Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 22, 2009

Dossier on FBI entrapment in “war on terror”

Filed under: repression — louisproyect @ 3:16 pm

UPDATE

In an article that appears below (The New York Times, October 11, 2006, 2 Albany Men Are Convicted In Missile Sting) there is a reference to an FBI informant named Shahed Hussain. It turns out that he is the very same creep involved in the entrapment of the 4 men discussed in the opening paragraphs of this article. Today’s (5/23/09) NY Times reports:

And, it turns out, an entrapment defense failed in a case involving the informant in this week’s bomb plot investigation.

The informant was not identified in court papers unsealed on Wednesday in Manhattan. But according to a person briefed on the case, the informant is Shahed Hussain, the central prosecution witness in a 2004 federal sting focusing on a pizzeria owner and an imam at an Albany mosque.

Lawyers for those men argued that Mr. Hussain, who had posed as a wealthy Muslim radical, had entrapped their clients in an ultimately fictional plot to kill a Pakistani diplomat with a missile. But a federal jury convicted the two men, and they were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

***

For the past couple of days the major media have been all lathered up over the “plot” involving four ex-cons who were supposedly ready to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military aircraft with explosives and missiles supplied by a Jihadist group. It turned out that the explosives (fake) were supplied by the FBI as well as the suggestion to attack the synagogues in what has by now become a pattern of entrapment since 9/11. The arrests were obviously timed to help Obama push through his Bush-lite proposals to win the “war on terror” at the expense of our civil liberties.

The arrested men were not al Qaeda operatives but marginal and powerless figures with no capacity to act on their fantasies. After the “ringleader” posted a message to a bulletin board about how he would like to become a martyr in Afghanistan, he was contacted by an FBI informant who put the wheels in motion.

As is so often the case, the informant had a material interest in drawing the four men into the FBI orchestrated conspiracy. Today’s NY Times reported:

Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad, the imam at the mosque where the authorities say the confidential informant first encountered the men, said none of the men were active in the mosque. An assistant imam, Hamin Rashada, said Mr. Cromitie and Mr. Payen occasionally attended services.

Mr. Cromitie was there last June, and he met a stranger.

He had no way of knowing that the stranger’s path to the mosque began in 2002, when he was arrested on federal charges of identity theft. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, and became a confidential informant for the F.B.I. He began showing up at the mosque in Newburgh around 2007, Mr. Muhammad said.

The stranger’s behavior aroused the imam’s suspicions. He invited other worshipers to meals, and spoke of violence and jihad, so the imam said he steered clear of him.

”There was just something fishy about him,” Mr. Muhammad said. Members “believed he was a government agent.”

Mr. Muhammad said members of his congregation told him the man he believed was the informant offered at least one of them a substantial amount of money to join his “team.”

There is little doubt that the informant was paid handsomely for is dirty work.

It occurred to me that it would be worth assembling a dossier on all these dodgy arrests since September 11, 2001. I told my wife as I began work that being able to access Lexis-Nexis for free is a benefit of working at Columbia University that is worth more to me than health insurance or the retirement plan.

This might not be in complete chronological order but it is a fairly complete record of all the sordid stings and trumped up cases from the beginning of this dark night in history:

***

Daily News (New York), January 5, 2005 Wednesday
Arms Deal Suspect Gets Day in Court
By Adam Lisberg

A FEDERAL JURY got its first look yesterday at a man charged with trying to sell arms to terrorists in America – and at one of the shoulder-fired missiles he said could shoot passenger planes from American skies.

With the disarmed Igla SA-18 missile on a table in the Newark courtroom, a prosecutor said Hemant Lakhani tried to sell 200 of the weapons to an informant claiming to represent African terrorists operating in the U.S.

“The deal was arranged through a middleman – this man,” prosecutor Stuart Rabner said, pointing to the slight, gray-haired 69-year-old sitting at the defense table.

But Lakhani’s attorney said he was entrapped by federal agents so eager to make a terrorism case they invented a phony buyer and seller – and even arranged to bring the missile into the country.

Entrapment – that’s going to be the issue in the case,” lawyer Henry Klingeman told the jury. “The government came up with the idea to bring missiles into the United States. Mr. Lakhani did not do it.”

