Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Documentary Palestine Papers

From: Palestinian Refugees Right to Return - Al-Awda
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bulletin from the cause: Palestinian Refugees Right to Return - Al-Awda

Documentary Palestine Papers

Well worth watching!

The interviews with Laila Al-Arian, Ali Abunimah and Dr. Salman Abu
Sitta took place at the last Al-Awda Convention (April 30, 2011
week-end) in Garden Grove California.

Echoes of Korematsu

The Holy Land Five Case

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and my father remains incarcerated in a modern-day internment camp, the time in which we live begins to feel less like 2011 and more like 1942. But this week could determine whether today’s justice system is capable of rewriting the sad chapters of our history. I say this week because on Thursday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the long-awaited oral arguments in the Holy Land Foundation case, involving what was once our country’s largest Muslim charitable organization.

Meet my father, Ghassan Elashi. The co-founder of the HLF. Inmate number 29687-177, sentenced to 65 years in prison for his charity work in Palestine. He is an American citizen from Gaza City, who before his imprisonment, took part in the immigration rally in Downtown Dallas, joining the half a million people wearing white, chanting ¡Si, se puede! The prison walls have not hindered his voice, as he writes to me, heartbroken about the homes destroyed during the earthquake in Haiti, the young protesters killed indiscriminately in Syria, the children lost to the famine in Somalia. Most frequently, he writes to me about the Japanese-American internment.

Now meet Fred T. Korematsu, who after Peal Harbor was among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans ordered to live in internment camps. This was in 1942, when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the military detainment of Japanese-Americans to ten concentration camps during World War II. Mr. Korematsu defied orders to be interned, because he viewed the forced removal as unconstitutional. So on May 30, 1942, Mr. Korematsu was arrested. His case was argued all the way to the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled against him, stating that his incarnation was justified due to military necessity.
Nearly forty years later, in 1983, Mr. Korematsu’s case was reopened, and on Nov. 10, 1983, the conviction was overturned. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel notably said, “It stands as a caution that, in times of international hostility and antagonisms, our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to exercise their authority to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused.”
Fast-forward six years. It’s already 1989, when my father co-finds the HLF, which becomes a prominent American Muslim charity that provides relief—through clothes, food, blankets and medicine—to Palestinians and other populations in desperate need. Then, in 1996, President Clinton signs the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, giving birth to the Material Support Statute, a law that in time would come under fire by civil libertarians for profiling and targeting Arab and Muslim Americans.

Two years later, in 1998, Clinton awards Mr. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest citizen honor, condemning Mr. Korematsu’s persecution as a shameful moment in our history.
Three years later, the towers fall.

And President Bush declares a “War on Terror.”

In 2001, President Bush signs the Patriot Act, which strengthens the Material Support Statue. The law’s language is so vague that it gives prosecutors the authority to argue that humanitarian aid to designated terrorist organizations could be indirect, and therefore, a crime.

In my father’s case, he is charged with conspiring to give Material Support in the form of humanitarian aid to Palestinian distribution centers called zakat committees. Prosecutors admit the zakat committees on the indictment were not designated terrorist groups, but according to the indictment released in 2004, these zakat committees are “controlled by” or act “on behalf of” Hamas, which was designated in 1995. Their theory is that by providing charity to zakat committees, the HLF helped Hamas win the “hearts and minds” of the Palestinian people.

The HLF case was tried in 2007, lasting three months, and after 19 days of deliberations, the jury deadlocked on most counts. The judge declared a mistrial and the case was tried the following year.
In 2008, after essentially the same arguments, the retrial ended with the jury returning all guilty verdicts, and in 2009, my father was sentenced to 65 years in prison, for essentially giving humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
In 2010, my father was transferred to a “Communications Management Unit” in Marion, Illinois—the aforementioned modern-day internment camp. The CMU received the nickname “Guantanamo North” by National Public Radio since two-thirds of its inmates are Middle Eastern or Muslim. The purpose of this prison—which has another branch in Terre Haute, Indiana—is to closely monitor inmates and limit their communications with their families, attorneys and the media. Thus, I only get to hear my father’s voice once every two weeks, for fifteen minutes. And our visitations take place behind an obtrusive Plexiglass wall.
My father and his co-defendants—now called the Holy Land Five—are in the final stages of the appeal as the oral arguments approach on Thursday. In the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans, defense attorneys will urge the panel of three justices to reverse the HLF convictions based on errors that took place in the trial process.
According to the appellate brief, there’s a major fact that undermines the prosecution’s claim that Hamas controlled the zakat committees: “The United States Agency for International Development—which had strict instructions not to deal with Hamas—provided funds over many years to zakat committees named in the indictment, including the Jenin, Nablus, and Qalqilia committees,” writes my father’s attorney, John Cline. He continues stating that in 2004, upon the release of the HLF indictment, “USAID provided $47,000 to the Qalqilia zakat committee.”

