Lights, Camera -- Entrapment! Homeland Security Theater in Portland (William Norman Grigg)
Tuesday January 8th, 2013
Osman Barre, a Somali-born software engineer living in Portland, Oregon, was concerned that his teenage son Mohamed Osman Mohamud was being radicalized by exposure to jihadist literature. Barre expressed his concerns to the FBI, which quite helpfully arranged for two of its “terrorism facilitators” to take charge of the 18-year-old’s indoctrination. As a result, Mohamud, now 21 years old, is on trial for involvement in a terrorism “plot” that was entirely scripted and controlled by the FBI.
Mohamud was born in Somalia shortly before the U.S. invaded that country as part of a UN-mandated mission to impose a central government on that anfractuous tribal culture. That mission disintegrated in 1994 after it became clear that the Somalis weren’t interested in living under a UN-designed government. Thirteen years later, the administration of George W. Bush resumed the assault on Somalia by arranging for Ethiopian to invade and occupy the country. Since then, Washington has continued its war against Somalia, which involves the use of troops from a coalition of regional proxies and drone strikes against “suspected militants.”
Like many other native Somalis, Mohamud is aware of the violence being waged against his homeland – and other Muslim countries – by Washington. As a teenager he expressed an interest in traveling to Saudi Arabia, immersing himself in the study of Islam, and then enlisting in a defensive jihad in Afghanistan or Yemen.
By the time his father contacted the FBI in 2009, Mohamud had struck up an e-mail correspondence with militants abroad, and had written essays on physical fitness for jihad-oriented online publications. He had also made plans to work in Alaska in order to raise funds for his anticipated travels abroad.
According to the criminal complaint filed after his arrest, Mohamud attempted to board a flight to Kodiak, Alaska at Portland International Airport on June 14, 2010, but was detained at the gate and questioned by FBI agents. Not aware that he had been under FBI surveillance for several months, Mohamud was open about his plans. He said that he had found a fishing job, and that he intended to travel to Yemen if he could raise the money and obtain a visa.
The ingenuous candor displayed by Mohamud in dealing with the FBI makes it difficult to believe that he was an aspiring terrorist. The purpose of the airport interview was not to determine if the recent high school graduate was a criminal, but rather to assess his suitability as a subject for the FBI’s radicalization program.
A little more than a week after the FBI had questioned Mohamud, the Bureau dispatched two members of its traveling Homeland Security Theater Troupe to act as “terrorism facilitators.” The FBI’s terrorist recruitment program is an atypically efficient government enterprise: In the case of Mohamed Mohamud it took the agency five months to transform a misguided but not criminally inclined teenager into a fully realized jihadist.
The indoctrination and manipulation of Mohamud followed the familiar script.
The FBI’s undercover operatives had lengthy conversations intended to identify and accentuate the subject’s grievances, all of which focused on the U.S. government’s bloody aggression against Muslims living abroad. They enticed the impressionable youngster by playing to his religious idealism, his outrage over the violence committed against his fellow Muslims, and his adolescent desire to prove his worthiness and valor. Then they presented him with an opportunity to become “operational” by conducting a large-scale terrorist attack against Portland’s municipal Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving – an event that would attract a large and vulnerable crowd.
As one of the FBI’s terrorism tutors discussed the attack, he mentioned that “there’s gonna be a lot of children there.” Mohamud replied that the bombing would make Americans understand what it’s like “to be attacked in their own element with their families celebrating the holidays,” and that such a horrifying incident might prompt them “to refrain from killing our children, women…. [I]t’s not fair they should do that to people and not [be] feeling it.”
This admittedly horrifying sentiment differs little from the opinions expressed by Americans who treated the carnage inflicted by their government against Afghan and Iraqi populations as “payback” for the 9/11 atrocity.
Mohamud reiterated that view in a propaganda video staged by the FBI’s “terrorism facilitators” just before the end of the sting operation:
“This is a message … to those who have wronged themselves and the rights of others. [For] the Americans and others. A dark day is coming your way….. As your soldiers target our civilians, we will not help you to do so. Did you think that you could invade a Muslim land, and we would not invade you?”
The operation ended as FBI-scripted melodramas of this kind almost always do – with the patsy being arrested after trying to detonate a phony bomb, and the local Special Agent in Charge issuing a self-exalting press release boasting that the agency had heroically thwarted its own terrorist “plot.”
It’s important to recognize, once again, that prior to his contact with the FBI, Mohamud had never expressed any interest in staging a terrorist attack in the United States, or in attacking civilians anywhere. Every detail of the supposed bombing plot was dictated by the FBI’s provocateurs.
The Feds insist that Mohamud had been given repeated opportunities to withdraw from the plot. But once Mohamud had earned the Bureau’s malignant attention, his fate was sealed: He would either become a patsy in a bogus plot or an informant on the agency’s behalf. On previous performance there’s no reason to believe that the FBI would be willing to walk away from a young Muslim man who had become the target of one of the agency’s terrorism campaigns.