***

The Washington Post, September 17, 2002
Terror Arrests Baffle Steel Town;U.S.-Born Yemenis Gave Few Hints of Radicalism Before Trip to Pakistan
By Michael Powell, Washington Post Staff Writer

It’s the riddle for which few in this old company steel town have an answer: How did the six thoroughly American Arab boys wind up indicted as al Qaeda soldiers?

Yasein Taher was a star soccer player at Lackawanna High School, and Sahim Alwan was a chatty fellow who talked of Allah but also made the girls laugh. Shafal Mosed watched over his younger brothers with a paternal eye. They had many friends, black and white friends, and Alwan and Yahya Goba counseled young children over meals of barbecued chicken wings.

“They were very Westernized; they would club, they would drink, they would date women outside the community,” said Aliyah Ali, a young woman of Yemeni descent who grew up down the street from the men. “They got into religion more after they got married. But this is a mystery.”

FBI officials said that the Lackawanna men journeyed together to Pakistan and then to a terror training base in Afghanistan in May and June of 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks. There, the officials said, the men learned to fire rifles and pistols and heard a speech by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

But federal officials have not offered evidence that al Qaeda operatives were in touch with the Lackawanna men. Nor, federal officials say, do they believe these men were planning an imminent attack, here or overseas.

***

The New York Times, October 11, 2006
2 Albany Men Are Convicted In Missile Sting
By MICHAEL WILSON; Dennis Gaffney contributed reporting.

A federal jury on Tuesday convicted two Muslim immigrants of participating in a plot with a man who said he was helping plan a missile attack on a Pakistani diplomat in New York City in 2004.

The man to whom the immigrants were linked was actually an informant working with the F.B.I. in a sting operation against the two defendants, Yassin M. Aref, 36, an Iraqi refugee and the imam at an Albany mosque, and Mohammed M. Hossain, 51, a Bangladeshi immigrant and the owner of a pizzeria here. The gestation of the case, with the government’s informant ingratiating himself with the men and initiating all the conversations about a shoulder-fired rocket launcher, led to claims of entrapment from Mr. Hossain’s lawyers during the three-week trial in Federal District Court.

The case began when the undercover informant, Shahed Hussain, who used the name ”Malik,” introduced himself to Mr. Hossain at the Little Italy Pizzeria on Central Avenue in July 2003, bringing gifts for the restaurateur’s children, according to testimony. The two became friends, and the informant offered to lend Mr. Hossain $50,000 for improvements to the pizzeria. At later meetings, Mr. Hussain testified that he told Mr. Hossain that the money he was going to lend to him came from the sale of a missile launcher that would be used to kill a Pakistani diplomat in New York.

In reality, there never was a plot. In one meeting, captured on a video that was played at the trial, the informant showed Mr. Hossain a launcher. The restaurateur said he had only seen such a weapon on television, and he asked if it was legal, and the informant replied, ”What is legal in this world?”

***

The New York Times, August 6, 2004
Man Arrested in Chicago in Connection With Truck-Bomb Plot
By JO NAPOLITANO

Law enforcement officials on Thursday arrested a man who they say was plotting to blow up the Everett M. Dirksen Federal Building with a truck bomb containing ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the same material used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney here, said the man, Gale W. Nettles, 66, had acted alone and had no connection to international terrorism. He did not have fertilizer that could have resulted in an explosion, Mr. Fitzgerald said.

”Never did it come to a point where the building or the people here were in danger,” Mr. Fitzgerald said in a televised news conference. ”He was not involved with any terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”

Mr. Nettles, who Mr. Fitzgerald said was embittered at the federal courts after being convicted here of counterfeiting, told a fellow inmate in a Mississippi prison of his plot last fall. The inmate alerted law enforcement officials, leading to months of intense surveillance and a sting resulting in Mr. Nettles’s arrest.

In December 2003, just after he was released from prison, Mr. Nettles called a man he was told would supply him with the fertilizer, Mr. Fitzgerald said. The man was actually an undercover F.B.I. officer.

