The Real Controversy Over The Non-Existent 'Bowling Green Massacre' Is That It Was The FBI's Own Plot

from the fake-news dept

We’ve already made our views clear on the horrible nature of the Trump administration’s ban on travelers who were born in seven predominantly Muslim countries. The administration has been trying to defend the program, but its talking points are (once again) falling apart. For example, the idea that this only “inconvenienced” a tiny percentage of people and was only temporary — government lawyers have now revealed that over 100,000 visas were permanently revoked. Permanently.

But the story that’s gotten a lot more attention is how Trump aide Kellyanne Conway went on TV last night and tried to back up another talking point: that this is no different than what President Obama did with Iraqi visas. That’s not true, but we’ll get to that. Even if it were true, Conway seemed to literally make up a terrorist attack that didn’t happen, calling it the “Bowling Green Massacre.”

Of course, there was no such massacre. This has resulted in lots and lots of social media mocking about the “massacre” that didn’t exist. Some of the mocking is actually quite funny. And, of course, you might want to go donate to the Bowling Green Massacre Fund to support the victims.

Conway, of course, has said that she merely misspoke and had meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” and then further pointed to a 2013 article about the two arrested Iraqis, claiming that it was a sign that “dozens” of terrorists could live in the US as refugees.

Even ignoring the ridiculous massacre claim, and accepting the idea that she just meant to say “terrorists”, absolutely everything about this story fails to make her point unless you actively distort it. Let’s dig in:

  • The two Iraqis were “terrorists” set to carry out a bombing plot. Nope. It turns out that the two guys arrested were involved yet another of the FBI’s “own plots.” If you’re new to this, for years we’ve covered how the FBI (rather than actually taking on criminal activity) has been inventing its own fake terrorist plots, and then using undercover agents and informants to bully dupes into “joining” the non-existent, FBI-created, FBI-financed, FBI-supplied “plots.” We’ve written about examples of this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again (so don’t go in the comments and ask why this story is on Techdirt…)

    And the “Bowling Green Terrorists” story is the same exact thing all over again:

    From that fall through the following spring, the FBI informant invited Alwan to participate in 10 operations to send weapons or money to Iraq.

  • There was no bombing plot against Americans. The FBI’s “own plot” here didn’t even involve attacks on America. It was just about sending (non-existent) money and weapons to Iraq:

    …throughout their interactions with undercover FBI agents in 2010 and 2011, Alwan and Hammadi never discussed plans to attack anyone or cause destruction on U.S. soil. And while they were found guilty of attempting to provide material support to al Queda militants back in Iraq, the men never indicated that they were personally in contact with any militants, attempted to procure weapons for such individuals, or attempted to provide any of their own money to such individuals. Rather, they showed up when and where the FBI informant told them to and helped physically load decoy supplies into whatever they were allegedly being shipped from.

  • There was never any support for the claim that they were part of a larger cell of terrorist refugees: Again, this was a tiny “plot” manufactured by the FBI to send weapons and money to Iraq, not to attack the US. And while Conway has been blowing up Twitter by claiming this ABC story proves that other refugee “terrorists” were here, that article is from 2013, and not a single other person has been arrested, no other terrorist plots associated with refugees (real or fake) have been found or (more importantly) taken place.

    Hell, even former DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller pointed out that the ABC story “is garbage”:

  • Conway claimed that the media didn’t report on the Bowling Green situation… but her proof that it happened is pointing to an article from ABC. Enough said on that.

  • What Obama did in response to that was different: This has been a key talking point for those supporting the ban. They claim that no one complained about Obama “ban” for six months on people from Iraq in response to the Bowling Green “terrorists.” Except that’s simply false. As has been carefully reported in a ton of places, what President Obama did in 2011 was entirely different. There was no ban. There was no stoppage. A single type of visa just had more stringent vetting put in place that briefly slowed the throughput of applications. If you want the most thorough explanation I’ve seen for just how different the two situations are, read the analysis at Foreign Policy Magazine.

