FBI Celebrates Taking Down A 'Terrorist' Who Told Undercover Agents He Couldn't Go Through With An Attack

from the wherein-'thwart'-means-'standing-by-idly-while-events-take-their-cou dept

The FBI has proudly announced its kicking of another goal into the unguarded War on Terrorism net. And the press rejoices:

The enthusiastic republishing of the FBI’s narrative does little more than rewrite the DOJ’s press release. Very few have dug into the charging documents. If they had, they might not have depicted a terrorist attack that was never going to happen as somehow being “thwarted” by the arrest of a 26-year-old man reeling from the recent loss of his children in a custody battle.

According to the criminal complaint [PDF], Everitt Jameson was planning to detonate explosives at Pier 39 in San Francisco, a popular destination for tourists. The lead-up to Jameson’s arrest (and supposed “thwarting”) was filled with FBI informants and undercover agents, but not a single actual member of a terrorist group.

The investigation began with a paid informant passing on Jameson’s Facebook activity to the FBI.

On September 19, 2017, a credible FBI Confidential Human Source (CHS) who has accurately reported to the FBI on national security matters in the past, reported a suspicious Facebook account. The Facebook persona was Everitt Aaron Jameson, vanity everittj. The Facebook id # was hidden. The CHS reported Jameson was “Liking” and “Loving” posts that were pro-ISIS and pro-terrorism. To provide an example of the types of posts Jameson was “Liking” and “Loving” during this time period, the CHS reported to the FBI that Jameson “loved” a post on November 29, 2017 that is an image of Santa Claus standing in New York with a box of dynamite. The text of the post reads, “ISIS post image of Santa with dynamite threatening attack on New York.” The Propaganda poster shows Santa Claus standing on a roof next to a box of dynamite looking out over a crowd of shoppers with the words “We meet at Christmas in New York… soon.” Under this post, Jameson selected the “Like” option and then selected the “Heart” option to signify that he “Loved” the post.

As we’ve noted before, “liking” social media posts is not the same thing as endorsing the content. Jameson may have liked the sentiments expressed, but it doesn’t immediately follow he would be willing to engage in violent acts of terrorism. That’s not what the FBI thought, though. Rather than monitor the account and open a preliminary investigation, the FBI decided to get involved. Undercover agents began communicating with Jameson pretending to be ISIS members. Over the next couple of months, agents frequently exchanged messages and met with Jameson, nudging him towards committing an act of terrorism.

Jameson pledged his limited utility to the cause, fulfilling the expected “material support” charges by offering use of his tow truck and his (very brief) background as a US Marine. (Jameson was discharged shortly after basic training for failing to disclose his asthma.) He also said he could kick in about $400 a month.

Jameson did state he was considering something along the lines of the San Bernardino shootings or the New York attack in which a vehicle was driven into a crowd. But the FBI was more interested in getting Jameson to build bombs. Jameson was compliant, but seemingly unable to actually acquire the supplies to build them.

UCE2 asked Jameson what assistance the UCE2 could provide. Jameson stated that he needed ammunition, powder, tubing, and nails. When asked what kind of a weapon he would need, Jameson noted that he would prefer an assault rifle. He also explained that he was trained in both the M-16 and an AK-47 rifle. Jameson also stated that he needed timers and remote detonators (presumably for the explosive charges Jameson previously described to the UCE2). Jameson said that he could get the PVC pipe, nails, and powder (presumably, black powder used for commercial explosives and ammunition).

That conversation happened on December 16th. On December 18th, no further preparation for the attack had been done by Jameson. The undercover agent tried to arrange another meeting about the attack plans, but was rebuffed by Jameson.

Later during the evening, the UCE2 contacted Jameson to discuss arranging a follow-up meeting. Jameson responded by indicating that he had been “very busy tonight.” Moreover, Jameson told the UCE2, “I also don’t think I can do this after all. I’ve reconsidered.” The UCE2 stated, “We only can do Allahs will,” and Jameson replied “In Sha Allah one day I can. But I can’t.”

Rather than keep tabs on the little terrorist that couldn’t, the FBI decided to call in its markers. It acquired a search warrant for Jameson’s residence one day later. The search uncovered some handguns, a rifle, 13 rounds of ammunition, and four fireworks. The feds also found his handwritten note pledging allegiance to ISIS and Jameson’s will, signed and executed on November 11th.

As far as the complaint states, Jameson was never in contact with any suspected ISIS members. All discussions about a terrorist attack involved at least one FBI undercover agent. Jameson himself took himself out of play by stating he couldn’t go through with the planned attack. This statement was made before supplies were gathered or a storage area obtained to assemble and store the bombs. The “terrorist” who “thwarted” his own attack sounds very much like a person looking for some sort of direction in his life after a traumatic divorce and chose exactly the wrong sort of people to identify with. That his closest contacts during this period were FBI agents interested in securing a terrorism bust does little to further the narrative of ticking terrorist time bomb disarmed at the last minute by heroic G-men.