Mr. Fitzgerald said Mr. Nettles started counterfeiting again to finance his plan and sold some of his fake currency to an informant for the F.B.I. By the spring, Mr. Fitzgerald said, Mr. Nettles had asked the informant to put him in contact with a member of Al Qaeda or Hamas. He was soon introduced to yet another agent, this one posing as someone with ties to a terrorist organization.

***

The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2006
Calif. terror case weakens in court; Five Muslims were arrested in June. Now only two are on trial. Some see a pattern of big cases falling apart.
By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer

The FBI’s discovery last summer of an alleged al-Qaeda cell among the Pakistani immigrants in this sleepy farm town sent a shiver through California’s heartland.

Federal agents and surveillance aircraft swarmed Lodi in June after the arrests of five local Muslim men who the Justice Department said were poised to commit terrorist acts. Journalists surrounded the local mosque, seeking explanations for how radical Islam could take root in the conservative San Joaquin Valley.

This town of 62,000, known as the place where Credence Clearwater Revival sang about being stuck in 1969, became an unlikely jihadist hot spot.

The government’s case relies largely on the testimony of its star witness, a convenience-store manager who received $230,000 in FBI payments for infiltrating the Lodi mosque to target its conservative clerics. The informant, Naseem Khan, stunned the court when he testified that he had seen Osama bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, at the Lodi mosque in 1999. Experts say it is unlikely the terrorist was in America then.

The two Lodi imams who the FBI suggested were al-Qaeda’s conduits of instructions were never charged with terrorism. They and one of their sons chose deportation rather than fighting alleged visa violations.

“If they really were involved in any kind of terrorism, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country voluntarily,” said their attorney, Saad Ahmad.

***

The New York Times, May 16, 2006
Defendant Says Police Informer Pushed Him Into Bomb Plot
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM

A Pakistani immigrant accused of plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station in 2004 took the stand in his own defense yesterday and said he never wanted to carry out an attack until he met a paid police informer who treated him like a younger brother and inflamed his anger against the United States.

The defendant, Shahawar Matin Siraj, 23, told the jury in United States District Court in Brooklyn that the informer had shown him dozens of images, including pictures of prisoners being abused at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and a video of the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who died in his father’s arms in Gaza.

Mr. Siraj testified for about four hours under questioning by one of his lawyers, Khurrum B. Wahid. Later in the day, a prosecutor took over, throwing rapid-fire questions at Mr. Siraj about his earlier statements on suicide bombings and the United States. The cross-examination will continue today.

The defense has acknowledged that Mr. Siraj took part in a conspiracy. Mr. Wahid yesterday tried to bolster the defense argument that the plot was driven by the informer, Osama Eldawoody. He asked Mr. Siraj who he felt had been the leader of the conspiracy, which also included another young man who pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution.

”Basically, according to me, it came from Eldawoody,” Mr. Siraj said. ”He was the one who want to do these things.”

***

The New York Times, July 1, 2006
Two Views of Terror Suspects: Die-Hards or Dupes
By Christopher Drew and Eric Lichtblau

The seven men who were arrested here last week on terror charges were shown Friday on undercover videotapes solemnly reciting oaths of loyalty to Al Qaeda, repeating the words that an F.B.I. informant had given them to say.

The tapes, played at a federal court hearing by prosecutors, did not provide any evidence that the men had the money or firepower to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and federal buildings in five cities, as they are accused of conspiring to do, or that they had any actual ties to Al Qaeda.

But during her presentation, the prosecutor, Jacqueline M. Arango, disclosed other new details of the case, among them that the group’s leader, Narseal Batiste, had asked the undercover informant for rockets and semiautomatic rifles.

Lawyers for some of the men said in interviews this week that their clients knew little about Mr. Batiste’s plans to attack the Sears Tower. Some of the lawyers criticized the new evidence presented Friday as a sign that the government had largely concocted other parts of the case and had lured the men into doing more than they would have on their own.

”It’s clearly a case of entrapment,” said Nathan Clark, the lawyer for one of the defendants, Rotschild Augustine. Mr. Clark said the taped oath was ”induced by the government.”

