FBI Celebrates That It Prevented FBI's Own Bomb Plot

from the feeling-safer? dept

With all of the new security procedures we keep hearing about, it’s important for the government to keep convincing us that we’re under a very real immediate threat that could put us at risk at any moment. Along those lines, you may have heard over the weekend about how the FBI supposedly stopped a terrorism bomb plot in Portland, Oregon. Except it appears more and more people are scratching beneath the surface and realizing that the entire plot appears to have been cooked up by the FBI itself. Yes, it sounds like they found a dumb kid who was willing to carry out a bombing. But there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that he actually had any ability to actually do so… until the FBI came along and provided him with all the details.

Of course, this is hardly new. There appears to have been a very similar story just a month ago, involving a guy in DC who wanted to bomb Metro stations, but the only actual plotting he was able to do was after federal authorities stepped in and helped him plan everything.

Even that is hardly new. I remember a fascinating episode of This American Life back from the summer of 2009 describing (in great detail) a very similar story of a supposed “arms dealer” that the Justice Department championed as a success story when it arrested and prosecuted him for selling missiles to terrorists. The only problem is that the deeper you dig, the more you realize that the whole plot was also set up by the feds. The guy had no way to get a missile. It was actually provided by the feds themselves.

As that report notes, this is how the government has acted since 9/11. It basically creates its own terrorist plots, and then searches for willing participants… and then arrests them, and hypes how it prevented a terrorist attack, even if there’s absolutely no indication that anyone involved would have actually been able to carry out any sort of attack (or arms deal) without the aid of the US government.

We’ve talked about “security theater,” but this appears to be law enforcement theater, complete with actors and props. Feel safer yet?

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Comments on “FBI Celebrates That It Prevented FBI's Own Bomb Plot”

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Eugene (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, by definition it’s entrapment. A sting happens when you take an person or group who already have the ability to commit a crime, and set up a situation that allows them to incriminate themselves in a safe environment, but without the direct interference of law enforcement.

So, for instance, if a guy’s talking about blowing up a building, you would wait for him to start trying to build the bomb and then undercut the other bidders or intercept the guy doing the drop. On the other hand, if a guy’s talking about blowing up a building and you run up to him and say “here’s a bomb and here’s how you can do it!” – that’s pretty much entrapment. If fact that’s so entrapment it’s stupid.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> On the other hand, if a guy’s talking about blowing up a building
> and you run up to him and say “here’s a bomb and here’s how you
> can do it!” – that’s pretty much entrapment.

Actually, it’s not. Entrapment is when law enforcement induces someone to do something which they are not already predisposed to do.

If a guy is talking about wanting to blow up a building, then he’s already predisposed to doing it.

BearGriz72 (profile) says:

Re: (What. The. Fuck.)

I live in the Portland Oregon Metro area, so I have done some Major Digging and this is a VERY big issue.

From: The second linked article below

According to legal experts, it comes down to whether the suspect had a predisposition to commit acts of terror. In other words, was he thinking and planning to carry out a plan before he began talking with federal agents or did they plant the seed? What is critical, however, is the very first meeting between Mohamud and the federal agents and whether it was the agents who first suggested the attack.


The FBI recording equipment malfunctioned during that initial meeting and so the accusations that Mohamud wanted to commit acts of terror come only from the undercover agent?s own words.

I personally find this very suspicions, the information that I have found shows that the FBI has multiple recordings of their interactions with Mohamed Osman Mohamud. (The 19-year-old Somali-born man accused of plotting to bomb a popular Christmas Tree lighting ceremony here in Portland.) I find this VERY problematic, the most important meeting of the whole case and the didn’t get a good recording? I wonder why they did not somehow bring it back up in a later conversation when the recording equipment WAS working.

This is NOT to say I think he is innocent, but it does raise questions.
From the first linked article below

Prosecutors say that agents let the plot string out to its end, with Mohamud feverishly dialing a cell phone number he thought would touch off the bomb, so that they could gather enough evidence to support the single charge he faces, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Of course another question is does a simple car bomb, although undoubtedly horrible actually qualify as a “weapon of mass destruction”. Most people consider a WMD to be a Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical Weapon, I have seen nothing like that mentioned. Did Mohamud believe this was supposed to be a radiological dispersion device (AKA “Dirty Bomb”), or is this more over-hype from our friendly neighborhood “Three Letter Agencies”.