Furthermore, defense attorneys will argue that the district court:
a) Violated the right to due process by allowing a key witness to testify without providing his real name, thereby abusing my father’s right to confront his witness. They are referring to an Israeli intelligence officer who became the first person in U.S. history permitted to testify as an expert witness using a pseudonym.
b) Abused its discretion by allowing “inflammatory evidence of little or no probative value,” which included multiple scenes of suicide bombings.
c) Deviated from the sentencing guidelines when they sentenced my father to 65 years.
When putting the lawyerly language aside, human rights attorneys have deemed the HLF case as purely political, perpetrated by the Bush administration. Likewise, the decision to intern Japanese-Americans was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria and failure of political leadership,” according to a 1982 report by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.

I can only hope that my father’s vindication won’t take 40 years as it did for Mr. Korematsu. Let us learn from our old wrongs.
Noor Elashi is a writer based in New York City. She holds a Creative Writing MFA from The New School.
This op-ed was inspired by a forward written by Karen Korematsu in the upcoming book, “Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice,” which includes a chapter about my father. You can purchase a copy here:

NYPD monitored where Muslims ate, shopped, prayed

By ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press August 31, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — From an office on the Brooklyn waterfront in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New York Police Department officials and a veteran CIA officer built an intelligence-gathering program with an ambitious goal: to map the region's ethnic communities and dispatch teams of undercover officers to keep tabs on where Muslims shopped, ate and prayed.

The program was known as the Demographics Unit and, though the NYPD denies its existence, the squad maintained a long list of "ancestries of interest" and received daily reports on life in Muslim neighborhoods, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The documents offer a rare glimpse into an intelligence program shaped and steered by a CIA officer. It was an unusual partnership, one that occasionally blurred the line between domestic and foreign spying. The CIA is prohibited from gathering intelligence inside the U.S.

Undercover police officers, known as rakers, visited Islamic bookstores and cafes, businesses and clubs. Police looked for businesses that attracted certain minorities, such as taxi companies hiring Pakistanis. They were told to monitor current events, keep an eye on community bulletin boards inside houses of worship and look for "hot spots" of trouble.

The Demographics Unit, a team of 16 officers speaking at least five languages, is the only squad of its kind known to be operating in the country.

Using census information and government databases, the NYPD mapped ethnic neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Rakers then visited local businesses, chatting up store owners to determine their ethnicity and gauge their sentiment, the documents show. They played cricket and eavesdropped in the city's ethnic cafes and clubs.

When the CIA would launch drone attacks in Pakistan, the NYPD would dispatch rakers to Pakistani neighborhoods to listen for angry rhetoric and anti-American comments, current and former officials involved in the program said.

The rakers were looking for indicators of terrorism and criminal activity, the documents show, but they also kept their eyes peeled for other common neighborhood sites such as religious schools and community centers.

The focus was on a list of 28 countries that, along with "American Black Muslim," were considered "ancestries of interest." Nearly all were Muslim countries.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week that the NYPD does not take religion into account in its policing. The inclusion of American black Muslims on the list of ancestries of interest suggests that religion was at least a consideration. On Wednesday, Bloomberg's office referred questions to the police department.

How law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, can stay ahead of Islamic terrorists without using racial profiling techniques has been hotly debated since 9/11. Singling out minorities for extra scrutiny without evidence of wrongdoing has been criticized as discriminatory. Not focusing on Muslim neighborhoods has been equally criticized as political correctness run amok. The documents describe how the nation's largest police force has come down on that issue.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the department only follows leads and does not simply trawl communities.