  • Even if President Obama had done the same thing, people should still be upset: Because banning all people from a certain country or set of countries without a specific reason or threat, and (in the process) wreaking havoc on the lives of tons of people, including permanent residents and American citizens, deserves to be condemned as simply cruel.

In summary, Kellyanne Conway is using a non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” to defend an inhumane policy, based on falsely arguing that two refugees, who were ensnared in a plot created by the FBI to send fake money and fake weapons back to Iraq (and not to attack America), were the tip of the iceberg of a bunch of refugee terrorists (who didn’t actually exist) planning to attack America (which never happened) and because of that fake plot, fake massacre and fake terrorists, President Obama similarly banned people from Iraq — which was something he didn’t do. Is that about the sum of it?

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Comments on “The Real Controversy Over The Non-Existent 'Bowling Green Massacre' Is That It Was The FBI's Own Plot”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Look, it’s really very simple:

If the story/facts support The Official Position = Real news. Double-Plus Good Real News at that.

If the story/facts contradict The Official Position = Fake news.

The ‘Bowling Green Massacre’ supports the official position, hence it’s Real News. The people pointing out the insignificant details like a complete and total lack of supporting evidence undermining the Bowling Green Massacre story undermine Real News, and therefore are spreading fake news.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The more insane reality gets the harder it becomes to make a good poe and/or sarcastic comment, because no matter how nuts you make your comment it’s still not that far off from what is or what some people want to be.

Take one of my comments a while back, wherein I discussed the horrors of private conversations unheard by the proper authorities. Sure I wasn’t being serious, but if the comments that inspired mine were any indication there exists more than a few people who would see what I wrote, think I was being totally serious and agree with what I was saying.

Fiction has nothing on reality when it comes to crazy and/or boneheaded stupidity at times.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

We should get some department to look into these terrorists known as the ‘FBI’. They create terrorist ‘plots’ to influence & frighten the public. They target individuals whom they can sway, by feeding them false information to get them to take the blame for the actions of the ‘FBI’.

They are working to undermine the freedoms of our homeland, using our own money & systems against us. This type of terrorism should be stopped. It is shameful that out leaders blindly supported these supposed allies who have created numerous plots we are aware of and quite possibly dozens more they hide from view, to maintain our financial and legal support while tearing the country apart.

Our leadership is willing to turn a blind eye to these events, hoping to score political capital at the expense of the safety & well being of citizens. What kind of monsters would risk the safety of the country they pledged to protect, to get good soundbites while ignoring real threats to further a political agenda.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Indeed. While the progressive liberals were all, “The Russkies done stole de election!!” there was a deafening silence from that side about how the FBI stuck their oar in for Trump (not that it made the blindest bit of difference due to the partisan divide).

It’s the partisan pattycake game that keeps them in the state of impunity they currently enjoy. If Americans should ever start thinking on a freedom V tyranny axis instead of the left/right one that keeps them so divideed they’d soon find themselves brought to heel. A girl can dream.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Trump promised a Muslim ban. In order to give the illusion of keeping his promise, it does not need to be effective.

Saudi Arabia – along with the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and others – were left out of the ban because of heavy investment. Including Trump’s own investments.

Syria is in fact predominantly Muslim. 87% of the population. And that’s before the ethnic cleansing of recent years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In order to give the illusion of keeping his promise, it does not need to be effective.

Do not fool yourself. The only reason this is only 7 countries is because its just the first step on a plan to shut down all immigration. President Bannon isn’t just a muslim hater, he’s a brown person hater. He’s literally on the record complaining that there are too many asians in silicon valley.

Muslims are the easiest target because the news has been hyping anti-muslim hate for 15 years now. Then there is the wall with Mexico. But they are coming for everybody. H1B restrictions are the next step. And as much as I have been complaining about H1B abuses for over 20 years, if I have to choose between H1B abuses and Bannon’s goal to make america white again, I will have to reluctantly side with H1B abuse.