One wonders how many discussions about attacking America Jameson would have engaged in if simply left alone. Or if he would have come up with plans to blow up part of San Francisco if he hadn’t found supposedly like-minded ISIS supporters to talk to. It’s impossible to say Jameson never would have engaged in violence, but the criminal complaint shows Jameson did nothing more than click Facebook buttons before the FBI got involved. And for that, he’s probably going to go to prison for a long time. It seems Jameson would have benefited from a few more positive role models. But steering confused and depressed people away from sympathizing with ISIS doesn’t make headlines. And it certainly doesn’t help keep the lights on at the FBI.

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Comments on “FBI Celebrates Taking Down A 'Terrorist' Who Told Undercover Agents He Couldn't Go Through With An Attack”

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Anonymous Coward says:

But you won't consider for a second that FBI fabricated "Trump-Russia collusion"?

Logic and suspicion fail, both.

Here, up today and easily found, is far more important and vastly more credible allegations that Techdirt actively ignores:

“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation? – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2017”


Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: It's about ruling OUT collusion. (Or rather ruling out harm by collusion.)

If I recall correctly, there is incriminating evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. It’s nailed. If Trump were one of us lowly prole shlubs, Trump and his minions go to court. There’d be about a 90% chance of conviction each and some of them would get to go to minimum security for a few years.

(Much like Clinton regarding classified State data on a personal server — she committed the same crimes that many whistleblowers of the Obama administration did, and if tried under the CFAA or Espionage acts would get more years time than murder. Clinton remains an example of inequality under law.)

But the FBI special prosecution is serving to rule out wrongdoing by the Trump campaign by showing, as with Clinton, that no harm was done.

Otherwise, it’s a shoe-in conviction: An awful lot of people in the Trump campaign had an awful lot of contact with Russian aristocrats who all personally know Putin. And then they told an awful lot of lies denying such contacts that were revealed only after they were in new offices.

And then there’s the matter of electoral influence by the Russian government, both by their hacker army and by their professional trolls.

Now, I agree with you, Anonymous Coward that the FBI has shown a lack of competence as a law-enforcement agency for at least a decade. I’d prefer if the collusion investigation was conducted by an agent that was more adept and determining guilt from innocence. And the FBI is not a neutral entity, tending to lean towards conservative, status-quo-serving positions.

I’d prefer to defer to an inquisitional investigation by an international tribunal. But that’s not my choice to make.

Besides which, there are tons of crimes against humanity done by the United States that would become fair play to such an international tribunal. And a European-based tribunal would be all over our torture, mercenary use and targeted killings like sharks on chum.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: But you won't consider for a second that FBI fabricated "Trump-Russia collusion"?

What about Clinton and the scandal with Lewinsky? What about Nixon and watergate? What about President Mc-10th and the buggy-whip scandal????????? WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT TRUMP HAS A TINY PENIS?!!??!?!?!?!?!

Newsflash: even if those are topics worth discussing this is not the focus here. You can open your own blog and publish articles on those if you wish. Start with the tiny penis one for our amusement.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Confidential Human Source”? can the confidential source be anything other than human?

if so, i guess the FBI’s new term for hiding from/burying open access records for IMSI catcher / interception devices is either
“Confidential Inhuman Source”
“Confidential Silicon Source”
“Confidential Electronic Source”

or… something similar?

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve always understood that phrase as being intended not to distinguish a “confidential source which is human” from a “confidential source which is not human”, but to distinguish a “human source which is confidential” from a “human source which is not confidential”.

(As that would seem to imply, non-human sources which are not confidential also exist; examples would include things like phone taps, wiretaps, and so forth, though that latter can cover a multitude of sins. It might also include the more controversial areas of algorithmic surveillance, in which case the entity serving as the source of the report could indeed be not-human.)

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, conspiracy is a crime. See, for example 18 U.S.C. sec. 371. Under that section, if

  • two or more people
  • agree
  • to commit a federal crime
  • and at least one of them does "any act to effectuate the object of the conspiracy"

Then all are guilty of conspiracy, whether or not the contemplated crime is ever committed.

There are other, more specific conspiracy statutes, and state laws also provide for nearly-identical offenses.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Actually, I think it’s more that conspiracy to commit a crime is itself a crime, whereas conspiracy to do something which is not a crime is not.

The dictionary definition works perfectly well in both cases; it’s just that the original commenter didn’t bother to specify the "to commit a crime" part, taking it as implied by the context, whereas you’re not willing to read that implication into the text.

Both positions are reasonable, but without reconciling them, meaningful discussion of the subject (or possibly even as little as meaningful communication) cannot occur.

Valkor says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just skimming the attached complaint, no one “effectuated” anything.

You have a ding-dong talking about building pipe bombs at a “remote campground”(wthf?) and that’s it.

Even according to the timeline, in a meeting on the 16th, the FBI told him to think about it and make sure that he was serious. He said he was, but by the 18th, he was calling it off. Not exactly a hardened criminal!!

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Do you want to bet the safety of innocent people on how this guy felt at any particular point in time?