In other news, the FBI is investigating a fire that destroyed part of an Islamic center in Corvallis, where Mohamud occasionally worshipped while attending Oregon State University. (Links Included)

Here are the (mostly local) sources I reviewed:

1? Lawyer, friends: Bomb plot suspect was ‘set up’ by FBI
2? Entrapment test clear, but glitch may muddy it
3? Lawyer hints at entrapment defense in Portland terror plot
4? Mohamud?s attorney experienced with terror cases
5? FBI terror stings have critics, but court record is solid
6? Details revealed: How FBI snared Portland bomb plot suspect
7? The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot
8? Did the Internet incite Portland’s bomb plot?
9? What About that Other Terrorism Case?
10? Police: Islamic center fire caused by liquid
11? Clues found in Corvallis mosque arson probe

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:


As that report notes, this is how the government has acted since 9/11. It basically creates its own terrorist plots, and then searches for willing participants… and then arrests them, and hypes how it prevented a terrorist attack, even if there’s absolutely no indication that anyone involved would have actually been able to carry out any sort of attack (or arms deal) without the aid of the US government.

…since 9/11? Seriously, do they really believe that this behaviour is new? The “Oklahoma City Bomber” was a fed plot too–and enacted well before 9/11. (And with similar results: hastily passed legislation.)

This has been their MO for fu*king years!!

I’m sure there are numerous notable examples, but that’s the only one which comes to mind at present.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Since...?

I’m confused. I thought the Reichstag Fire was a good thing because it provided a firm, solid foundation of how easily people can be manipulated into thinking a Decree will fix something. In order for this method to be successful, it has a secondary, emotional attachment to it. It’s very similar to the various initial outcomes of 9-11, or later, the Patriot Act which was effective in creating a two-caste society.

It’s effectiveness is paramount in countries that have state or dictator-controlled media. Do you know something I don’t know?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Since...?

So Matt, is being sarcastic a crime now?

I stand by Reichtag Fire and the subsequent Reichtag Fire Decree leading to the uprise of Hitler.

I also believe that Germans were a very jovial group of people prior to WWII and weren’t committed to a cause. Nor were they required to prove and re-prove themselves through their work ethic. Indeed, the German; The Very True German, was in search of a cause to commit to.

When we look more deeply into international relations, we have to understand that this is between us and not them. Our problems are our own, and not the cause of someone else.

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Re: funding

No, it doesn’t excuse his actions, but imagine how the public would feel about this if Islam and terrorism weren’t involved.

Suppose you took a poor, young, lonely, white American, who because of their socioeconomic circumstances and upbringing is at risk of leading a life of gang-related crime. Perhaps they’ve already expressed antagonism towards law enforcement, or are already using drugs (and thus are already technically doing illegal things).

You’re in authority. Which of the following two general approaches sounds better to you?

Approach #1: You befriend them and give them a job, perhaps a trade. You encourage them into the respectable and legal workforce, and perhaps try to help them complete their education. If they’re addicted to something, you help them get off it, so they don’t mix with criminals any more. You give them a circle of peers of people who got out of bad situations so they have someone to talk with and lean on should that be necessary.

Approach #2: You befriend them, and secretly groom them into joining a fake criminal gang. You start by giving them small tasks which aren’t necessarily criminal acts in and of themselves, provide them with an income which they understand is from illegal sources, and promise them more if they participate more fully. Then you stage a big crime, perhaps a bank robbery or a drug deal, and encourage this person to be involved. At this point, you spring the trap, arrest them and congratulate yourself that you’ve taken a dangerous person off the street.

Does anyone, anywhere, think that approach #2 is ever the right idea? If it were ever found to have happened, there would be hell to pay!

If you want to stop people ending up in organised crime groups, regardless of whether those groups are trying to sell meth or trying to blow up buildings, you should be doing everything you can to steer them away from those gangs. This should be a no-brainer but, as Lawrence Lessig would say, there are apparently no brains involved here.

Hell, it’d even make some kind of logic had they used the kid as bait to try to catch someone higher up the chain. I’d still feel sorry for the kid, but at least it would have been more-or-less productive work for a law enforcement agency.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression here. The sort of people the FBI locates are probably the sort of impressionable, easily-swayed individuals who could be radicalised into committing some horrible act. But something is deeply wrong when it’s the FBI doing the radicalising.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Listen buddy. I don’t know where you come from but there are people who think. Either they have proof or not. But chances are, probably not.

These guys probably know that I want an espresso machine for Christmas. You know the address. Let’s make it happen.