Pastor Martin Niemöller is as relevant today as he’s ever been:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Muslims are the easiest target because the news has been hyping anti-muslim hate for 15 years now.

Actually the exact opposite is true – the press has actually been trying to disassociate Islam from the terrorist acts.

If you were really concerned about injustice you would be protesting about the plight of Christians and other minorities in Islamic lands – here is some educational reading for you.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Gimme a break:

Methinks the problem is religion in general. These two have been killing EACH OTHER for forever and a day.

I love the way god warriors portray this as a one sided offense. Christians forget all the atrocities they have caused throughout history.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Mr masnick, in order for a lie to be effective, a victim cannot realize plot. Please make better next time. There is no Muslim ban. Syria is not predominantly Muslim, and Saudi Arabia with 100% state religion did not even made a cut to list compiled by Obama administration.”

Hey, genius, this isn’t as difficult as you’re trying to make it out to be. For this to be a Muslim ban, it need not ban EVERY Muslim. If the ban is selectively attempting to ban Muslims, even Muslims from a select group of countries, it’s still an attempt to specifically ban Muslims.

Which is what this did. The countries banned are predominantly Muslim, and there are preferences carved out once the ban is lifted for non-Muslims. And, since you’re a special kind of idiot, Syria IS not just predominantly Muslim, but it’s OVERWHELMINGLY Muslim. They don’t do census data any more since 1960 because the country can’t be bothered to do basic civil services, nevermind actually conduct a fucking census, but at last count it was north of 90% Muslim. Unless you can cite something credible that shows a drastic change from that number, you clearly have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about….

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Syria IS not just predominantly Muslim, but it’s OVERWHELMINGLY Muslim.

And the way in which a predominantly Christian country got that way ought to give pause for thought – think grey squirrels and red squirrels.

And of course, just like with islam there is a grey squirrel apologist site.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Trump promised a Muslim ban – then found that he couldn’t easily implement it (within the constitution) and so created something that is designed to look like a Muslim ban to those who supported it.

Of course even an actual Muslim ban would have been pointless and ineffective. However I believe what he was trying to do was to send a signal that in future we would call a spade a spade when it comes to Islamic terrorism. (In sharp contrast to the words of even GWBush and many republicans – let alone Obama).

That would have been a good idea if he had found a better way of doing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

he was trying to do was to send a signal that in future we would call a spade a spade when it comes to Islamic terrorism. (In sharp contrast to the words of even GWBush and many republicans – let alone Obama).

Do you know what they call "islamic terrorism" in muslim countries? Terrorism. Because the islamic part isn’t relevant. It only looks relevant to people under the spell of correspondence bias.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Do you know what they call "islamic terrorism" in muslim countries? Terrorism.

Well they would say that wouldn’t they?

You sound like a shill for Erdogan.

However the terrorists themselves shout islamic slogans when they commit these acts. And that is the motive they claim themselves for their actions.

They don’t call it terrorism they call it jihad. See, it is so well entrenched that they even have a special word for it.

I at least will respect these people enough to actually believe them when they echo the "prophet" who said "I have been made victorious with terror".

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Do you know what they call “islamic terrorism” in muslim countries? Terrorism”

Also, it’s worth noting that in many of those countries, the victims of terrorism are also the major group of victims, usually being killed off by Muslims of other sects. But they don’t count, because a lot of people outside those countries are too ignorant to know the differences, and have been brainwashed into thinking of them as a single group rather than a diverse group of people.

It might be worth specifying Islamic terrorism to differentiate it from the many other types of terrorism. The problem is so many have been fooled into not only believing that no other type of terrorism exists, but that the victims of it should still be treated as enemies.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, Saudi Arabia, our useful ally and home of the sort of radical Islam that actually spawns Islam-flavoured terrorist groups, never seems to make the cut. And right now the US gov is too busy with it’s Saudi-US killing spree to ban anyone from there anyway.

