Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another al-FBI-duh Plot

Four men were arrested on charges linked with planning attacks against a Jewish synagogue and US warplanes based at a New York military base, prosecutors said.

The men, who according to a US congressman were all born in the United States, were arrested “on charges arising from a plot to detonate explosives near a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York,” according to the complaint filed at a White Plains, New York federal court.

The group, residing in New York, where Al-Qaeda extremists with hijacked commercial airliners destroyed the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, also “planned to shoot down military planes located at the New York Air National Guard Base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, New York, with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles,” officials said.
Gee, I wonder if an FBI informant played any role in this plot...
The suspects — identified as James Cromitie, also known as Abdul Rahman; David Williams, also known as Daoud or simply DL; Onta Williams, also known as Hamza; and Laguerre Payen, also known as Amin and Almondo — had been tracked for over a year, officials said.

In the major part of the plan, to obtain weapons for the attack, the defendants dealt with an FBI informant who provided the group “with an inactive missile and inert explosives.”

But there's more--
... it's not clear whether these men would have carried out any terror plot without encouragement and material support from an FBI informant. The New York Times reports that "a federal law enforcement official described the plot as "aspirational" -- meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives."

Indeed, the complaint paints a picture of a plot in which the FBI informant played a central role from the start. The informant met Cromitie, the apparent ringleader of the plot, last June at a Newburgh mosque. Cromitie told the informant that his parents had lived in Afghanistan, that he was upset about the US killing Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that he would like to do "something to America." Soon after, the informant falsely told Cromitie that he (the informant) was a member of the Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed. Cromitie said he too would like to join, in order to "do Jihad."

From there, the plot began to slowly take shape, with the informant playing a central role throughout. The informant helped to procure fake homemade bombs, and accompanied the men in obtaining a surface-to-air guided missile system and three IEDs. The informant also accompanied the men in buying handguns for use in the plot.

Group leader Cromitie a "pothead".

More on the group here. About the FBI Informant and the summary:
The Informant
- An upstate motel owner, identified by the New York Post as Shahed Hussain, 52, he became a government informant in 2002, after he was busted for helping immigrants cheat on drivers tests while working as a DMV translator. He was hoping to win leniency in his sentencing and avoid being deported to Pakistan. (It's unclear how the Post got Hussain's name. A spokeswoman for the US attorney's office told TPMmuckraker it was not released by the government).
- He started showing up at the Newburgh mosque, where all four men attended services, around 2007. An imam at the mosque said he invited other worshipers out for meals, and talked about Jihad. "There was just something fishy about him," said the imam, saying that some members "believed he was a government agent."
- The imam also said he had been told that Hussain offered at least one member of the congregation a substantial amount of money to join his "team."
- The owner of a local restaurant (either Denny's or Danny's -- reports differ) where the Newburgh Four would regularly eat rice and beans said that a few months ago, a fifth man starting showing up. He appeared to be of South Asian descent and would usually pay for the meal. The restaurant owner said he thought the man was the boss.
- This isn't his first sting operation. A few years ago, he posed as an arms dealer who had sold a shoulder-launched missile to be used to kill a Pakistani envoy. Two Albany men, Mohammed Hossain and Yassin Aref, helped him launder money from the supposed sale, and were convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

It's easy to laugh at this gang of goons -- and we've done our share of that. But, frankly, it's also hard not to feel some compassion for what looks like a group of struggling, credulous, under-educated men, existing on the fringes of society, who lacked the intelligence or willpower to avoid getting taken in by a government informant anxious to mitigate his own situation, and by their own vague understanding of radical Islam and the hole it might fill in their lives.

And as for what this might say about the threat of home-grown terror, it's almost reassuring that the biggest terror bust we've seen in a while has this sad-sack group at his center.

MI5 Blackmails British Muslims to be Agents

Recruiting terrorists:

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.

The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men's allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.

Three of the men say they were detained at foreign airports on the orders of MI5 after leaving Britain on family holidays last year.

After they were sent back to the UK, they were interviewed by MI5 officers who, they say, falsely accused them of links to Islamic extremism. On each occasion the agents said they would lift the travel restrictions and threat of detention in return for their co-operation. When the men refused some of them received what they say were intimidating phone calls and threats.

Two other Muslim men say they were approached by MI5 at their homes after police officers posed as postmen. Each of the five men, aged between 19 and 25, was warned that if he did not help the security services he would be considered a terror suspect. A sixth man was held by MI5 for three hours after returning from his honeymoon in Saudi Arabia. He too claims he was threatened with travel restrictions if he tried to leave the UK.