The tapes, in fact, made clear the large role that the government informant had played in the case. In one tape, the informant recited what F.B.I. agents said was an authentic Qaeda oath, while the seven men sat on a sofa and chairs in a warehouse that the F.B.I. had wired with eavesdropping equipment. As the informant repeated the words for a second time, each defendant stood and stated his name before they all said in unison that they were committing themselves to the ”path of jihad.”

***

The Washington Post, July 9, 2006
Plot to Attack Transit Tunnels Is Foiled, FBI Says
By Spencer S. Hsu and Robin Wright, Washington Post Staff Writers

A terrorist plot to attack transit tunnels under New York’s Hudson River was broken up in its early planning stages, U.S. authorities said Friday, with three suspects arrested overseas, including a Lebanese man the FBI said was an al-Qaeda follower.

FBI assistant director for New York Mark J. Mershon said investigators had disrupted the plot before the suspects could come to the United States and begin to gather intelligence and explosives for the attack. He said there was no threat now to the PATH commuter lines, which carry tens of thousands of people between New York and New Jersey each day.

The FBI uncovered the plot last summer and intercepted e-mails and chat-room postings on Web sites used to recruit Islamic terrorists. U.S. authorities turned in April to Lebanese officials for help in tracking one of the suspects, Assem Hammoud. The 31-year-old man, who the FBI said was the group’s leader, was arrested in Beirut on April 27 and has confessed, officials said.

“This is a plot that would have involved martyrdom, explosives and certain of the tubes that connect New Jersey with Lower Manhattan,” Mershon said. He called the threat “the real deal.”

Hammoud was arrested before leaving for four months of training in Pakistan, and Lebanese investigators discovered details of a terrorist “project” on his computer that included a map “with a lot of details about New York,” Lebanon’s acting Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said in a telephone interview.

But authorities said there was no evidence that the plotters had taken any actions, such as buying explosives or sending money, and cast doubt on the feasibility of initial reports, which first appeared in the New York Daily News, that terrorists sought to flood Lower Manhattan and the Financial District by bombing tunnels.

***

Newsweek, May 21, 2007
The Threat in Our Midst
By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

The men who gathered inside the small Bronx apartment were tense, and they chatted nervously before the ceremony. The participants, among them a New York City musician and an emergency-room doctor from Florida, had allegedly gathered to meet a “brother” from Canada who called himself Ali. The brother had come with a message–from “Sheik Osama.”

“You are in the belly of the enemy,” the man from Canada warned, and cautioned his audience to be careful whom they spoke to. “The oppressors are everywhere.” Once it was clear they all understood, the jazz musician bent to his knees, clutched the visitor’s hand and took a solemn oath. He pledged to be “one of Islam’s soldiers … on the road to jihad.” The doctor allegedly did the same. Then they each embraced the oath giver, the final step in Al Qaeda’s sacred initiation ritual.

An audiotape of that extraordinary scene played in a federal courtroom last week as one of the initiates, Dr. Rafiq Sabir, a graduate of Columbia University Medical School, stood trial on federal charges that he provided material support to terrorists. What Sabir and the others didn’t know when they attended the ceremony two years ago was that the man administering the oath was not really a jihadist, but Ali Soufan, an undercover FBI agent who had spent the better part of his career hunting Qaeda operatives.

***

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 10, 2007
Details emerge in terror sting; An FBI affidavit tells how agents set up alleged plotters of an attack on Fort Dix. Many questions remain, however.
By George Anastasia; Inquirer Staff Writer

Two of the terror suspects arrested at an apartment complex in Cherry Hill thought they were meeting with a “gun dealer” who was going to sell them assault rifles they hoped to use in launching an attack on Fort Dix.

Instead, the FBI was waiting.

The sting operation at the Hampshire Houses, a multi-unit complex off Cooper Landing Road, was part of a coordinated effort by federal and state authorities, who scooped up six suspects at four different locations on Monday night.

The arrests capped a 16-month undercover operation that was partially detailed in an FBI affidavit.

But there remain many questions in the high-profile case – a case built around paid informants, secretly recorded conversations, an unsung hero, and mysterious operatives whose roles remain uncertain.

