Entrapment/Manufactured Charges/Agent Provocateurs Prosecutions

  • Man charged in Kansas bomb plot called strange, troubled

    Source: Associated Press. John T. Booker Jr., e 20-year-old Topeka resident told a confidante who was in fact an FBI informant six months ago that he wasn’t liked at his mosque because he expressed support for the terrorist group al-Qaida — views that would have gotten him barred, according to the imam. The cleric said the FBI brought Booker to the mosque last year, said he had a mental health disorder and sought counseling to turn him from views behind Facebook postings about plans to die in a jihad. Even amid the counseling, Booker was in contact with two FBI informants portraying Islamic State group sympathizers, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. Authorities said Booker was arrested Friday trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside Fort Riley, about 70 miles west of Topeka.

     
  • Two women in Queens are charged with a bomb plot

    Source: The New York Times. Two women living in Queens have been charged with planning to build a bomb, in a plot revealed by a monthslong undercover investigation that found the women had discussed the merits of various types of bombs and had obtained four propane gas tanks. The women, Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, who until recently were roommates in Queens, were named in a complaint unsealed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, where they appeared Thursday afternoon. During the inquiry, investigators deployed an undercover officer, who appeared to play a significant role in helping the women with the plan, according to government documents. The officer appeared to become a friend, and fellow plotter, according to the complaint.

     
  • The Sting: How the FBI created a terrorist

    Source: The Intercept. Sami Osmakac was the target of an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting that involved a paid informant, as well as FBI agents and support staff working on the setup for more than three months. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. The bureau also gave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate, and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him to go. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial. He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.

     
  • Boston Marathon bomb trial: FBI agent mistakes Grozny for Mecca in Twitter photo

    Source: The Guardian (3/10). Sparks flew in a federal courtroom in Boston on Tuesday in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the younger and only survivor of two brothers accused of perpetrating the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing – as the testimony of an FBI agent and witness for the prosecution collapsed under cross-examination by the defence. Tsarnaev’s defence attorney Miriam Conrad surgically deconstructed testimony given late on Monday by an FBI agent that looked at Tsarnaev’s Twitter accounts – and embarrassed the FBI by showing them to have misidentified a picture of a mosque in Grozny, Chechnya, as the Muslim holy site of Mecca. The exposure of that mistake was just part of a long morning of embarrassment for the FBI, as Conrad poked gaping holes in their investigation into Tsarnaev’s online persona. Kimball was forced to admit that he did not know that several of the tweets the prosecution had highlighted yesterday – to damning effect – as pointing towards Tsarnaev’s radicalisation and violence were actually lyrics from pop songs.

     
  • 3 Brooklyn men accused of plot to aid ISIS’ fight

    Source: The New York Times. Two young men living in Brooklyn were arrested on Wednesday and charged with plotting to travel thousands of miles to fight under the banner of the Islamic State, the terrorist organization that has seized a wide expanse of Syria and Iraq. A third Brooklyn man was charged with helping organize and fund their activities. The case against the three men relies in part on a confidential informant paid by the government, court documents show. Defense lawyers have criticized the government’s use of informers in similar cases, saying they may lure targets into making extreme plans or statements. And in some cases, the threat has turned out to be overstated.

     
  • Plot foiled? Sundance doc lifts lid on FBI stings

    Source: Daily Mail. The type of news item is all too familiar: US authorities have foiled a plot to blow up an airliner, or bomb the Capitol, or kidnap the president. Something along those lines. But how do we know there really was a plot? That’s essentially the question behind a documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week which gained unprecedented access to a real-time FBI counter-terrorism “sting” — and found some disturbing answers. The documentary tells the real story of “Shariff,” a 63-year-old informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who is tasked with monitoring a Muslim convert, Khalifah al-Akili, in Pittsburgh.The FBI wants him to assess Akili’s interest in attending a terrorist training camp abroad. We see “Shariff” — real name Saeed Torres, a former black revolutionary turned school canteen cook, and practising Muslim — as he befriends Akili through a local mosque. The unprecedented part? The FBI doesn’t know its informant has agreed to be filmed for the documentary.

     
  • Counter-terrorism is supposed to let us live without fear. Instead, it’s creating more of it

    Source: The Guardian. People think that catching terrorists is just a matter of finding them – but, just as often, terrorists are created by the people doing the chase. Since 9/11, as Human Rights Watch and others have documented, the FBI has routinely used paid informants not to capture existing terrorists, but to cultivate them. Through elaborate sting operations, informants are directed to spend months – sometimes years – building relationships with targets, stoking their anger and offering ideas and incentives that encourage them to engage in terrorist activity. And the moment a target takes a decisive step forward, crossing the line from aspirational to operational, the FBI swoops in to arrest him.

     
  • Lawyer for former Australian Guantanamo detainee says U.S. agrees he is innocent

    Source: Reuters. The United States has agreed that Australian David Hicks, jailed on terrorism charges for five years at Guantanamo, is innocent, his lawyer said on Friday. Hicks pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing “material support for terrorism” but his legal team claimed that he did so under duress and filed an appeal in late 2013. Lawyer Stephen Kenny said the legal team arguing the appeal has been told the U.S. government did not dispute Hicks’ innocence and also admitted that his conviction was not correct.Kenny said he expected to hear within a month whether the Court of Military Commission Review in Washington would quash his conviction.

     
  • Informant role raises questions over thwarted Capitol Hill attack plot

    Source: Aljazeera America. A plot by an alleged Islamic State sympathizer to attack the U.S. Capitol with pipe bombs and automatic rifles may sound dramatic, but the FBI hastened to reassure the American public after the Jan. 14 arrest that it had never been in any real peril. That’s because the FBI had been monitoring 20-year-old suspect Christopher Cornell from the very outset of the plot — a revelation designed to reassure anxious citizens, but which also raised the perennial question of entrapment that faces law enforcement when undercover personnel or informants become involved in a criminal conspiracy. Cornell’s parents certainly believe their son was incapable of drawing up the attack plan and assembling the requisite logistics on his own; they allege their son had been set up by the FBI.

     
  • Portland terrorism trial: ‘This is bad … Mohamed’s been arrested,’ parents recall

    Source: Oregon Live. Osman Barre, meanwhile, had phoned the FBI. He told agents that brainwashed Somali kids were flying overseas, and he wanted the bureau’s help. He wanted agents to prevent his boy from getting on a plane. The agents instead asked him questions about terrorism, which struck a nerve. Osman Barre told the agents he had nothing to hide and that he was grateful to have been given refuge in the U.S. after fleeing the civil war in Somalia. The defense called its first expert witness, Georgetown psychology professor Fathali Moghaddam. He testified that two undercover agents, posing as terrorists to befriend Mohamud in the FBI sting, appeared to have carefully inveigled their way into his life, isolating him from his friends and family and becoming his primary support network.