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.