"We do not employ undercovers or confidential informants unless there is information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity," Browne wrote in an email to the AP.

That issue has legal significance. The NYPD says it follows the same guidelines as the FBI, which cannot use undercover agents to monitor communities without first receiving an allegation or indication of criminal activity.

Before The Associated Press revealed the existence of the Demographics Unit last week, Browne said neither the Demographics Unit nor the term "rakers" exist. Both are contained in the documents obtained by the AP.

An NYPD presentation, delivered inside the department, described the mission and makeup of the Demographics Unit. And a police memorandum from 2006 described an NYPD supervisor rebuking an undercover detective for not doing a good enough job reporting on community events and "rhetoric heard in cafes and hotspot locations."

At least one lawyer inside the police department has raised concerns about the Demographics Unit, current and former officials told the AP. Because of those concerns, the officials said, the information gathered from the unit is kept on a computer at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, not in the department's normal intelligence database. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence programs.

The AP independently authenticated the NYPD presentation through an interview with an official who sat through it and by reviewing electronic data embedded in the file. A former official who had not seen the presentation said the content of the presentation was correct. For the internal memo, the AP verified the names and locations mentioned in the document, and the content is consistent with a program described by numerous current and former officials.

In the two years following the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD Intelligence Division had an unusual partnership with Lawrence Sanchez, a respected veteran CIA officer who was dispatched to New York. Officials said he was instrumental in creating programs such as the Demographics Unit and met regularly with unit supervisors to guide the effort, all while on the CIA's payroll.

Both the NYPD and CIA have said the agency is not involved in domestic spying. A U.S. official familiar with the NYPD-CIA partnership described Sanchez's time in New York as a unique assignment created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

After a two-year CIA rotation in New York, Sanchez took a leave of absence, came off the agency's payroll and became the NYPD's second-ranking intelligence official. He formally left the agency in 2007 and stayed with the NYPD until last year.

Recently, the CIA dispatched another officer to work in the Intelligence Division as an assistant to Deputy Commissioner David Cohen. Officials described the assignment as a management sabbatical and said the officer's job is much different from what Sanchez was doing. Police and the CIA said it's the kind of counterterrorism collaboration Americans expect.

The NYPD Intelligence Division has unquestionably been essential to the city's best counterterrorism successes, including the thwarted plot to bomb the subway system in 2004. Undercover officers also helped lead to the guilty plea of two men arrested on their way to receive terrorism training in Somalia.

"We throw 1,200 police officers into the fight every day to make sure the same people or similarly inspired people who killed 3,000 New Yorkers a decade ago don't come back and do it again," Browne said earlier this month when asked about the NYPD's intelligence tactics.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, a Democrat who represents much of Brooklyn and sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the NYPD can protect the city without singling out specific ethnic and religious groups. She joined Muslim organizations in calling for a Justice Department investigation into the NYPD Intelligence Division. The department said it would review the request for an investigation.

Clarke acknowledged that the 2001 terrorist attacks made Americans more willing to accept aggressive tactics, particularly involving Muslims. But she said Americans would be outraged if police infiltrated Baptist churches looking for evangelical Christian extremists.

"There were those who, during World War II, said, 'Good, I'm glad they're interning all the Japanese-Americans who are living here,'" Clarke said. "But we look back on that period with disdain."

2 arrested for resisting demolition in QC, Philippines


Two people were arrested on Wednesday after they clashed with anti-riot
police escorting a team deployed to demolish houses of informal settlers
in Quezon City.

Those arrested, one of which was identified as Jason Celso, were brought
to the Quezon City Police District for interrogation, a report aired over
GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali" said.

Celso and his still unidentified companion may face charges for
obstruction and resisting arrest, the report added.

Violence earlier marred the demolition of houses in San Rafael compound in
Old Balara after residents set up barricades and resisted the anti-riot
police and the demolition team.

The residents complained of lack of financial assistance and a relocation
site from the government and Susana Realty, which owns the land.

Despite resistance from residents, the demolition team was able to
penetrate the area around 11 a.m. Wednesday and began dismantling about
700 houses in the area, the television report said.

