from the truly,-the-A-bomb-drop-of-the-War-on-Terror dept
Another would-be terrorist is in the hands of law enforcement, thanks to a joint effort by the FBI and the St. Clair (Alabama) Sheriff's Department. (h/t The Free Thought Project)
An Alabama prosecutor says an 18-year-old has been charged with soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism, though details of the case aren't being released.County Judge Alan Furr set Pruitt's bail at $1 million and refused to lower it, despite evidence surfacing that the young man is developmentally-disabled (IQ estimated at 52-58, last tested at 51) and the total amount of "support" was "less than $1,000" -- a Class C felony, which normally results in much lower bail amounts. (The guidelines in the state's criminal procedure rules suggest a $5,000-$15,000 range, although judges are free to depart from this recommendation.)
St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor said Tuesday that 18-year-old Peyton Pruitt of St. Clair County was arrested and charged Friday.
Judge Alan Furr must not like alleged terrorist sympathizers. Two accused murderers and a teacher charged with sexual misconduct involving a student who previously faced Judge Furr combined for less than half the amount set for Pruitt ($450,000).
This is the dangerous terrorist now behind bars.
Witnesses, friends and family members uniformly described Pruitt as a "child" - a teenager with an IQ of 51 who cannot tie his own shoes, soils his clothes, has little verbal skills and lacks the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy.The FBI, which has never shown any reluctance to trumpet its ability to push mentally-challenged people towards acts of terrorism, doesn't have much to say about this particular bust. It seems content to let local law enforcement run with this one, bringing state charges rather than federal. But it's still behind the elevation of Pruitt from a guy who needs assistance using the restroom to a guy who provides assistance to enemies of the United States.
Chief Investigator Tommy Dixon testified, reading from an FBI transcript of a four-hour interview on Nov. 13 with Pruitt, that the teenager expressed sympathy with Islam and shared information on how to construct bombs that he obtained from Inspire, an online magazine linked to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. To access the information, Pruitt referred them to a Wicr [sic] account, an encrypted instant messaging application.Beyond quoting from FBI interview transcripts, local prosecutors and law enforcement have said nothing about the case. They claim they can't jeopardize an ongoing information. But it appears they may not actually be in possession of much more than what the FBI has handed them, which may not be everything it has.
Dixon said Pruitt had told the FBI "he would be happy" if acts of terrorism were carried out. "He felt it would be understandable," he said. He also suggested targets for terrorism, including the CIA headquarters, police stations and "big events" such as football games, Dixon said.
Under repeated questions from Pruitt's attorney Gibson Holladay, Dixon said his testimony came from the FBI transcript and not any first hand evidence. Holladay also questioned the logic of charging Pruitt with soliciting material support for a terrorist act by reading the statute and asking if Pruitt had provided a safe house, or false documents, or money, or transportation to terrorists. Dixon said he had no knowledge of whether he had or hadn't. Prosecutors objected to the questions.It certainly looks like the FBI realized it has a potential PR nightmare on its hands and somehow persuaded the locals to take the case. The agency is refusing to answer any questions, referring all queries to the St. Clair County District Attorney's office.
"All you've got is Peyton's statement, right?" Holladay said. "You couldn't tell me if Peyton contacted Santa Claus or a terrorist, can you? Was it a bomb or a recipe for banana pudding? You don't know, do you?"
The few things local prosecutors have actually said -- that aren't direct quotes from FBI paperwork -- have been completely ridiculous.
Dixon said in his testimony that the FBI is still reviewing Pruitt's computer. But several of Minor's questions suggested other evidence. During Waldrop's testimony, Minor asked if she would be surprised to learn Pruitt had used an encrypted website, she said yes.Both perfectly legal acts. I use an "encrypted website." (This apparently refers to Wickr, suggesting prosecutors really have no idea what they're actually dealing with.) I use Wickr and can quote from religious texts (even the unpopular ones). So what? Even combined, these two things add up to nothing. But these prosecutors are trying desperately to make both acts sound ominous and supportive of their assertions that an 18-year-old incapable of tying his own shoelaces posed a legitimate threat to those around him and, indeed, the security of the nation.
Reading statements, he asked, "Would it surprise you that he can quote the Koran?" She said yes.
Thanks to the same judge who refused to lower Pruitt's bail, prosecutors won't have to face any tough questions in the immediate future.
A St. Clair County judge sent the case of a teenager accused of soliciting support for a terrorist act onto a grand jury as part of a two-hour preliminary hearing in Pell City today.This is the normal chain of events for serious felonies in Alabama, but one that will allow the prosecutors to present the FBI's evidence without being challenged by incredulous defense attorneys or distracted by the sight of the defendant silently "rocking back and forth" while the next 1-10 years of his life are discussed.
From here, it looks as though the FBI has finally developed a sense of shame and has chosen to ditch this turdball with local prosecutors. Unfortunately, its sense of shame hasn't compelled it to drop the case or otherwise dissuade far-too-enthusiastic prosecutors from pursuing this further. Both ISIS and the FBI have a fondness for "useful idiots," but neither should actually find anything useful in a person who's mentally unable to handle their own bodily functions, much less contribute to a terrorist group in any meaningful way.