Espresso Machine = My Government Loves Me.
No Espresso Machine = No Love From My Government.

I also demand that such an unexpected gift would full coverage of consumables for 12 months. Consumables would come in the form of a coupon which would provide 22bs of Espresso-roasted beans from Costco. I choose Costco because they are not only the cheapest, but also because Costco is fiscally responsible. Also, 22lbs of good roasted beans should cover a year.

I can pay $9.99/lb at my local grocery store, which is insane when I can get 2.5lbs for $12.99 at Costco. Get with the times people!

I dare them to actually come give me what I want. And whoever you are, you’re a real asshole.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: What are the smart ones up to?

The question is why they are wasting any resources on this type of operation. A sting to bring down a real threat might be worthwhile, but that is not what they are doing. They are actively recruiting people who are not a sigificant threat any putting a lot of resources into developing them into something that sounds dangerous.

Of course they are doing other things. Apparently my sarcasm was too subtle for you. Perhaps you should call your local FBI office and volunteer your services.

Mike (profile) says:

FBI Portland bust

I live in Portland and saw this for the BS it is. But the local media must be starving for stories as they are all over this, being good little compliant americans (small case intended)and following what the FBI wants, a media justification for the rape of individual rights.
But hey, this is the new age of terrorism and we are supposed to stand aside and allow our trusted government to “protect us”. The obviously confused and ‘broken’ teenager is of no consequence as “his parents should have raised him better”.

Pierre Wolff (profile) says:

Re: Re: FBI Portland bust

Sadly both he and us are the victims, though it appears that neither he nor us are victims of terrorism, but rather victims of the FBI’s political tactics. What is happening as a result of such farces is far more dangerous to our country and the turn it’s taking in the name of security fm boogeymen, then had a bomb actually gone off.

lux (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: FBI Portland bust

What is happening as a result of such farces is far more dangerous to our country and the turn it’s taking in the name of security fm boogeymen, then had a bomb actually gone off.

Talk about extremism abroad, we have it right here on TD.

So you’re claiming that the FBI nabbing this would-be terrorist is more dangerous that if he actually killed hundreds of people, including woman and children? Holy shit bro.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 FBI Portland bust

…and if he only managed to blow himself up trying to make a bomb out of shotgun shells and thumb tacks? You are loading the question, as is evident by the “including women and children” tomfoolery you typed. (Honestly, you think age or gender make a life more or less valuable?)

Try this: Every dollar and man-hour wasted turning this misguided bastard into a threat just to have the chance to stop said threat is a dollar and a man-hour that *should* have been used actually making America safer.

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I rather suspect my credence regarding the state of the sky would be severely cut if I not only ran around talking about how the sky was falling, but paid some bozos to act like they had just been hit by pieces of the sky. Add to that I am the only QUALIFIED sky deflection suit seller in the land, well, I don’t believe I’d get much of an audience. But if I’m the government, woah, whole new ball park.

lux (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

While I do follow your logic, and to some degree agree, I still think these tactics are necessary, although maybe not properly employed.

Sting operations are not new, and as for using them in a counter-terrorist light, it was simply a natural progression – moreover, I’m sure we were doing this long before it made it to headline news.

And for folks to claim that “we’re only catching the dumb ones,” well that’s absurd. Can anyone make the valid claim that if this teenager didn’t get nabbed by the FBI, he wouldn’t be in some Pakastani terror camp in a month…a year? Absolutely not.

After all…this person willingly attempted to use an explosive, which happened to be fictional. In ethical terms, there is no difference between his real actions and his intended consequences.

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ok, on this point we’re in agreement; these tactics are NOT being properly employed. I guess the diff. between us is I have no hope whatsoever that where the government is involved, THEY WILL NEVER BE PROPERLY EMPLOYED. Seriously, what does the government do other than collect taxes with real efficiency? And; they probably don’t do that very well, assuming my suspicions with regard to the field agent/dollars collected ratio is what I think is it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Stings work well for big fish, who are actively engaged in crime.

[citations needed but easily found : see savings and loans]

That is not the case here.

Why not focus on him after he goes to a Pakistani training camp? Are you really that comfortable with the government enforcing prior restraint this way?

To your second point: He willing attempted what he was encouraged to do by the FBI. You have no problem with that?