***

USA TODAY, June 4, 2007
Papers: Con was key in foiling JFK plot
By Richard Willing

A convicted drug dealer seeking a reduced sentence helped thwart an alleged plot to blow up fuel tanks and destroy New York City‘s Kennedy International Airport, papers filed in the case say.

The paid informant, described in a criminal complaint unsealed Saturday as “the Source,” made four surveillance trips to the airport in January with Russell Defreitas, a former Kennedy Airport cargo handler who was the plot’s alleged leader, the complaint says. The informant also recorded conversations, downloaded airport images from Google Earth and traveled with Defreitas, 63, to Guyana to enlist the aid of an armed radical Muslim group, Jamaat al Muslimeen, legal papers charge.

Defreitas and three other men, two Guyanese and a citizen of Trinidad, were charged with conspiring to destroy the airport by blowing up fuel lines, fuel tanks and terminal buildings. Two of the three were in custody in Trinidad, and the third still was being sought.

The case is at least the fifth time in two years in which the U.S. government has relied on paid informants, some recruited by police, to bring terrorism-related charges against U.S.-based Muslims, according to federal court records.

***

The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 12, 2006
FBI: Pa. man caught in terror sting
By Alfred Lubrano and John Shiffman, Inquirer Staff Writers

Michael Curtis Reynolds says he’s a patriot. Federal authorities say he’s a terrorist.

The FBI believes that the unemployed Wilkes-Barre man tried to conspire with al-Qaeda to wreck the American economy. Agents say Reynolds plotted to blow up the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a Pennsylvania pipeline, and a New Jersey refinery.

The sensational allegations, disclosed in a federal transcript obtained by The Inquirer on Friday, reveal a convoluted plot that includes cyberspace intrigue, an elaborate FBI sting, and a clandestine money-drop on a deserted Idaho road.

Described by his former father-in-law as a “John Wayne wanna-be,” Reynolds has a string of bad debts and criminal convictions – including one for attempted arson.

His last known address was Room 205 at the Thunderbird Hotel in Pocatello, Idaho.

In the FBI sting two months ago, Reynolds was drawn to a meeting with a purported al-Qaeda operative about 25 miles from the hotel, where he expected to receive $40,000 to finance the alleged plot.

The al-Qaeda contact was actually Shannen Rossmiller, a 36-year-old judge who lives in Conrad, Mont.

She was working for the FBI.

“Yes, that was me in communication with Reynolds,” Rossmiller acknowledged in a telephone interview Friday night. “But I can’t comment further.”

This is not Rossmiller’s first sting. She regularly monitors extremist Muslim Web sites, searching for potential terrorists. In 2004, she helped win a conviction against a National Guardsman in Tacoma, Wash., whom she met online.

Rossmiller met Reynolds online last fall.

25 Comments »

  1. Your post should have wider circulation.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — May 22, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  2. Thank you for posting this. I’ve learned to become suspicious whenever the government announces that it has broken up a “major terrorist plot”.

    The fact that there has been no terrorist attack inside the US since 9/11 perhaps tells us more about Al Quaida than it does about the supposed efficiency of “Homeland Security”.

    Comment by ekornfel — May 23, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  3. The case is very similar to one that happened in Albany, NY. In that case, two innocent men were given 15 years in jail. The FBI informant was the same man. See http://nepajac.org/Aref&Hossain.htm for details.

    Comment by Joe Lombardo — May 23, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

  4. Louis-

    There’s also a fellow by the name of Craig Monteilh, a con artist with a long record, who was doing this sort of thing in Orange County, CA. Check out the OC Weekly archives (free online). Very interesting case.

    Comment by dylan — May 23, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  5. This particular instance of a creepy informer may interest you. It is not directly related to September 11, but it definitely is a result of the paranoia and misinformation which followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    http://bestofneworleans.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A49882

    Brandon Darby- FBI Informant & Common Ground co-founder

    A cofounder of the Katrina relief organization Common Ground is revealed as an FBI informant, leaving members angry — and wary.