The demolition was held by virtue of a writ of demolition issued by the
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 22.

Relocation site

In an earlier interview on GMA News TV's "News to Go," Quezon City Mayor
Herbert Bautista told anchor Sandra Aguinaldo that they were informed by
the owner of the land that there was indeed a relocation site for the
informal settlers.

"Meron naman talagang kinikilala na relocation site para dun sa mga tao.
Iyun ho ang hinihingi namin. In fact, anytime soon, we will convene the
Judiciary-Executive Advisory Board as suggested by the court na pag may
ganitong mga sitwasyon, e nape-prepare naman natin yung mga tao," he said.

Bautista, however, did not mention where the relocation site is.

PNoy worse than Arroyo

Following the demolition in Old Balara, an anti-demolition alliance
complained of the Aquino administration’s treatment of the urban poor.

Carlito Badion, vice chairperson of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap
(Kadamay), said President Benigno Aquino III is “worse" than his
predecessor, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in dealing with
informal settlers.

"He is obviously worse than Arroyo looking at his treatment to the urban
poor… As long as his penchant for neoliberal and anti-poor policies remain
as the frameworks of his development programs, he can never lead the
millions of poor Filipinos out of poverty," Badion said in a statement

He added that the urban poor should consider Aquino as a “persona non
grata" in their respective areas.

"Starting this day, he [Aquino] should think twice before entering any
slum area, that he has always wanted to get rid off," he said.

In September last year, a large-scale demolition took place in Quezon City
North Triangle to pave the way for the development of the city’s central
business district. At least 14 people were hurt when police and residents
clashed during the incident.

President Aquino, who was in a state visit in the United States at the
time, eventually ordered the National Housing Authority (NHA) to halt the
demolition and find a relocation site for the displaced residents. — RSJ,
GMA News

Deep Green Resistance, Death Threats and the Police

An interview with Derrick Jensen

by Vancouver Media Co-op August 24, 2011

» Download file 'derrick j.mp3' (14.3MB)

In this exclusive interview with the Vancouver Media Co-op, author Derrick
Jensen talks about a recent spate of death threats directed towards him.
He explains his decision to take his case to the FBI. He also expresses
his distaste for those who question his decision to go to the feds.

The interview was conducted by phone yesterday by Dawn Paley for the
Vancouver Media Co-op, and has been minimally edited for sound quality and

When they knock down your front door, how`re you gonna come?

August 29, 2011 Anarchist News

(French follows)

A few reflections on the GAMMA squad

Word on the street is, there’s a new police squad in Montreal called GAMMA
- short for “Guet des activités et des mouvements marginaux et
anarchistes” – whose goal is to investigate and repress anarchist and
marginal movements. The following is a series of reflections on this
development from a few anarchists. Needless to say, it’s not meant to be
representative, but is rather our own analysis of this situation, and can
hopefully stimulate some discussion amongst our various circles.

We understand the GAMMA squad to be a sign of the state adapting its
strategy not only to an increasing amount of attacks against it, but also
to a broader context of increasing austerity, and therefore of potential
rebellions to come. Its ultimate goal, of course, is the maintenance of
social control, necessary for the preservation of this system.


The new squad is part of the “Specialized Investigations” division of the
SPVM, which is the umbrella group that has organized crime as one of its
focuses. Taking a cue from how the police investigate street gangs, mafia,
and the bikers, GAMMA has a mission to profile and accumulate information
on the actions, interests, and lifestyles of people considered anarchist
or marginal, and so specifically targets anyone who questions the dominant
social order.
Why, then, a specialized squad to target anarchists? There are several
reasons that we can think of. One the one hand, this is the state’s
attempt at shaping the discourse around anarchist ideas and actions. By
using the media to single out anarchists, the state tries to personify the
anarchist as a dangerous terrorist and asks the population to become
pre-emptive snitches in order to protect themselves from this supposed
menace. An example of this sort of discourse put into practice is the
citizen-snitches during and after the English riots this August,
organizing vigilante squads, taking cell-phone photos, and calling in
toll-free numbers to denounce the rioters. In casting the anarchist as
“the dangerous other”, the specter of GAMMA hopes to draw a clear dividing
line between those who are anarchists and will therefore be criminalized,
and everyone else (who presumably doesn’t want to be criminalized) – a
sort of classic divide and conquer, separate and box in. This is meant to
discourage everyone else from getting any ideas about rebelling
themselves, of identifying with the rebels, because they just may. Because
in reality this line is a blurry one, and the desire to fight this social
order is by no means unique to “the anarchists”, so in doing this the
state is attempting to paint a line over already stormy, ever-shifting

