Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FBI faking terrorist threats?

In an interesting piece on Alternet.org, Seth Freed Wessler asks, "Why are the Feds cultivating their own 'Homegrown Terrorists'?"

An intriguing question. I hadn't asked myself that question, but I had wondered that the thwarted terrorist attacks we've heard about seemed to involve young men duped into believing they were being recruited by Islamic terrorists. But none of them ever actually communicated with terrorists. Apparently none of them actually had any plans to commit terrorist acts until recruited by the FBI.

Mr. Wessler gives a brief recounting of the case of Antonio Martinez. Martinez converted to Islam, and was eventually approached on Facebook by the FBI, who set him up with (fake) explosives and a plan to use them. Martinez never had contact with any actual terrorists, and other than comments on Facebook saying he supported Jihad, wasn't looking for contacts. So what exactly made him a terrorist threat?

A former FBI agent who has been involved in the defense of persons arrested using these techniques claims that the majority of such cases are bogus - and even rely on hysteria more than hard evidence. In an interview on PBS's Frontline, former agent James Wedick lays out all the problems with the case against Hamid and Umer Hayat, a father and son convicted of planning a terrorist attack. Based on Wedick's interview and the FBI response given to Frontline, I tend to think Seth Wessler may be onto something.

Sitting here it's hard to be sure what's the truth. But it is interesting that in recent history the terrorists who were stopped were setup by the FBI, and the terrorists who almost succeeded were ignored by our intelligence community.