    By David Winkler-Schmit

    Brandon Darby, who helped found Common Ground with Malik Rahim and Scott Crow, confirms he is an FBI informant. This photo was taken in 2006.
    Photo by Ann Harkness
    Brandon Darby is proud of his work in New Orleans. As one of the cofounders of the organization Common Ground, formed in the days after Katrina and the levee failures, he and the group’s volunteers were among the first to distribute water, food and essential supplies. In the months after the storm, Darby, along with hundreds of Common Ground organizers and volunteers, established health clinics in the city, provided legal services and gutted homes.

      And, at some point, Brandon Darby — once a self-proclaimed anarchist who advocated for overthrow of the U.S. government — became an informant for the FBI.

      That much is public record. But when Darby became an informant — and whether he was keeping tabs on Common Ground for the federal government — is still a mystery.

    When Malik Rahim found out Brandon Darby was an FBI informant, “It broke my heart,” he says. Rahim, a New Orleans community organizer, former Black Panther and recent Green Party candidate for the U.S. Congress, formed Common Ground with Darby and Scott Crow, activists from Austin, Texas, on Sept. 5, 2005, less than a week after the levee failures. Headquartered in Rahim’s house in Algiers, Common Ground became one of the first large-scale, nongovernmental relief efforts and has had more than 22,000 volunteers work for it since.

      Darby, who says he was “very radical” when Common Ground started, served as the organization’s interim director, but left when he became disillusioned with some of the group’s anti-government leanings. According to him, he was approached by the FBI in late 2007 and asked to infiltrate a group of Austin activists planning to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minneapolis, Minn. Based on information Darby provided, FBI agents arrested and charged two men in a plot to firebomb a parking lot. One of the suspects, Bradley Crowder, has pleaded guilty, and the other suspect, David McKay, is scheduled for trial this month. (In an article by David Hanners in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Darby said he contacted the FBI because activists were planning violence; however, in a more recent interview with The Gambit, Darby claimed the FBI approached him and insisted “The investigation wasn’t into a threat of violence.”

      Darby says he didn’t start working with the FBI until November 2007, but Rahim and Crow suspect his spying began as early as the founding of Common Ground. Darby denies this, and says Common Ground has never been the focus of an investigation, though he adds, “However, because (Common Ground) is a large organization and there are a lot of people who have sometimes come through — just like any other organization — who may or may not be wrapped up in a separate investigation, then it’s not like investigating on [sic] Common Ground people.”

    Darby had an off-again, on-again history with the group he helped found. When he first arrived in New Orleans from Austin, he was an anarchist and believed in the overthrow of the government. His views changed, he says, as the community began to acccept the organization and he started to feel he could work with the government and not against it. When he left New Orleans for Austin in early 2006, he was at odds with some of those in Common Ground, but says he was asked to return in November 2006 as the group’s interim director.

      His tenure didn’t last long. Lisa Fithian, an Austin activist and early Common Ground organizer who left the group in October 2006, says she began hearing numerous complaints from personnel about Darby in December, only weeks after he took his new position. Fithian says many volunteers described Darby as a divisive force — pitting people against one another, carrying guns, verbally abusing women and purging the volunteer ranks of those who didn’t agree with his methods — and the organization started to fall apart.

      Fithian returned to New Orleans in January 2007 for an emergency meeting of Common Ground leaders. She says Darby screamed at her and Crow during the meeting and accused them of conspiring against him.

      ”Man,” Fithian recalls telling a friend, “this guy’s not only crazy, but this is COINTELPRO.”

    Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover started the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in 1956. It was intended to undermine dissident political organizations by using covert operations to, as Hoover’s directive stated, “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize.” Bureau agents used the tactics against groups including the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, women’s liberation organizations and Vietnam War protest groups — and used counterintelligence techniques in order to degrade members, spread false rumors, harass and prevent exercise of the First Amendment rights of speech and association.

      The program’s activities were exposed in 1971, and the U.S. Senate’s Church Committee, named for chairman Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), held hearings on COINTELPRO. After studying more than 20,000 pages of FBI documents and testimony from agents and the program’s targets, the committee concluded in its report: “Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that. The unexpressed major premise of the programs was that a law enforcement agency has the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order.”

      Although COINTELPRO was officially terminated in 1971, many activists, including Crow, Rahim and Fithian, believe the FBI still employs similar tactics.