Well, I suppose the could have gone for the opposite approach – encourage the disturbed gentleman to purchase a reasonably-sized arsenal of small arms and then ignore any signs of increasing mental instability until he shoots up a school or shopping mall… That seems to be the most popular US approach to such things (unless you’ve got brown skin or any connection, however vague, to nutters that happen to have). It’s certainly cheaper, if not as headline grabbing.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Or, and this is going to sound utterly insane but hear me out, they could instead take the funding they use to string along desperate, angry, and/or mentally challenged people into plots so they can ‘bust a terrorist’, and use it to give them actual help.

Finding them a job, housing, food, psychological help, whatever they need to get on their feet and in a situation where shooting up a bunch of people is rightly seem as an abhorrent idea to be vehemently avoided.

But since ‘FBI helps person get back on their feet’ doesn’t feed the ‘Terrorists are everywhere, give us money and power so we can protect you!‘ narrative, not be mention being downright boring, I don’t imagine they’d be all that interested in that particular way of ‘fighting terrorism’.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I hadn’t heard of it before either, but just within the past 24 hours (looking over my mother’s shoulder, since I don’t do Facebook myself) I’ve seen her pass over the thumbs-up Like button for a heart-shaped Love button on a post that appeared in her feed.

Not sure when they started doing that, but apparently it is indeed a thing they do.

David says:

Re: Re:

The problem with the actual terrorists is that they are not as dependable as the budget requirements from a large department like terrorist prevention of the FBI.

For a similar reason, nobody does product-based software engineering relying on programming superheroes rather than run-of-the-mill replaceable grunts. Because you cannot plan a product with the former. They are not a renewable resource.

So the FBI is rely dependent on not outsourcing all of their terrorism requirements but producing some in-house, both for budgeting and training reasons. Otherwise they cannot produce dependable numbers and targets for their terrorism prevention product.

Any business major will tell you that you have to take charge of your market.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

At this point I distrust any news that the FBI thwarted an alleged terror plot.

Since soon or later it turns out that they thwarted a terror plot except not really or …that the FBI invented from whole cloth as an entrapment / sting operation.

Really, it makes the Feds look desperate for collars because there aren’t enough real criminals in this world. And mentally disabled immigrants are an easy mark.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Given how these are Top Men, I await the time their patsy gets out of their control & something horrible happens.
They like to play with fake bombs and things, but what happens when the asset decides to go dark & complete the mission on his own?
Think the FBI will admit they put it into motion?

We honestly need to look at why they are so focused on this & ignoring actual problems citizens face. I have a feeling its Congress wanting headlines to cash in on that directly affects the budget process.

We need to stop feeding into the ZOMG narrative & demand we face reality. We have millions of people hit by ID theft, but our resources are devoted to creating terrorists. Fake crimes are more important that real crimes harming real people.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Given how these are Top Men, I await the time their patsy gets out of their control & something horrible happens.
They like to play with fake bombs and things, but what happens when the asset decides to go dark & complete the mission on his own?

No need to wonder, if one of their past cases is any indication they will take a few pictures and then drive away, because hey, stopping real threats is just too much damn work, not to mention dangerous, and they didn’t sign up for that sort of job.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Or the cynical question of did they let it happen for the publicity?
It was a high profile event, with lots of people who would retell the harrowing story of the jihadis coming after them over cartoons.

Or were they so far out of the loop that they didn’t know they were ready to play shoot’em up.

Both of these questions are troubling…

Anonymous Coward says:

operation: anti-troll

These kind of FBI operations might serve one useful purpose, taking down internet trolls. Like the kind who advocate pedophilia, terrorism, and just about everything else that tends to get a strong reaction out of people. Trolls might soon get the message that role playing is not just harmless fun.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: operation: anti-troll

But thats the DoJ’s job right now.
Remember they sought information on people who merely viewed things on the internet, or posted so they could try and run as many people as possible through the wringer to make people decide protesting isn’t worth it.
When the AUSA tells the jury reasonable doubt doesn’t mean anything during closing… you gotta think justice is dead.

Personanongrata says:

Act III, Scene V, US government Security Theater: Beware the Bogeyman

FBI Celebrates Taking Down A ‘Terrorist’ Who Told Undercover Agents He Couldn’t Go Through With An Attack

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is up for renewal and it is time for our heroes at FBI (etal) to run in circles, scream and shout and wave their arms all-about in another attempt at inducing fear driven mass psychosis amongst Americans so that we may willingly surrender our Rights for more bogus US government (tax-payer funded of course) safety boondoggles.

How far America has fallen.

It was 240 some odd years ago when Patrick Henry gave voice to his famous oration of 23Mar1775:

"Give me liberty, or give me death!


Present day US government agents/spokespersons have completely forsworn Patrick Henry’s challenge to the British Crown (ie power) and have conspired to work hand, foot and mouth in attempting to deny Americans their inherent Rights under the guise of providing safety/security. Their pathetic slogan could be summed up with the following sentence:

Give up your liberties or we are all going to die!

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