By creating a squad with this intention, the state is contributing to the
maintenance of social control that capitalist society needs in order to
function. In fact, it is physically impossible for the police to be
everywhere at once – they can’t be everywhere all the time. They can try
to get around this fact by installing all sorts of other technology of
control - surveillance cameras on every corner, wiretapping phones,
mapping out networks through facebook and twitter, store anti-theft
detectors, ID cards, biometrics, collecting people’s DNA, x-ray machines
at customs, flying drones over borders, the threat of prison – but the key
element of social control is our own internalization of it, ie. the cop
inside our head. It is the residue of the fear that they create. In the
end, police squads like GAMMA accomplish as much through the ghost of
their possible presence, as through their actual physical existence.

Of course, there is also a material logic to the creation of GAMMA. It
appears to be a bureaucratic re-organization of police forces in order to
more efficiently collect and process information about our struggles. They
are focusing on anarchists and consolidating their databases to try to
better understand patterns and draw links between distinct events.

Repression more broadly, and a rejection of the discourse of “rights”

GAMMA can only be understood by looking
at the role repression plays more broadly. Repression has always been an
integral part of the functioning of the state. Every state has at its
foundation the monopoly on organized violence which it expresses through
its laws, its police and its prisons. It therefore isn’t surprising to see
the police trying to repress a struggle that has as its honest intention
the total negation of the state.
Likewise, political profiling has always existed. Liberals like to boast
about how we have freedom of speech, and that other one – freedom of
thought. As long as ideas remain exclusively in the realm of just ideas,
we have these “freedoms”. As soon as people start to put their ideas into
practice, however, and when these challenge the dominant social order,
repression suddenly makes itself felt and these freedoms fade into a
quickly distant memory, echoed in the walls of the Toronto East detention
centre, in Pinochet’s torture chambers, in the ruins of Warsaw, and in the
sandy cemeteries of Afghanistan. The rights that constitute this
democratic state are compromises that are offered us in exchange for the
maintenance of social peace (ie the absence of rebellion) and our
obedience in the face of this system of misery. Within the discourse of
rights is implicit the need for the police, the laws and the state to
exist, to protect them. In reality, however, as soon as state power is
threatened, rights rapidly disappear. To quell the uprisings in England,
the government imposed a state of exception. Prime Minister Cameron
ordered the police to use all the tools at their disposal in order to
reestablish order – to do whatever it takes. The law was on their side. As
soon as order was transgressed, democracy turned tyrannical. It started to
look like scenes from a science fiction movie. The police symbolized the
limits of the possible. In our context, rights are often invoked in a
moral way, a mythology to which people can refer to, the glorious
constitution and such. We argue that rights are a concept that can, like
all language, change its meaning, application, and intentions, and can be
used or let go by the state depending on circumstances, as convenient. In
building a serious struggle against the state, then, banking solely on our
rights and throwing our lot in with that concept is a form of insanity. We
need something else.

Democracy and fascism are two sides of the same coin, and it flips based
on the social, political, geographic and economic context.

Repression in the austerity era

And the context is changing. We’re now full on in the era of austerity.
Everywhere in the world, states are cutting their social and public sector
policies, as well as their spending on public health, education, and
social welfare. In order to deal with the current global financial crisis,
the welfare state, established after the Second World War, is now being
drawn back, with increasing privatization of whatever remains. By cutting
social measures the State is also preparing to face the revolts of an
increasing number of those exploited or excluded completely from the
system, many of whose labor power has become redundant and who teeter
around the service economy, trying to ink out a living. Austerity is the
engine that is influencing the changing face and form that repression
takes. Meanwhile, a real rage is simmering under this surface, and there
are always those who chose to fight for freedom and for the destruction of
this prison world that envelops us.