    Scott Crow (left) and Brandon Darby were photographed together on Nov. 3, 2007, at a party in Austin hosted by KUT Radio.
      (The Gambit asked the FBI’s New Orleans field office if Common Ground Relief was being investigated. Spokesperson Sheila Thorne says the FBI will not announce an investigation until there is something in a public record, or until a suspect has been charged.)

      Crow and Fithian now believe Darby was an FBI informant since at least early 2006, a charge he denies. Darby dismisses Fithian’s accusations of undermining Common Ground, and says he worked as an FBI informant for less than two years. He won’t elaborate on whom he’s informed, but he offers a rationale, which ironically uses the First Amendment to justify the FBI’s involvement: “Any time a group of people get together and organize with an expressed intent, a publicly expressed intent, to prevent other people from exercising their constitutional right to assemble and say they’re going to stop it by any means necessary, it is the responsibility of the federal government to look into it.”

    Fithian and Crow are members of the Austin Informant Working Group, an Austin-based group of community organizers. The group has examined 74 pages of FBI documents pertaining to Darby’s informing, and Fithian says the documents prove Darby reported on conversations she and Darby held while they both still worked with Common Ground. She adds she was involved in the RNC protests, but did nothing illegal.

      When accusations of Darby’s involvement first surfaced, Crow confronted Darby, who said he didn’t want to talk about it. When Crow asked again, Darby admits he lied and said the rumors were false. Today, he won’t say whether or not he informed on Crow, but he does say his former friend was indirectly involved in the RNC protest.

      ”I don’t have that much to say about him,” Darby says. “Some of his views are a little concerning, but I don’t consider him a violent person.”

      Now that Darby’s role in the arrests of Browder and McKay has been confirmed, Crow is looking back at the three years since Hurricane Katrina and says he finds it unusual that he — a self-proclaimed anarchist for 20 years — wasn’t considered a public threat until he became a part of Common Ground. He points to a specific example.

      For a number of years, Crow was on the approved visiting list for Herman Wallace, who, along with two other prisoners, was accused in the 1972 stabbing of an Angola guard. Wallace was convicted and has spent three decades in solitary confinement. In September 2006, Crow received a letter from the prison saying his name had been removed from the approved visitors list because of information from an outside law enforcement agency.

      Nick Trenticosta, Wallace’s attorney, says there was a hearing that month about Wallace’s incarceration, and due to security concerns, a judge decided to hold the hearing in the prison instead of a Baton Rouge courthouse. Prior to the hearing, Trenticosta says, he was shown a document stating the FBI provided information of potential trouble at the hearing. The reason given was that Crow had recently purchased a rifle. When the hearing was held, supporters weren’t allowed in and SWAT teams were posted outside, something Trenticosta believes is directly related to Darby’s informing: “There’s not a chance that the ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) would have flagged Scott Crow buying a rifle,” Trenticosta says. “Somebody had to do that.”

    Fithian says she will make Freedom of Information Act requests to determine when Darby became an informant. With so much information redacted because of ongoing investigations, though, she says uncovering the truth will be a challenge. As for Common Ground, she feels Darby’s behavior as interim director had long-term consequences for the organization and made it less effective.

      Darby maintains it is only because of his association with the FBI that his associates in Common Ground have turned against him and tainted his reputation there. Besides, he hints, he may not have been the only the one supplying the FBI with information:

      ”I will also say if you are called a ‘reliable source’ by the bureau, that means that info you have given has been crosschecked by other sources.”

    (The Gambit called Darby on Tuesday for a follow-up interview. His phone had been disconnected, and there was no forwarding number.)

    Comment by WMB — May 23, 2009 @ 11:13 pm

  6. Louis,

    Thanks for collating this info, a not too dissimilar kafkaseque case has been unfolding across the pond, wherein, around this easter, 12 migrant Pakistani muslim students from various universities in the north-west of England were picked up under an anti-terror operation, foiling a conspiracy which Gordon Brown called a “very big terrorist plot”. The operation was touted to be one the most diligent and lengthy surveillance operation following the students from their home towns in Pakistan before they came over to start their studies in the UK. Since their arrest, government failed to produce any incriminating evidence against these kids. Not to worry, as the students are non-white muslim migrants its electorally beneficial, with the anti-muslim racism engulfing god’s own country, to use the panacea i.e. deport their asses back.

