that could provide healthcare and education. And at the end of the day, are we any safer? Has the FBI, in their quest for “Hollywood ending” manufactured terrorism plot ‘foiling’ really done anything other than victimize an already embattled community- a community embattled, in large part, with the financial and military assistance of the US government?
As for the actual ‘terrorists,’ those weary from the legal terrorism carried out with impunity by powerful nation states, who actually do introduce terrorism plots and execute terrorist acts, Chris Hedges article, “How the Brutalized Become Brutal” sheds needed illumination on the issue of embattled communities fighting back. “The horrific pictures of the beheading of American reporter James Foley, the images of executions of alleged collaborators in Gaza and the bullet-ridden bodies left behind in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are the end of a story, not the beginning. They are the result of years, at times decades, of the random violence, brutal repression and collective humiliation the United States has inflicted on others.
He goes on to illustrate the full context of emotional, social and physical war the US has unleashed, the part of the story that is edited out of the social consciousness, “Our terror is delivered to the wretched of the earth with industrial weapons. It is, to us, invisible. We do not stand over the decapitated and eviscerated bodies left behind on city and village streets by our missiles, drones and fighter jets. We do not listen to the wails and shrieks of parents embracing the shattered bodies of their children. We do not see the survivors of air attacks bury their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We are not conscious of the long night of collective humiliation, repression and powerlessness that characterizes existence in Israel’s occupied territories, Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not see the boiling anger that war and injustice turn into a cauldron of hate over time. We are not aware of the very natural lust for revenge against those who carry out or symbolize this oppression.”
It is long now time for the collective hand of community to smother the ability of agent provocateurs, informants and the like to prey on the flesh of the vulnerable. For those standing over the destruction, for those who hear the shrieks, for those survivors of government sponsored terrorism, we must make ourselves aware; an awareness that will break the mountains. For the world at odds with US imperialism, the long night is far from over.
- AHRC observes United Nations World Refugee Day (June 20) - June 20, 2021
- Arab News, FII Institute partner to shed light on the future of regional media industry - April 19, 2021
- American Human Rights Council Empowers Women - March 15, 2021