FBI recruits terrorists, arrests them

Last week, the FBI arrested a 19-year-old Oregon man named Mohamed Osman Mohamud on charges of planning to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting in downtown Portland.

The bust was another example of the Bureau’s domestic terror unit doing what it does best: cooking up fake terror plots and entrapping dumb bastards.

Turns out that Mohamud’s only co-conspirators were undercover FBI agents, who apparently held his hand through every stage of the so-called plot. The ersatz Al Qaeda even provided the guy with fake bomb, since Mohamud had no idea how to get his own.

This seems to be the government’s preferred method of fighting domestic terrorism—by first creating it.

We’ve got some experience with this here in the Sacramento area. Back in 2005, “eco-terrorist” Eric McDavid and his friends were practically recruited by a paid confidential informant working for the FBI. The informant, “Anna,” paid to rent the cabin that would serve as the group’s hideout and lab, provided the instructions for making explosives, and did her best to encourage the crew to get serious about picking targets and to “stick to a list” (see “Conspiracy of dunces” by Cosmo Garvin; SN&R Feature; July 27, 2006). The group never managed to create any explosives, but McDavid was sentenced to 20 years for the (thought) crime.

Likewise, Vang Pao, leader of the CIA-sponsored Hmong guerrilla fighters in the Vietnam war, and several Sacramento area associates were accused of plotting to overthrow the Laotian government in a terror plot that pretty quickly turned out to have been largely dreamed up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The charges have been dropped against Pao, but 11 alleged co-conspirators still face charges.

Since we’re all scared silly about the possibility of terrorism, we don’t call this kind of tactic entrapment, or call the government agents provocateurs.

Based on newspaper accounts of the investigation, Mohamud certainly sounds like a creep. What we don’t know—and this is almost always the case when the FBI announces a big terrorism bust—is how much cajoling and encouragement and manipulation goes on between the government agents and their mark.

It’s possible that the creep would have become a terrorist on his own. It seems more likely that many of these plots really only mature thanks to a great deal of care and feeding by the government.

Compiled from Snog.