As anarchists, not only are we not surprised by these developments, but we
refuse to hide behind the veil of justice to claim our innocence. What
role does innocence play in a struggle anyway? For us, the courts are not
the terrain of struggle on which we can win this war, even though we may
have victories here and there. We refuse to use the discourse of the
courts. In a world based on exploitation and misery, our desires for total
freedom will always be criminal. The law’s main function is the
maintenance of this system. Our struggle is against capital and the state
in its entirety, and against all manifestations of this in our daily life,
against the police and other forms and institutions that serve and
reinforce the state's power and control. As our struggles grow, develop,
and intensify, it is not surprising that they will try to respond with
greater repression.

How can we respond?

The question is, then, how do we respond? How many people hate this
system? How many hide their rage, feeling isolated and alone? A world that
needs prisons isn’t ours. Each pig is a symbol of rational domination over
the body. Because we imagine a million other possible ways to live, and we
have dreams, we refuse to bow our heads in front of the social order and
its laws. Our power lies in the fact that we are not the only ones who are
suffocating in this and who choose to fight it. The state's control over
our lives grows proportionally to the increase in people’s general sense
of alienation. In the city, urban planning leads to a mapping of every
inch of space, where there are less and less places to hide. Capital wages
war on us by appropriating every centimeter of our space, every muscle of
our bodies and the ideas in our heads. If we refuse to be colonized by
this, we must find ways to fight it. We’ve made the choice to be in active
conflict, together, in the face of this system rather than waiting in
front of the television hoping that this system will collapse on its own.
If the rioters of London, or those of the ghettos of Paris, or Egypt, or
Greece, chose to take their lives into their own hands, we are surely
capable of doing the same.

Now is the time to find each other as comrades in struggle, to
self-organize. We need to create the things we want to see ourselves,
because nobody will do it for us. We need to develop our practices in
terms of communication, creativity, and conflictuality. The gap between
ideas and action is really not that wide at all.

Now is also a time to work out our differences, and build a critical
solidarity with each other, not letting the state tear us apart over petty
conflicts. This doesn't mean that we should erase our differences, or that
we all have to work together, but we can still support each other.

Finally, we should be careful not to get cornered, or to get stuck in a
war of attrition against the police. If we remain few, we will eventually
lose. The repressive strategy of the Canadian state, similar to France,
US, England and other dominant countries, is based on the theory of
permanent counterinsurgency. This means that they must try to repress each
social struggle in its infancy, before it has had a chance to grow or
reach a certain critical mass.

Our greatest strength, then, is not our passion, nor our rage, nor even
the sharpness of our revenge, but rather the possibility that our ideas
and practices will spread to the powder keg that is this fragmented

Quand ils défoncent ta porte, tu répond comment ?

Quelques réflexions sur l'escouade GAMMA

Nous avons eu la puce à l'oreille récemment qu'au sein du Service de
Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), il s'est constitué une nouvelle
unité : l'escouade GAMMA (le Guet des activités et des mouvements
marginaux et anarchistes).

Il nous a semblé important de diffuser publiquement nos réflexions et de
faire une critique en partant de notre position, soit en tant
qu'anarchistes. Nous ne voulons pas nous faire porte-parole DES
anarchistes, nous nous exprimons en tant qu'individus. Nous espérons
stimuler des discussions à ce sujet.

Selon nous, l'escouade GAMMA doit être comprise telle une autre adaptation
de l'État dans un contexte d’austérité qui s'accentue. Son mandat est
certainement de faire en sorte que l'État maintienne son pouvoir de
contrôle social en réprimant la révolte.

Pourquoi GAMMA ?

La nouvelle escouade se situe sous la direction de la Section des Enquêtes
spécialisées, dont font partie, entre autres, la division du crime
organisé. Comme pour les gang de rues, la mafia ou les motards, GAMMA a
pour mission de profiler et d'accumuler des informations sur les actions,
les intérêts et les manières de vivre des personnes « marginales et
anarchistes », donc quiconque qui questionne l'ordre établi. En tentant
d'établir de nouveaux réseaux d’accointance, de liens, d'affinités entre
individus, l'État montre son intention d'aiguiser la répression, une
répression qui n'est évidemment pas nouvelle.

