Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 9, 2018

Shahed Hussain, the FBI sting artist whose unsafe limousine cost the lives of 20 people

Filed under: crime,disaster,entrapment — louisproyect @ 2:11 pm

In today’s NY Times, there is a report on a limousine company that was responsible for the death of 20 people in upstate NY–the driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians. The first paragraph: “A driver with an improper license. A limousine company with a trail of failed inspections and ties to a scheme to illegally obtain driver’s licenses. And a limousine that had also been deemed unsafe.”

We learn that owner of the limousine company was an FBI informant named Shahed Hussain who participated in stings and who was known to his victims as “Malik”.

Mr. Hussain, the man whose name seems to be associated with the limousine company, posed as a wealthy Muslim radical and was the central prosecution witness in a 2004 federal sting focusing on a pizzeria owner and an imam at an Albany mosque. Six years later, Mr. Hussain, who posed as a terrorist, played a key role in the government’s case in a plot to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx.

He became an F.B.I. informant after being charged in 2002 with a scheme that involved taking money to illegally help people in the Albany area get driver’s licenses.

Shahed Hussain first came to my attention in 2009 when I was compiling a dossier on FBI entrapment.

His first sting occurred in 2004 as mentioned above. I referred to a NY Times article from 2006 that identified Shahed Hussain’s role in Albany:

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?”

This was not the last of Hussain’s dirty tricks. Three years later he conned four very marginal men into staging attacks on Jews that would help bolster the “war on terror” hysteria of those days. The NY Times reported on May 23, 2009:

The members of the mosque now believe that Maqsood was the government informant at the center of the case involving four men from Newburgh arrested and charged this week with having plotted to explode bombs at Jewish centers in New York City. The government has said that the four men, several of whom visited the mosque in Newburgh and all of whom spent time in prison, were eager to kill Jews, and prosecutors charged that they had actually gone so far as to plant what they believed to be bombs on the streets of New York, an act the F.B.I. captured on videotape.

It turns out that Maqsood was none other than the owner of the limousine company that now has the blood of 20 people on his hands:

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.

HBO made a very good documentary about the second sting that I reviewed in 2014. I stated:

Five 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 alleged role in a plot to attack Riverdale synagogues and fire a missile at airplanes on the Stewart Air Force base tarmac. The NY Times displayed some skepticism about the arrest. An FBI agent provocateur had no luck recruiting men from a local mosque who regarded him as suspicious. Instead he approached someone who had only a fleeting connection to the mosque and who was more interested in a quick buck than in jihad. In claiming that the four men were Islamic terrorists, the District Attorney did not let the facts get in the way:

Law enforcement officials initially said the four men were Muslims, but their religious backgrounds remained uncertain Thursday. Mr. Payen reported himself to be Catholic during his 15-month prison sentence that ended in 2005, according to a state corrections official. Mr. Cromitie and Onta Williams both identified themselves as Baptists in prison records, although Mr. Cromitie changed his listed religion to Muslim upon his last two incarcerations; David Williams reported no religious affiliation.

Now, five years after their arrest and five years into their 25-year sentences, HBO has begun airing a documentary titled “The Newburgh Sting” that is both a stunning exposé of the entrapment but a timely warning to all people involved in social struggles to maintain a watchful eye against those who urge “more revolutionary” actions such as planting bombs. From the looks of things, they are likely to be FBI operatives.

Much of the film consists of footage that was recorded by hidden FBI cameras to make its case. There is something both pathetic and comic about the discussions that take place between the “brains” behind the conspiracy and his unwitting dupes. Sadly, the four men, who are not very bright, show little appetite for killing anybody and are far more interested in talking about what they are going to do with the money they make. As happens universally in such cases, there was less than a zero possibility that any of them would have gotten involved in such a plot if the FBI had not set the gears in motion, particularly a Haitian youth who was barely capable of taking care of himself even if he had a bankroll. The NY Times reported:

Payen, described as a nervous, quiet sort who took medication for schizophrenia or a bi-polar disorder, was unemployed and living in squalor in Newburgh. His last arrest, in 2002, was for assault, after he drove around the Rockland County village of Monsey, firing a BB gun out of the window — striking two teens — and snatching two purses. A friend who visited Mr. Payen’s apartment on Thursday said it contained bottles of urine, and raw chicken on the stovetop.

For those of you who are HBO subscribers, you are probably aware that it has supplanted PBS as a primary source of cutting edge documentaries. It broke the story on the West Memphis Satanic Cult miscarriage of justice and is continuing in that vein with “The Newburgh Sting”.

Fortunately, you can now see the HBO documentary on YouTube:

I hope some radical filmmaker can make a new film that connects the dots between this scumbag’s entrapment operations and his homicidal limousine business. It will illustrate how FBI stings and wanton disregard for safety regulations are driven by the same deadly logic that puts the national security state and the sorry state of consumer protection on the same footing.

7 Comments »

  1. The FBI informant killed 20 by accident. He didn’t plot to kill them or he wasn’t entrapped into killing anyone. However he’s not an European American so he’s a scumbag too.

    Comment by Riccardo Pusceddu — October 9, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

  2. He didn’t plot to kill them

    If I sold someone medication that was watered down in order to make more money and if as a result hundreds of people died, that would be equivalent to going to their homes and putting a bullet in their head. Plus, as a supporter of Ricardo Duchesne, I would have thought that you considered all those not racially pure “European Americans” to be scum whatever they do.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 9, 2018 @ 3:02 pm

  3. This and the whitewash of the rapist and ruling-class thug Brett Kavanaugh–if the pious tergiversations of the now weirdly sanctified Comey (omigod, he loves Reinhold Niebuhr!!!) were not enough–should suffice to convince anyone that, contrary to portrayals on TV and the cult-ification of the convenient (and possibly treacherous) Bob Mueller, the FBI are not nice people and should not be trusted.

    Trump possibly and reactionaries in general certainly need have no fears re the “deep state”–“progressives” would be chumps to place their hopes on it.

    I have to note in passing how FBI image-mongering on TV has changed since the rumpty-dump-dump, foursquare, march-music days of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. The FBI and similar entities are now portrayed as surrogate families to lovable but crime-hating eccentrics–the egregious Criminal Minds is the obvious example; that Navy thing starring Mark whatsis is another–there was a third series on the same theme starring some well-known actors, the name of which escapes me–the one about the Jewish math genius and his FBI agent brother.

    Creepy is the word. This unwelcome truth should be an antidote to any “progressive” FBI fantasies except those of authoritarian Democrats.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — October 9, 2018 @ 5:02 pm

  4. “… the one about the Jewish math genius and his FBI agent brother.”

    I think you’re thinking of ‘Numb3rs’ (that’s how the producers spelled it; catchy, ain’t it), but I could be wrong.

    Comment by Reza — October 9, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

  5. Reza–yeah, that’s the one. Very warm.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — October 9, 2018 @ 8:39 pm

  6. This is from Karl Smith:

    One could argue that the Feds are indirectly responsible for all those deaths. Here’s how. It’s a safe bet that this informant was paid stupid amounts of money for his work. That’s what gives informants the incentive to set such elaborate traps for these unsuspecting perps. It’s also a safe bet this informant wouldn’t have had sufficient capital to start that limo business without Uncle Sam’s generous greenbacks.

    Comment by louisproyect — October 9, 2018 @ 8:55 pm

  7. Wallstington is ultimately responsible.

    Comment by uh...clem — October 10, 2018 @ 1:01 am


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