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh come on. He frigging dialed the number to explode a bomb that would have killed hundreds of men, women and children. TWICE! He also was in contact with known terrorists and asked for their help to bomb Americans. He tried to leave the country to get terrorist training, but his parents stopped him. Who gives a rat’s ass if the Fed’s facilitated him to see if he would go through with it. Guilty, hang him on the public square.

teka (profile) says:

Re: Re:

but why did the operation go this far?

Why did they not pick him up the moment he answered that “RECRUITING: TERRORISTS” newspaper ad?

He could have been picked up and received some counseling, perhaps community service or probation. A disaffected terrorist defused into a somewhat screwed up kid who gets some help. Instead the FBI builds the situation up into a MASSIVE PLOT so they could SAVE EVERYONE from the MASSIVE PLOT.

This is far past a sting operation trying to buy drugs from a drug dealer.

This is recruiting an at-risk kid, training him to be a drug dealer, and then arresting him when he goes to sell some drugs. They could have just gotten him into an after-school program.

teka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

god i hope you try reading that again.

i would never suggest that someone involved in a bombing plot, no matter how much encouragement and support they get from the FBI, end up an “an after school program”

That was of course an example of criminalizing someone instead of dealing with them earlier.

Instead of recruiting him into an interesting plot, they could have simply let a troubled kid go work as a fisherman, perhaps turn his life around. Or simply continue to monitor him (as they obviously were monitoring an American citizen who had no known history of violence, no super-special terrorist training and no apparent link with any plot until they contacted him) and let him go about his legitimate business.

Just, you know, options.

But for some reason they had to build a bogeyman to overcome.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

> But for some reason they had to build a bogeyman to overcome.

I think you’re forgetting the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Peace Dividend. Without a horrific bogeyman, funding of the Military-Industrial Complex tends to fall. I realize that sounds all conspiracy-theory-ish, but really, I also think it’s true. Terrorism has become the new communism.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I remember a fascinating episode of This American Life back from the summer of 2009 describing (in great detail) a very similar story of a supposed “arms dealer” that the Justice Department championed as a success story when it arrested and prosecuted him for selling missiles to terrorists.”

Dang, I should have read the rest of your article before posting my first post.

Anonymous 4 says:

I don’t know the case law, but I don’t see how Mohamud can be charged with “attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction”. He is guilty of ‘desire to use a weapon of mass destruction’, but how criminal is that? If someone squeezes off a squirt gun at someone they desire to kill, is that attempted murder? Doesn’t there have to BE a REAL WMD to be charged with attempted use of it? …thought crime…? Dial 1-800-LNCH-NUK….

Marvin says:


How nice, they spend 15 MONTHS and easily a MILLION dollars entrapping a 19 year old that “WANTED” to do harm ……
but they could not spend 15 DAYS investigating the WORST ACT OF ACTUAL DOMESTIC TERRORISM IN HISTORY.
At the time of the Oklahoma Bomb, the “media” reported on the Citizen’s Militia which included 95 year old Hattie Farley, ANOTHER victim of Sanilac County Official(s) CORRUPTION. The media did NOT report on the violence prone, extremist, elements which which were OPPOSED by the Citizen’s Militia. Look up the FBI’s “Project Megiddo” report, and in that look up the “united States Theatre Command” which was HEADQUARTERED in SANILAC COUNTY and whose “commandant” was David E. Rydel, SANILAC COUNTY resident. the Friend and Business Partner of Virgil Strickler, the SHERIFF. The Oklahoma Bomb SHOULD have ushered in a “STERILIZATION” of Sanilac County. Most of Sanilac County’s “officials” belong IN Guantanamo.
Sanilac County. PROUD HOME of the OKLAHOMA BABY BOMBERS. Even the SHERIFF Strickler was tied into the MILITIA. The “FUMBLING FEDS” did a %$#@ LOUSY job of “investigating”, and the journalists did also. Worth Township there had a Supervisor flying CONFEDERATE FLAGS at his house, until he had to hide them. For years the Sheriff AND State Police regularly walked past his black-painted lawn jockey holding a Confederate flag as they entered his house to socialize.TERRORISTIC Governmental attacks on citizens is the NORM up there.

Gregg Leblanc says:

True but, well maybe also

Well its a fact that he told people he hated america and emailed someone, on his own, to ask about joining the holy war.
While I don’t dispute the fact the the whole plot was conceived by the FBI, but since he did reach out to someone on his own, it shows that it was only a matter of time before he did something, what that something is I dont know but he did want to harm people living here just for being american, so at least he was stopped before he could of done something.

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