He promised a Muslim ban and asked how he could legally ban Muslims, multiple times. Never mind that Mike didn’t refer to it as a Muslim ban, but the automatic argument against calling it a Muslim ban is telling.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

These days, not a lot. The US isn’t nearly as dependant on Saudi Arabian oil as it used to be. It’s pulled its troops out of the country. And of course Trump doesn’t have the Bush family’s ties to the House of Saud.

Go back to the Iraq occupation and, well, sorry; I have a pet peeve about people who used to claim that invading Iraq was about getting cheap oil. (Yes, probably not what you were implying.)

In reality the "liberated" Iraq was always going to remain a member of OPEC. Any cheap oil America would get, would never offset the oil burned by moving half a million soldiers – and their equipment, tanks helicopters, ships etc., half-way around the planet. REPEATEDLY, as troops were constantly rotated back home. And resupplying them from half-way around the world. And returning the whole thing home.

The Bush family – and their friends the House of Saud – are in the oil business. They don’t want cheap oil. The more expensive oil is, the more money they make.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

If I understand correctly, oil prices have recovered somewhat. Back up to $50/barrel after going as low as $35.

But apparently the Saudis are seeing the writing on the wall. 70% of Saudi nationals hold public service jobs, many only working for an hour each day, funded by petrodollars. But changes are being made so that government workers can now be fired, don’t get automatic promotions and face pay cuts. Taxes are bring implemented and government services privatized. They’re trying to convert to a more normal economy.

Anonymous Coward says:

One of these FBI plots is going to go sideways

If they keep doing this, then eventually someone is going to be clever enough to bait them into supporting a plot that actually does exist and just needs some help. Entrapment works both ways, after all. Of course we all know how the horrible outcome will be explained away: “Nobody could have foreseen…”

Justme says:

Face Value.

Let say they are sincere in their goals, someone in the press still needs to press them on their claims and they need to back them with facts and layout proposed policy changes, i would like to see a reporter put these questions to Trump.

I would assume that the administration evaluated the current vetting process in reaching their decision to try to implement extreme vetting, could you tell me in that evaluation what did you consider to be the weakest link in the current process, please describe what we current do and layout the changes you would implement to strengthen that weakness?

How will those changes be more effective in excluding likely terrorist while minimizing the impact on completely innocent refuge’s who are simply trying to save their families and escape a war zone, people who i think most American’s believe we can and should be helping?

Anonymous Coward says:


“Even if President Obama had done the same thing, people should still be upset…”

Let’s not lose sight of Kellyanne’s intent here. She wants us to believe that we’re being unfair to The Donald when we take him to task for evils that we forgave President Obama (well, okay – not actually forgave, but probably would have, according to Kellyanne’s deluded, Fascist, internal monologue).

Truthiness – it’s a Republican thing.

GEMont (profile) says:

The Faithful don't need no stinking facts!

Doesn’t matter at all that the whole thing was a complete fabrication. Her broadcast fabrication accomplished its purpose perfectly.

Those who want to believe that T.Rump is chosen by Gawd, to make Amerika Grate Again” will accept Conway’s Bullshit, as 100% Gospel and no amount of facts or evidence to the contrary can ever convince such people that it’s not.

The Bowling Green Massacre is now a part of their reality, regardless of evidence to the contrary, now, or in future.

Moreover, any evidence produced to prove her story is BS, will indeed, only convince such people that the “Librul Meedya” is lying to make their Saint Conway; chosen of Lord Rump, look bad.

When dealing with people of high faith and low to no intellect, one must realize that only those statements that reinforce their beliefs are ever given credence.

All else is the Devil’s work.

To try and explain reality through evidence and facts to faith-based believers, is likely the single most futile exercise conceivable.

All that your correct and factual explanation has done, is given intelligent people around the world a giggle, while more firmly entrenching the faithful morons in their spoon-fed siege mentality and in fact, has given them “proof” that the “Librul Meedya” always lies.

After all, if you believe that Conway spoke the whole truth, then anything stated in contradiction must be a lie.

For those of us whose brains are not permanently located in heaven however, this was an excellent article.


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