In at least one case, the Feds have actually attempted to prosecute Muslims who refused to take the bait when they were approached by an FBI provocateur. Afghan immigrant Ahmadullah Sais Niazi was arrested on terrorism-related charges in 2009 after he complained that an odd fellow calling himself Farouk Aziz had tried to recruit him as a terrorist.
Aziz was actually a petty criminal-turned-informant named Craig Monteilh, who was part of an FBI initiative called “Operation Flex” that targeted Muslims in California’s Orange County.
As Montielh would later recount in a lawsuit he filed against the Bureau, the FBI recruited him “to infiltrate and spy on the activities of the members of the [Irvine] Mosque in an effort to uncover potential terrorists and plots against the Government. He was instructed by his handlers to act in a manner that suggested that he was a terrorist.... His actions made many of the members of the Mosque uncomfortable and the Attorney for the Mosque … contacted him in an effort to get him to stop attending regular prayers." (Emphasis added.)
While driving to a Friday night worship service in June 2007, Montielh offered Niazi and another member of the mosque an opportunity to become “operational.” The offended Muslims went to Hussan Ayloush, director of the Southern California chapter of CAIR, to express concerns that the fellow they knew as Aziz had “gone crazy or is about to do something – and they would be considered accomplices since they knew him.”
Ayloush contacted J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant FBI Director in Los Angeles, to “report a possible terrorist – a white convert in Irvine.”
“Okay – thanks for letting us know,” Tidwell replied – and then hung up.
Two Special Agents were sent to interview Niazi and others who had met with Monteilh. This wasn’t to learn about the details of a “plot” that the FBI controlled, of course, but to find out how badly their provocateur had been compromised – and to determine which of the innocent targets might be blackmailed into becoming an informant.
It was discovered that Niazi was distantly related to an Afghan figure with an indirect and trivial connection to the Taliban. The Feds eagerly seized on this trivial “offense” by threatening to charge the young man with “perjury” because he had not mentioned that attenuated relationship in his immigration paperwork.
Ironically, in 2009 Montielh – who spent some time in prison for fraud – rescued Niazi by filing his lawsuit against the FBI, which laid bare the corrupt and criminal tactics used by the Bureau in targeting the Irvine-area Muslim population. The former snitch’s change of heart proved to be Niazi’s salvation: The terrified and disillusioned refugee was told that if he didn’t cooperate with the Feds, he faced 30 years in prison.
That’s how the FBI treats Muslims who do what is described as their civic duty by reporting suspected terrorist who are on the federal payroll. And it’s reasonable to expect that something similar would have happened to Mohamud had he told the FBI’s “terrorism facilitators” to go to hell.
Attorney General Eric Holder claims that Mohamud "chose at every step to continue" with the bombing plot orchestrated by the Feds. But this happened after the FBI had cut off his access to a legitimate job in Alaska by putting him on a no-fly list.
Dr. Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who interviewed Mohamud extensively following his arrest, has testified that being forbidden to travel to Alaska was a “pivot point” in the young man’s life. He had wanted to “make a lot of money,” and when that opportunity was foreclosed the young man became severely depressed.
“Prior to his meeting” with the FBI’s terrorism recruiters, Sageman concluded, Mohamud “had a low probability of turning to violence.”
Rather than leaving the teenager alone, or – dare we imagine – warning him against resorting to violent crime, the FBI identified him as a troubled young man who was alienated from his father (“I have been betrayed by my family,” he lamented in an early conversation with an FBI informant) and burdened with a useful sense of grievance. So they isolated him, indoctrinated him, gave him thousands of dollars in cash, and then deployed him against the civilian population in Portland.
While it was true that – unlike its murderous debacles in Oklahoma City and the first World Trade Center attack -- the bomb rigged up by the FBI didn’t go off, the Bureau’s scripted plot was a successful terrorist operation: It generated public fears that led to a desired change in policy.
In 2005, the City of Portland quite sensibly withdrew from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, an entity that apparently exists for the sole purpose of recruiting credulous people to take part in manufactured terrorism plots. The Bureau ardently desired to demonstrate the supposed need to reinstate the Portland-area JTTF.
By busting its own manufactured terrorist plot in Portland, the FBI was able to demonstrate its purported indispensability. Less than a week after Mohamud was arrested, FBI commissar Arthur Balizan -- who had orchestrated the ersatz bombing plot -- joined Portland Mayor Sam Adams in a ground-breaking ceremony for the Bureau’s new $60 million field office. A few days later, Mayor Adams announced that he was reconsidering Portland’s involvement in the JTTF.
Significantly, the FBI – in violation of an existing agreement with the city government -- didn’t bother to inform Mayor Adams about the supposed threat to bomb the November 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony until after Mohamud’s arrest.
What this means is that the Bureau considered the Mayor to be a security risk, because he and other critics of the FBI in the municipal government were the chief targets of the operation. The Bureau’s objective was to make it politically impossible to resist the reinstatement of the Portland-area JTTF, so that the local branch of the American Cheka can continue its vital work of spying on political dissidents and turning troubled but redeemable people into fodder for the contemporary gulag.
William Norman Grigg [send him mail] publishes the Pro Libertate blog and hosts the Pro Libertate radio program.