FBI Successful In Breaking Up Yet Another Of Its Own Plots To Bomb The US

from the what-an-amazing-track-record dept

We’ve discussed this a few times in the past, but the FBI’s main counter-terrorism initiative these days appears to be centered around creating its own terrorist plots to thwart. First, they find clueless, easily manipulated people (frequently young and Muslim), who have no actual connections with terrorists. Then, they concoct entire terrorism plots, where every other person is an FBI agent, and any tools, “weapons” and money are supplied by the FBI. Finally, they “bust” the guy just before he carries out the plot that never would have happened anyway, because it’s not like the FBI would supply the actual weapons. We see this pattern again and again — and each time the press uncritically hypes up how the FBI successfully stopped a real “homegrown” terrorist.

Of course, it’s happened once again, and the basic plotlines are identical to ones in the past. And, of course, the press is describing it like it was an actual terrorist plot, pretending that people was actually at risk. Glenn Greenwald’s summary of this and other cases is pretty spot on:

None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it. They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them. Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI’s Terror plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers’ bags).

Now, I’m sure some will argue that these efforts highlight those who may be pre-disposed to taking part in such activities if given the chance for real. But in the US, I thought we didn’t believe in arresting people for crimes that they’re pre-disposed to doing if they haven’t actually done them. On top of that, with the FBI providing most of the actual plot here, it’s difficult to see how this isn’t a classical case of entrapment. Finally, it’s not clear what good this really does. Putting people who had no real means of attacking the US in jail isn’t likely to scare off anyone else.

It also makes you wonder if the FBI shouldn’t be spending more time trying to stop actual plots that involve people who have the means to actually hurt people, rather than these plots which have exactly 0% chance of causing any harm.

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Comments on “FBI Successful In Breaking Up Yet Another Of Its Own Plots To Bomb The US”

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pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

What I've read...

is that this kid had posted anti-US stuff on websites. He indicated he wanted to attack the US and kill Americans.

That’s at least a ‘small’ step towards actually doing something rather than Mike’s description of being target simply because he was young and Muslim.

I agree the FBI and the press wildly inflate their successes, but there is a grain of truth here that shouldn’t be dismissed me thinks.

HothMonster says:

Re: What I've read...

well we all know people do everything that they say they are going to do on the internet.

I mean sure he didnt have a target, weapons, knowledge to make weapons, money to buy weapons, or any criminal contacts but he said he hated the government and wanted to kill all the bastards in power on the internet. So obviously he was a real threat.

Now if you excuse me I have to go fuck a gaggle of supermodels on a pile of money before i jump my lambo over the grand canyon

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Re: What I've read...

Even if you’re right, it’s irrelevant. If a young disaffected urban kid posts anti-police stuff on a web site, no sane person would ever consider setting up a fake gang for the kid to join, giving him weapons and encouraging him to commit some crime, then arresting him right before the crime occurs.

It’s almost an axiom of modern policing that we’re supposed to steer people away from crime. For a modern police force to deliberately steer vulnerable kids towards a life of crime… I have no words for how much this disgusts me.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: What I've read...

“is that this kid had posted anti-US stuff on websites. He indicated he wanted to attack the US and kill Americans.”

Those are actually constitutionally-protected activities.

Maybe, it depends what exactly he said. It’s possible he could run afoul of the Smith Act, which prohibits advocating the overthrow of the US government by force or violence.


Though it hasn’t been repealed or fully overturned, it also hasn’t been used in decades.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's easier to fish in a bucket than the ocean...

‘Homegrown’ terrorist results guaranteed by the FBI, I’m sure there is a quota or minimum that they have to catch to keep funding or make it look like they are doing something useful (other than wasting taxpayer’s money).

Since it’s easier to fish in a bucket (especially one they create), I’m not surprised that they continue this charade.

There is probably a money trail (that we can’t see) as well leading from some of the larger ‘non-military’ enforcement agencies back to the FBI as long as they keep ratcheting up the perceived need for security at home(ie. military contractors that we pay to do most of the ‘real’ military work these days).

