Trevor Aaronson has written a timely new book. It’s called The Terror Factory: Inside The FBI’s Manufactured War On Terrorism. (I would love to read it.) In a recent interview with Salon, when asked to respond to law enforcement claims that “foiled attacks prove that they are saving American lives,”, the author said this:
“I’d say that the majority of the foiled attacks that they cite are really only foiled attacks because the FBI made the attack possible, and most of the people who are caught in these so-called foiled attacks are caught through sting operations that use either an undercover FBI agent or informant posing as some sort of Al-Qaeda operative.
In all of these cases, the defendants, or the would-be terrorists, are people who at best have a vague idea that they want to commit some sort of violent act or some sort of act of terrorism but have no means on their own. They don’t have weapons. They don’t have connections with any international terrorist groups.
In many cases they’re mentally ill or they’re economically desperate. An undercover informant or agent posing as an Al-Qaeda operative gives them everything they need… gives them the transportation, gives them the money if they need it, and then gives them the bomb and even the idea for the terrorist attack. And then when that person pushes a button to detonate the bomb that they believe will explode—a bomb that was provided to them in whole by the FBI—agents rush in, arrest them and charge them with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and then parade that person out to the public saying, ‘Look at us. We caught a terrorist. This is us keeping you safe.’
If you look at the record of prosecutions in the decade after 911, there has yet to be a case of some Al-Qaeda operative providing the means for a wannabe terrorist to do an act of terrorism. It’s only the FBI that’s providing the means through these sting operations.”
Aaronson was talking about the FBI’s dubious arrests of many vulnerable, impressionable and ultimately unsuspecting Muslims but he could’ve easily been talking about John Nuttall and Amanda Korody.
Earlier this month, the RCMP announced they had arrested the duo who were allegedly plotting to blow up the British Columbia Legislature on Canada Day. They claimed they were going to achieve this with homemade bombs. The Mounties helpfully provided photos of these supposed weapons of mass destruction during their July 1st press conference.
The busts were a shock for many Canadians but never more so than for the people who actually know Nuttall and Korody. The former, a 38-year-old aspiring musician/recovering drug addict with an admitted criminal history, is described as having “the mentality of a 16-year-old” and the latter, his late-twentysomething girlfriend, as being “impressionable” and “just basically always trying to find or trying to assume some type of identity that would give her some kind of feeling of a purpose or some kind of a place in the world.”
In other words, not enormous threats to national security. But according to the RCMP, who trumpeted their arrests as a Very Big Deal, they were sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s violent philosophy and therefore, are now facing serious criminal charges.
However, even before the Crown begins to present its case against them in court, there are immediate red flags. According to The Globe & Mail, the couple were closely observed as part of a five-month investigation based on a supposed tip by CSIS, Canada’s CIA. That leads to an obvious two-part question: why was Canada’s national intelligence agency spying on two of its own citizens and why did they think they were worth closer scrutiny?
And then, there’s this. Daryl Nelson told the CBC that he used to play paintball with Nuttall, his best friend. But that all came to an end when he started hanging out with 3 or 4 Muslim “brothers” who attended mosque with him (he was later kicked out) and were regular fixtures at his basement apartment he shared with Korody. “One of them employed him at a furniture store apparently, got him delivering packages,” Nelson said.
In his Salon interview, Aaronson talked about American Derek Shareef, a “down on his luck” video store clerk whose recent conversion to Islam so offended his own family he ended up living in his “broken down” car. For some reason, the FBI decided to implicate him in a sting. An informant, “a convicted drug dealer”, befriended Shareef, offered him a place to stay and then tried to get him worked up about America’s numerous wars in the Middle East.
“Derek at some point says, ‘I want to do something about this. I want to kill a judge.’ The informant says, ‘Okay, which judge?’
Of course, Derek couldn’t name the name of any judges and so the informant then gets Derek involved in a more manageable plot. He suggests that they go attack a shopping mall on Christmas Eve. For whatever reason, as in a lot of these plots, Derek agrees that he wants to do that, but the problem for the FBI informant and the FBI agent in this case was that Derek didn’t have any money.”
So, the FBI decided to “introduce Derek to an arms dealer who can provide grenades and Derek, in turn, has these two ratty, old stereo speakers, which are the only thing he has of earthly value and the informant tells Derek, ‘I think if you bring your stereo speakers to an arms dealer, he’ll just say, OK, fair trade and here’s four grenades.'”
The arms dealer was, of course, an undercover FBI agent. Once this absurd trade was completed, “Agents rush in, arrest Derek and charge him with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, and he’s ultimately serving 17 years in prison.”
Back to the B.C. case. What are the chances these “3 or 4 Muslim brothers” were either undercover agents or paid informants purposefully befriending a deeply troubled, unemployed drug addict who isn’t exactly a neat freak? What are the chances any or all of them got a man with a history of cocaine abuse aggravated about all things Middle Eastern? What are the chances they suggested he and his “impressionable” girlfriend bomb the B.C. Legislature? And because the couple aren’t exactly rolling in dough, what are the chances these “brothers” supplied the materials to make these supposed bombs in order to carry out said plot?
Like Shareef, Nuttall and Korody don’t have any real affiliations with Al Qaeda. The RCMP admitted as much in their press conference. And based on their sad histories, they don’t seem to have any real reason to want to bomb anybody. When one person is trying to kick drugs & play music while the other is looking for an identity, and neither of them are particularly wealthy, is there any time and energy left for violent political rage? Furthermore, “these devices were completely under our control, they were inert and at no time represented a threat to public safety.” Translation: “these devices” weren’t even real bombs.
The problem with this case, like a lot of the sting operations Arronson talked about in his Salon interview, is that people are understandably not sympathetic to those who are accused of wanting to commit mass murder which is what the FBI and the RCMP are counting on to get convictions. But if folks could just open their eyes to see the accused in these cases are unhealthy, powerless people who are being taking advantage of by overzealous law enforcement agents who are either looking to profit and/or get an image boost, perhaps real justice might still exist.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, July 14, 2013