Trawling For Terrorists

I suspect that there are tens of thousands in the U.S.: disaffected young men and women who like to see themselves as willing to kill for their beliefs, whatever those beliefs.

Most of them don't hold beliefs including violent jihad. They believe, instead, that abortion is murder, or that Barack Obama is a Muslim, or that America is controlled by a secret cabal or a thousand other things with varying levels of nuttiness.

The discontented always have been ripe for the provoking. All they need is a rabble-rouser to convince them that violent action is called for, and an opportunity to prove themselves. Where the discontented are Muslims, the federal government is more than happy to feed them as much rope as they can take. As here (Dane Schiller, Houston Chronicle):

[The search warrant affidavit] doesn't note why authorities noticed [Barry Bujol], but it says investigators relied heavily on surveillance, interviews and recordings of meetings between Bujol and the informant, who has worked with the FBI for six years.

In late 2009, the FBI brought the informant into the investigation.

Bujol went by the Arabic moniker of “Abu Abudah.”

The informant, who is not named, passed himself off as an al-Qaida agent.

According to court records, he convinced Bujol that he recruited holy warriors known as Mujahedeen.

Bujol is accused of having said he wanted to be “a means of victory” and get credit in the afterlife for his role in the war.

Bujol was told that as part of a test to join the team he would need to show he could operate covertly and run through a series of drop sites, secret locations where messages could be exchanged.

At one site in a park, Bujol supposedly reached into a hollowed rock to find two fake transportation worker identification cards issued by the U.S. government.

Bujol made a recording he intended to leave for his wife if he made it overseas. He never did; he was arrested trying to board a freighter.

I don't have any objection to the FBI running agents provocateurs against people who express an apparently sincere interest in breaking the law, as long as they don't go around entrapping people. If you believe the search warrant affidavit, Bujol went looking for the trouble that he found:

(Getting someone who wants to be a mujahid on the hook for attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization is like shooting fish in a barrel, sure, but where is it written that enforcement is fair?)

I am a little concerned that we hear about so few of these hapless-loser-tries-to-impress-agent arrests. With such a vast pool of disaffected young men and women, the FBI could, if it spread its net beyond jihad, be arresting a new hapless loser for supporting terrorism every day—just send out agents pretending to be recruiters for the violent wing of X, Y, or Z cause, and you'll be beating the misguided idealistic underachievers off with a stick. Hint: start here. Or here. Or here.

(The most pathetic comment on the Chronicle article:

After 9/11, I went to the local FBI office and submitted all my credit cards and IDs so that the FBI could certify that I was not involved in anything against the USA. Secrecy my big fat ass, why can't we have the same rules again?

Can you imagine the scene at the FBI office when this nutjob came in? "Hey, call the new guy: there's a visitor for him with information crucial to the war on terror."

On a darker note, only someone with something to hide makes such a big show of having nothing to hide.)


7 responses to “Trawling For Terrorists”

  1. If only this weren’t a part of my actual existence. I worry each day that the next one they snare will be one of my own. I have to catch my breath each time I hear about raids or arrests. When its time to give zakat, I wait to see if the charity of my choosing has been marked by the government as a terrorist organization. It ain’t easy being muslim – even a limited cultural one at that.

  2. I do have a problem with the FBI using agents provocateurs against people, especially since it’s done in a discriminatory manner (ie only to Muslims), is often aimed at those with no connections to terrorist groups – and sometimes no desire for any such connection – and can include huge inducements, such as $250,000, a BMW, and money for cancer treatments for one’s brother. (Those were only some of the inducements used in the Newburgh, New York case – see and The provocateur in that case, Shahed Hussain, was the same used in the Albany NY case against my client, Yassin Aref. Hussain is one of the sleaziest people to walk the earth, and he is well-matched by the case agent in the Newburgh case, SA Robert Fuller. Fuller was the one who had Canadian citizen Maher Arar snatched off a plane at JFK and rendered to Syria to be tortured. The Newburgh trial is starting this week in the federal courthouse in White Plains, NY.

    The Newburgh case is one of the worst because the defendants had no interest in terrorism and could have been set up to do absolutely anything, with enough bait dangled before them. But all of these entrapment cases are wrong.

  3. I don’t think its crazy at all. I always say we know they are listening. I don’t think I am paranoid and I continue to live my life, but with a father and uncles working in Afghanistan, I’d be a fool to think there was much I could hide. So, why not be an open book right at the beginning? Here, here’s who I am, now leave me alone.

    September 11, 2001 I had come home from Italy two days before. I was doing calendar call with the county court judge (I was the Duty DA) and when the judge’s secretary told us what had happened, the first words out of my mouth were “let the persecution of my people begin” I was not mistaken.

  4. I agree with you, Mark. I think there are a lot of people looking for some sort of meaning, or some importance to their lives that they don’t have, even if they’re not Muslim. The human potential for crazy is kind of amazing, actually.

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