[Marxism] Greenwald: The FBI thwarts its own Terror plot

Fred Feldman ffeldman at verizon.net
Thu Sep 29 18:15:37 MDT 2011

Glenn Greenwald
The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot
By Glenn Greenwald

The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade -- much 
of it valid -- but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting 
its own Terrorist plots.  Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist 
attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, 
persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, 
weapons and know-how they need to carry it out -- only to heroically 
jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the 
FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by 
the FBI.

Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman 
Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him 
to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, 
only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release 
boasting of its success.  In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled 
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a 
fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque 
Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to 
bomb the Washington Metro.  And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all 
from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen 
Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans 
and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and 
possibly the Capitol Building using "remote-controlled" model airplanes 
carrying explosives.

None of these cases entail the FBI's learning of an actual plot and then 
infiltrating it to stop it.  They all involve the FBI's purposely 
seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they 
think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced 
to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward 
doing so before the FBI targeted them.  Each time the FBI announces it 
has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical 
(new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new 
security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI's Terror 
plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police 
announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers' bags).   I 
have several observations and questions about these matters:

(1) The bulk of this latest FBI plot entailed attacks on military 
targets: the Pentagon, U.S. troops in Iraq, and possibly military 
bases.  The U.S. is -- as it has continuously announced to the world -- 
a Nation at War.  The Pentagon is the military headquarters for this 
war, and its troops abroad are the soldiers fighting it.  In what 
conceivable sense can attacks on those purely military and war targets 
be labeled "Terrorism" or even illegitimate?  The U.S. has continuously 
attacked exactly those kinds of targets in multiple nations around the 
world; it expressly tried to kill Saddam and Gadaffi in the wars against 
their countries (it even knowingly blew up an entire suburban apartment 
building to get Saddam, who wasn't actually there).   What possible 
definition of "Terrorism" excludes those attacks by the U.S. while 
including this proposed one on the Pentagon and other military targets 
(or, for that matter, Nidal Hasan's attack on Fort Hood where soldiers 
deploy to war zones)?

(2) With regard to the targeted building that is not purely a military 
target -- the Capitol Building -- is that a legitimate war target under 
the radically broad standards the U.S. and its allies have promulgated 
for themselves?  The American "shock and awe" assault on Baghdad 
destroyed "several government buildings and palaces built by Saddam 
Hussein"; on just the third day of that war, "U.S. bombs turn[ed] key 
government buildings in Baghdad into rubble."  In Libya, NATO repeatedly 
bombed non-military government buildings.  In Gaza, Israeli war planes 
targeted a police station filled with police recruits on the stated 
theory that a valid target "ranges from the strictly military 
institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the 
logistical funding and human resources" to Hamas.

Obviously, there is a wide range of views regarding the justifiability 
of each war, but isn't the U.S. Congress -- which funds, oversees, and 
regulates America's wars -- a legitimate war target under the 
(inadvisedly) broad definitions the U.S. and its allies have imposed 
when attacking others?  If the political leaders and even functionaries 
of other countries with which the U.S. is at war are legitimate targets, 
then doesn't that necessarily mean that Pentagon officials and, 
arguably, those in the Congress are as well?

(3) The irony that this plot featured "remote-controlled aircraft filled 
with plastic explosives" is too glaring to merit comment; the only 
question worth asking is whether the U.S. Government can sue Ferdaus for 
infringing its drone patents.  Glaring though that irony is, there is no 
shortage of expressions of disgust today, pondering what kind of 
dasterdly Terrorist monster does it take to want to attack buildings 
with remote-controlled mini-aircraft.

(4) Wouldn't the FBI's resources be better spent on detecting and 
breaking up actual Terrorist plots -- if there are any -- rather than 
manufacturing ones so that they can stop those?  Harboring hatred for 
the U.S. and wanting to harm it (or any country) is not actually a 
crime; at most, it's a Thought Crime.  It doesn't become a crime until 
steps are taken to attempt to transform that desire into reality.  There 
are millions and millions of people who at some point harbor a desire to 
impose violent harm on others who never do so: perhaps that's true of a 
majority of human beings.  Many of them will never act in the absence of 
the type of highly sophisticated, expert push of which the FBI is 
uniquely capable.  Is manufacturing criminals -- as opposed to finding 
and stopping actual criminals -- really a prudent law enforcement activity?

(5) Does the FBI devote any comparable resources to infiltrating 
non-Muslim communities in order to persuade and induce those extremists 
to become Terrorists so that they can arrest them?  Are they out in the 
anti-abortion world, or the world of radical Christianity, or right-wing 
anti-government radicals, trying to recruit them into manufactured 
Terrorist plots?

(6) As usual, most media coverage of the FBI's plots is as uncritical as 
it is sensationalistic.  The first paragraph of The New York Times 
article on this story described the plot as one "to blow up the Pentagon 
and the United States Capitol."  But the FBI's charging Affidavit 
(reproduced below) makes clear that Ferdaus' plan was to send a single 
model airplane (at most 1/10 the size of an actual U.S. jet) to the 
Capitol and two of them to the Pentagon, each packed with "5 pounds" of 
explosives (para. 70); the Capitol was to be attacked at its dome for 
"psychological effect" (para 34).  The U.S. routinely drops 500-pound or 
1,000-pound bombs from actual fighter jets; this plot -- even if it were 
carried out by someone other than a hapless loner with no experience and 
it worked perfectly -- could not remotely "blow up" the Pentagon or the 

(7) As is now found in almost every case of would-be Terrorist plots 
against the U.S. -- especially "homegrown Terrorists" -- the motive is 
unbridled fury over (and a desire to avenge) contintuous U.S violence 
against Muslim civilians.  Infused throughout the charging Affidavit 
here are such references to Ferdaus' motives, including his happiness 
over the prospect of killing U.S. troops in Iraq; his proclamation that 
he's "interested in traveling to Afghanistan" to aid insurgents; his 
statement that "he wanted to 'decapitate' the U.S. government's 
'military center' and to severely disrupt . . . the head and heart of 
the snake" (para 12) and to "essentially decapitate the entire empire" 
(para 34) (compare that language to how the U.S. described what it tried 
to do in Baghdad).  Using drones to decapitate the leadership and 
government infrastructure of a nation at war; I wonder where he got that 

At least according to the FBI, this is how Feradus replied when 
expressly asked why he wanted to attack the U.S.:

     Cause that would be a huge scare . . . the point is you want to 
scare them so they know not to mess with you . . . They have . . . . 
have killed from us, our innocents, our men, women and children, they 
are all enemies (para 19).

If the FBI's allegations are accurate, then it's clear Ferdaus has 
become hardened in his hatred; he talks about a willingness to kill 
American civilians because they have become part of the enemy, and 
claims that he fantasized about such attacks before the FBI informant 
spoke to him.

But whatever else is true,  it's simply unrealistic in the extreme to 
expect to run around for a full decade screaming WE ARE AT WAR!! -- and 
dropping bombs and attacking with drones and shooting up families in 
multiple Muslim countries (and occupying, interfering in and killing 
large numbers before that) -- and not produce many Rezwan Ferdauses.  In 
fact, the only surprising thing is that these seem to be so few of them 
actually willing and able to attack back that -- in order to justify 
this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror) -- the FBI has to 
search for ones they can recruit, convert, convince, fund, and direct to 
carry out plots.

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