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: "stupid braun ad" -- Get Noscript and use "hosts" file.

HothMonster, Sep 30th, 2011 @ 8:37am
4 times while trying to read this story that stupid braun add popped up and took over my screen. 4 times mike, not cool.

I don’t see a single ad nor even image here. Had to host out the latter after annoying image of some conference. Add them as Mike clutters up the site, as I did with bandcamp.com. — Result is just text, and better arranged, like it.

Mike doesn’t object to this. Can’t, logically. If everyone did this, cut off the 12 parasites that run javascript here and images too, I’m sure he’d fund the site out of good will.

Way the net inevitably goes IS as Mike says: “free” content. It’s entirely up to Mike to “monetize” the content. While the advertising income holds up, he’s an “entrepreneur”: when users demand content in their own way — ad free — he becomes a “dinosaur”. See how that works? Mike is just enjoying the same old advertising supported system while the bubble lasts, but if ads here begin to annoy regulars, it’s collapsing.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: "stupid braun ad" -- Get Noscript and use "hosts" file.

my home computer is mostly ad free, i dont really fuck with my work browser that much so im subjected to this shit, which normally doesnt bother me but some stupid video for razors keeps popping up, taking over my window and greying everything else out. Its even more annoying because it takes a good 20 seconds to load and the X doesnt show till its loaded so i just have to sit there and stare at a grey box that covers all the text until i can click it closed.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

4 times while trying to read this story that stupid braun add popped up and took over my screen. 4 times mike, not cool.

I agree. Not cool. The ad definitely should not do that. Yes, it does expand, but it should only expand if you directly move your mouse over it and then there’s a countdown to give you a chance to move the mouse away if you don’t want the expand. I’ll talk to our ad partners about this. It shouldn’t behave the way you describe…

Robert Freetard says:

Re: Re: Re:

I call pbcak, it dosen’t do that to me.

This is one of the very few sites I have whitelisted for adblock and noscript.

Funny thing is my current razor’s battery is all but dead and I actually looked at those at the store the other day, I need to go find a couple of actual reviews.

(PS, it’s “Problem Between Chair And Keyboard”)

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is one of the very few sites I have whitelisted for adblock and noscript.

+1. Mike has been very careful in the past…he is one of the few that have done so. I hate 99% of the websites out there because they allow their advertisers to pop-up, pop-under, and play ridiculous noises (“You’ve won!”) I have whitelisted this site for adblock/noscript/noflash, because most of the ads here are stuff that I might use and I have yet to see any stupidity here that I’ve seen elsewhere.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

im definitely not mousing over it because my window is shrunk down to not show the ad/top stories frame

Ok. Talking it over with our ad partner, and looking to see if we can replicate and also ways to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen accidentally.

Can you say what browser you’re using? That might be helpful as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hate to say it, but if I wanted to “Kill Amearicans!” and go jihad on people, I would calmly walk into a collage chemistry department and ask to be trained in chemistry.

In a few years I would have all the skills needed to blow stuff up and do it in such a way that no FBI dude would ever know I was going to do it. In fact I would keep my hate of Americans secret and pretend to be an american loving, red meat eating local boy.

Sting operations like this only show people how to dodge the FBI. That and watching Burn Notice.

Please note: I am not trying to blow anything up!!

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

The stupidest thing that this FBI tactic does is reveal how they contact suspects and pretend to help. Now real terrorist cells will learn to work more independently in order to not have the possibility of getting infiltrated by the FBI. They won’t trust anyone they don’t know. The FBI is playing pretend terrorist cell and revealing their hand. This makes the US far more insecure than some kid with no means and pent up rage.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe they didn’t do it on purpose. Like that episode of Get Smart, where Agent 86 pretended to go rogue to infiltrate a secret organization that was plotting some kind of dastardly plot.

After everyone in the organization nearly killing each other, they find out it was entirely composed of CIA, FBI, IRS agents that had infiltrated it.