An agent who gave her name as Katherine is alleged to have made direct threats to Adydarus Elmi, a 25-year-old cinema worker from north London. In one telephone call she rang him at 7am to congratulate him on the birth of his baby girl. His wife was still seven months' pregnant and the couple had expressly told the hospital that they did not want to know the sex of their child.

Mr Elmi further alleges: "Katherine tried to threaten me by saying, and it still runs through my mind now: 'Remember, this won't be the last time we ever meet.' And then during our last conversation she explained: 'If you do not want anything to happen to your family you will co-operate.'"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Released Gitmo Detainees: al-CIA-duh Alert

Marcy Wheeler makes a good catch:
What are the chances that some, or even most, of these "recidivist" terrorists are actually men we recruited to spy for us? That is, they may have "returned to terrorism or militant activity," but did so with our blessing, with the understanding they'd send back information on what those militant groups were doing.

We do know the US and its allies were using those captured as spies of a sort. Just last weekend, for example, newspapers in the UK reported that an "Informant A" was used by the Brits and Morrocco to try to get Binyam Mohamed to "cooperate" with his captives.
Mohamed, 31, says that in September 2002, after his 'extraordinary rendition' to North Africa, an agent known only as Informant A told him the torture would stop if he gave intelligence to the British.

The offer from the agent, a UK citizen of Moroccan descent, suggests that British security forces had the power to end his treatment, Mohamed's lawyer claims.

Mohamed already knew the agent from London.


Clive Stafford Smith said: 'The Moroccans told Mr Mohamed that Informant A was working with the British Government and pressed Mr Mohamed to do the same if he wanted to end his torture.


Informant A is said to have fought alongside Osama Bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora.

He was said to have been captured and held at a U.S. base in Afghanistan in 2002, when he agreed to turn informant.

Terek Dergoul, held at the same base, said: 'One of the guards was saying, "We've got another 007".'
The language here is particularly interesting: the reference to Informant A as "another 007" and the suggestions that Mohamed should "work with the British Government." If Binyam Mohamed had agreed to spy for the Brits, would he have avoided all that horrible torture he suffered?

The possibility that these "recidivists" are actually our recruits spying on Islamic extremists for the Americans might explain a few details about the report. For example, the report only lists 29 of the 74 purported "recidivists" by name. It doesn't mention the others "because of national security and intelligence-gathering concerns." Sure, that might reflect a desire not to alert militants to our intelligence channels. It might also reflect a desire to protect our spies in the field.

And the possibility that at least some of these "recidivists" are now our spies might explain the hold-up on the release of the document.
This points out an important reason for torture: to turn captives into OUR terrorists!

Of course the Wheeler and the liberals at that blog never seem to make the obvious connection that 9/11 was (at minimum) done by "our" terrorists. I still can't figure whether most of these people are intel plants are just maddeningly dumb.

But in any case, here are the four main reasons I can figure for capturing foreigners and then torturing them:

1) to obtain false confessions to support whatever official story has been decided upon

2) to brainwash innocents into becoming terrorist-agents for us

3) to brainwash our terrorists to cover up what they have done for us

4) to anger captives into eventually taking up arms against the US (much like what happens when we bomb civilians-- innocents are angered into taking arms against the US)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pakistani President Says Osama a US Operative

While the headline is about whether Osama is dead or not (of course he isn't-- he can't be allowed to die!), the more notable thing is what Zardari says after stumbling around for a bit in this video. 36 seconds in: "We knew that he was your operator". Of course, David Gregory immediately changes the subject.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Smoking Gun

Via "Emptywheel":

I just happened to find Dougie Feith's responses to Questions for the Record the Senate Intelligence Committee asked him in 2003. They wanted to know how his little intelligence shop at DOD--the Policy Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG)--bridged the line between intelligence and policy.

He said his little intelligence shop helped formulate policy on:

  • DoD response to the presence in Iraq of the al-Qaida affiliated Ansar al-Islam terrorist group.
  • DoD response to the presence in Iraq of al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his CB W network.
  • Helping to formulate requirements for the debriefings of al-Qaida fighters detained at Guantanamo and Bagram.

"Helping to formulate requirements for the debriefings of al-Qaida fighters?!?!?!?!"


Errr... doesn't "debriefing" refer to guys on OUR SIDE????