    A national campaign, with local campaigns in London, Birmingham, and Manchester, has been started by various lefties and anti-racist activists demanding justice, an apology from the government and resisting the deportation of the students. Their website is http://www.j4nw10.org

    Please direct your comrades in the UK to the website, which, also, has the contact details.

    Comment by Anarcho-Polpotist — May 24, 2009 @ 2:37 am

  7. Come on Allen Young. Let’s read some of that outrage over perfidious political imprisoning! Oh no because that’s reserved strictly for Cuba?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 24, 2009 @ 5:20 am

  8. Great stuff, as always. And it’s given me an idea. On the assumption that G-persons are monitoring The Unrepentant,
    I hope they will consider my application: I am a seriously disappointed American skeptical of the WOT and hostile to the cursed Zionist entity. I will be happy to discuss a terrorist plot of any kind with agents of the U.S. government, and to be recorded or filmed doing so. I will, of course, need a very substantial material inducement up front. Terms can be worked out consistent with my requirements and government guidelines for contractor fees. While I do not plan to incriminate myself, I believe that I can provide opportunities for our operatives to exercise their widely admired skills skills and perhaps help fine-tune the methods of our foreign born informants. I have no objection to becoming a Muslim for the duration of the exercise.

    Comment by J. Marlin — May 24, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  9. [...] it turns out that some blogger has been paying a lot more attention than me and has come up with a pretty impressive list of entrapped terrorist suspects. And all I knew about was Lakhani, but it appears he’s just the tip of the [...]

    Pingback by Our Dumb Blog » Blog Archive » A History of FBI Terrorist Entrapment — May 26, 2009 @ 2:20 am

  10. [...] the rest here: Dossier on FBI entrapment in “war on terror” « Louis Proyect: The … Tags: arrested-men, arrests-were, bush, civil, expense, obama, obviously-timed, [...]

    Pingback by Dossier on FBI entrapment in “war on terror” « Louis Proyect: The … | Global Security Blog — June 1, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  11. [...] [...]

    Pingback by Operation Entrapment - Page 2 — June 1, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  12. You should look into Emad Salem, the government agent involved in the first WTC bombing, who offered to substitute a harmless powder for the bomb but was refused by his FBI handlers. It was reported in the NY TImes. He recorded their conversations.

    Comment by hass — July 9, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

  13. [...] Louis recently called this to our attention — it  appears on his blog The Unrepentant Marxist. [...]

    Pingback by Louis Proyect: Dossier on FBI entrapment in “War on Terror” « Kasama — November 30, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  14. [...] Louis recently called this to our attention — it  appears on his blog The Unrepentant Marxist. [...]

    Pingback by Louis Proyect’s Dossier: FBI Entrapment in Their War on Terror « Kasama — December 2, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  15. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement – WNYTruthers — October 17, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  16. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement - TaJnB | TheAverageJoeNewsBlogg — October 17, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  17. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement | theinfowarriors.com — October 17, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  18. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement — October 17, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  19. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement | Independent News Hub — October 17, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  20. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Open about Takeover of Local Law Enforcement : RealPrimetime.tv — October 17, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  21. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement « Organic News Net — October 17, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

  22. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement | TheSwash.com — October 17, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  23. [...] FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist [...]

    Pingback by CIA Advertises Its Takeover of Local Law Enforcement | The Line in the Sand — October 18, 2011 @ 2:49 am

  24. [...] war against the American people. The facts are a matter of public record that The FBI routinely entraps witless patsies and then claims it prevented terrorist attacks. The Proverbial [...]

    Pingback by Red Pill Media Network » Operation Throw the Bums Out — December 2, 2011 @ 12:04 am

  25. […] years ago I posted a Dossier on FBI entrapment in “war on terror” prompted by what had happened to four men in Newburgh who were arrested by the FBI for their […]

    Pingback by Three documentaries of note | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — August 4, 2014 @ 9:48 pm


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