T says:


I want to know how much they egged them on. If they did the prompting – of course we will not hear that side of it. If the foolish person who said they wanted to attack believed that the person they were listening was a trustworthy source then it says more about the ability of human relationships to leverage someone towards a despicable act then it does about the person who had no intention at the beginning…

Justice will be served. Maybe not now, but it will be dispensed and those, be they Muslim or not, we rue the day they were unjust.

Nick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I wondered why, when I first read this story, the FBI seemed to constantly assure us that there was no danger of FBI equipment and supplies being used in this plot if it ever went through.

As for entrapment, I wonder if the FBI is bored of waiting for actual plots (of which either there are such scarce few, or the government is NOT taking credit for keeping us alive by hiding hundreds of them) that they decide to make up some to stop. If they got time to do this, maybe we’re NOT in constant danger of being blown up by the guys who “hate us for our freedoms.”

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Anyone up for a little Operation Fast and Furious?

I think we should demand a new agency with sweeping security powers to protect us from the agencies that continually endanger and sometimes even hurt and kill US citzens with their operations.

As I have read before on this very site by an AC, “If it saves even one life…”

TheStupidOne says:

The Office of the Director of the FBI

Sir, We’ve been going after success stories in dealing with terrorism because it gives us more money and power. But Agent Smith just realized something. Our most dramatic increase in power and funding came just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So what if next time we build a homegrown terrorist plot, why don’t we let it succeed? We have access to the CDC and can get some disease that we could release in NYC. The best course of action would be to select one that we can rapidly distribute vaccinations for. I’ve already spoken to my contacts in big pharma and they can be ready to push smallpox vaccinations to the entire country in a matter of weeks, days if we give them advance notice so they can get ready. Just give me the go ahead and I’ll make sure it can’t ever be traced back to us.

Someantimalwareguy (profile) says:

Exploiting the mentally ill

All this is is exploiting someone with an obvious mental instability to perform an act he/she was predisposed to commit given resources and some backing. I see nothing different with this person’s ranting on the internet with any other paranoid, anti-social rantings of a disturbed mind.

Once identified, that person should have been simply watched and perhaps even taken in for using hate speech. At the very least, examined by mental health professional that might have been able to help him rather than encourage him to more violent action…

John Doe says:

You are confused

But in the US, I thought we didn’t believe in arresting people for crimes that they’re pre-disposed to doing if they haven’t actually done them.

We have busted people with drugs for years and charging them with the intent to distribute even though they weren’t actually caught distributing. This country is a police state now and there doesn’t appear to be any way of going back. All the government has to do is scare the sheeple and they roll over and let the government have its way with them.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: You are confused

That. Which takes us to the usual theories that 9/11 was actually sponsored by the US Govt and then used as an excuse to 1- burn the US Constitution to ashes and 2- start a few wars that made a few pockets burst with money (don’t forget, after the war is ‘over’ you can always earn more money with consultants for rebuilding).

Sweet. I sometimes pity the Americans.

Anonymous Coward says:

It also makes you wonder if the FBI shouldn’t be spending more time trying to stop actual plots that involve people who have the means to actually hurt people, rather than these plots which have exactly 0% chance of causing any harm.

Not really, the only real people trying to hurt us are now mostly dead since we’ve spent the last 10 years killing everyone that challenged us on their own turf, and the other element is lone nutjobs with their half-baked plots that get thwarted by normal citizens using common sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

While there certainly are homegrown terrorists, they aren’t like the kinds of people the FBI is catching and labeling homegrown terrorists.

The real term for it is ‘Domestic Terrorism’, and it’s most often done by highly political people (they don’t have to be a politician, just a radical in their political beliefs). Domestic terrorists most often go after people/groups they view as part of their political opposition who they view as destroying America and/or causing great evil.

For example, remember that guy who shot an abortion doctor in a church? That’s domestic terrorism, using fear and murder to try to scare other Americans out of doing/getting abortions.

Then there was the guy who shot that congress woman Gabriele Giffords.

There was also a gunman who tried to shot up some economic group in California (I forget it’s name) because the shooter listened to Glenn Beck constantly rail about how evil the group was and how they wanted to bring communism to America (they didn’t, they were just a liberal economic thinktank group).

Domestic Terrorists tend to pop up when a group feels totally shut out of power, which often occurs when one party controls both houses of congress and the white house. It happens with supporters of both political parties. Though I only named conservative domestic terrorists from the last few years (since they’re recent) there’s been a bunch of liberal ones over the decades to, the most famous ones being anti-war people in the Vietnam era.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: prove it

he linked to a bunch of stories in which a terrorist ring was foiled, only of course there was only one person in the ring that wasn’t an FBI agent. This keeps happening, a person who is vocal about there dissatisfaction in the way the US is run and probably mentally unstable is approached by the FBI who then assist him in planning and preparing for a terrorist attack and then arrest him as he is about to go through with the plan the FBI developed and funded. If you think that is a real win for law enforcement than good for you.

Though some of us think that there are more credible threats the FBI should probably be looking into rather than staging and busting there own attacks. Not to mention a better way to handle the individual, either by helping him or monitoring him until he becomes a real threat. This is dancing a fine line with entrapment, would this guy have ever had access to the explosives the FBI was “going to” provide him? Would he have ever found people to back him? Would have have ever even tried to find a backer and supplier if the FBI hadn’t approached him? How much did the FBI encourage him to do this? Did he have doubts they talked him out of? Did they convince him this would be a good thing to do? Personally I think these questions should be looked into which is why I am upset that the press is uniformly calling this a win for law enforcement.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

It's not the first time, nor the last

The FBI has done this countless times in the past 10 years-but before that, they were actively enabling Whitey Bulger avoid arrest and one agent actually became a partner in crime to Bulger.
That enabled Bulger to avoid arrest for over 20 years. It took a private citizen to get him caught. The FBI claimed they didn’t know where he was.
The point is that the FBI likes to create cases they can ‘solve’ easily without a whole heck of a lot of work or money.
“Homegrown terrorists” fit the bill. Helping them create a case to prosecute is even more fun.
It sure looks like they don’t have enough to do. Perhaps we should look into their funding next time their budget comes up for review.

Jaded says:

John P O'Neil

John P O’neil second in command at the FBI spent years hunting down Osama.

Shortly before 911 He left the FBI through frustration at His requests to take Osama down being scotched from above.

He then gets a job in the twin towers and dies on his 1st day due to a plane hitting them.

He was the one FBI Guy that could have told the story of how those above wanted Osama to start the war of civilisations and would practically let Him go free until that fateful day in 2001.

They got their wars and diverted attention away from the coming financial disaster.

Now those terrorism laws can be used to stop protest and GOD help anyone who thinks that their own government wants to keep them safe… they’ll kill You as soon as look at You.

Wake up people time is short….

Anon says:

The DEA does the same thing to catch “drug producers”. I know someone who’s in jail because the DEA convinced him to buy fake precursors and promised to teach him how to make a schedule one drug. As soon as the DEA sold him the fake chemicals they busted him for felony trafficing. There were never any real real drugs involved, there were no real precursors involved, and no one involved had any idea how to carry out the chemical procedures. If they DEA had never contacted him with promises of chemistry lessons and big profits he would have never even thought about drug production.

If you ever find youself alone with a federal drug attorney they’ll be able to tell you dozens of stories just like this one. They don’t necessarily want the law changed though because everyone the DEA busts brings in $50K for the lawyers.

ECA (profile) says:

A question

If this person was on his own…
HOW much would it cost him to set this up on his own?
WHAT would it TAKE to setup and plan? WITHOUT help from the FBI!

There are so many regulations and controls setup on ANYTHING that could be used to EXPLODE, its getting hard to even find rocket motors for sci class..
Next thing you know, they will regulate Vinegar and Soda, Because it can put an eye out.

F- says:


Hard to believe Americans are letting this happen.
I guess some people just like to be submissive.

Seriously people? What the hell are you waiting for? You want them to get the right to shoot you if you’re acting in a strange way? Because that’s what will happen if you let your government take away your rights any longer! Act now!

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