Plusieurs motifs justifient le fait que le SPVM doit aujourd'hui disposer
d'une escouade visible spécialisée en la matière. Pourquoi la police
doit-elle explicitement viser les anarchistes? En les pointant du doigt
avec l'aide des médias de masse, l'État personnifie l'anarchiste sous un
visage de dangereux terroriste et appelle la population à jouer les
délateurs afin de se protéger de sa soit-disant menace. Nous avons vu ces
citoyens-flics agir en Angleterre avant et après les émeutes, s'organiser
en milice d'autodéfense citoyenne et téléphoner au numéro sans-frais pour
dénoncer les émeutiers. Cela nous donne un exemple cauchemardesque de ce
futur possible. En projetant l'anarchiste comme ''Le dangereux'',
l'escouade GAMMA veut tracer une ligne claire entre les anarchistes
criminels et tout les autres (que l'on présume ne pas vouloir être
criminalisés)- un classique; diviser pour conquérir, metre les gens dans
des boîtes isoler les uns des autres. Ils croient pouvoir décourager toute
autre personne à utiliser ces moyens d'action quand leur viennent des
inspirations potentielles de révolte ou à s'identifier avec les rebelles.
En réalité, cette ligne n'est absolument pas clair et le désire de
combattre l'ordre social est loin d'être unique aux anarchistes.

Notre société, en fait, pour fonctionner, a besoin de dominer les
manifestations du vivant. Nous savons aussi qu'il est physiquement
impossible pour la police d'être présente à chaque centimètre de notre
environnement, partout et en même temps. Ils peuvent essayer de nous
contraindre à l'aide d'une multitude de dispositifs tels un nombre infini
de caméras de surveillance à tout les coins de rues, leur capacité de
mettre les téléphones cellulaires sous écoute et l'accès aux conversations
texto, en traçant nos réseaux avec facebook et twitter, les anti-vols aux
portes des magasins, les outils biométriques, les rayons-X aux douanes,
les détecteurs de chaleur bordant les chemins de fer aux frontières, la
collecte des ADNs, les drones survolant les forêts, les prisons où l'on
est menacé d'être enfermé si on ne respecte pas la loi ou la discipline
qu'on nous inculque dès la maternelle, mais l'élément clé du contrôle
social est notre propre introjection de celui-ci ; le flic dans ta tête.
C'est le résidu de la peur qu'ils créent. Au final, les flics doivent
aussi leur pouvoir de contrôle à leurs fantômes transcendants plutôt qu'à
leurs présences réelle.

Enfin, d'un point de vue matériel, GAMMA est probablement un réarrangement
organisationel et bureaucratique qui permettra aux policiers d'être plus
efficace dans leur cueuillette d'informations. Focussant sur les
anarchistes, ils consolident leur base de données pour mieux comprendre
les patterns et faire des liens entre des événements distincts.

Nous l'avons souligné plus tôt, la répression est partie intégrale du
fonctionnement de l'État; tout État dans son fondement détient le monopole
menaçant de la violence organisée avec ses lois, sa police et ses prisons.
Il n'est pas surprenant de voir les flics tenter de réprimer une lutte qui
a pour honnête intention la négation de l'État et de la domination
Quant au profilage politique, il a lui aussi toujours été. Le libéralisme
ne cesse de vouloir nous convaincre d'à quel point nous avons la liberté
de penser et d'exprimer nos idées. Aussi longtemps que ces idées restent
des idées, nous avons ces ''libertés''. À partir du moment où les gens
commencent à mettre leurs idées en pratique et que celles-ci ne
correspondent pas à l'ordre sécuritaire du statu-quo, la répression se
fait ressentir et ces libertés s'estompe en une courte mémoire. Cela fait
écho aux murs du centre de détention dans l'est de Toronto (G-20), aux
chambres de torture de Pinochet, aux ruines de Varsovie et aux cimetières
sablonneux d'Afghanistan. Les droits composants notre État démocratique
sont des compromis qui nous sont offerts en échange de la paix sociale
(l’absence de rébellion) et de notre obéissance face à ce système de
misère. On veut à tout prix nous faire comprendre que c'est la police, les
lois et l'État qui protègent nos droits. Pas de chance ; dès le moment où
le pouvoir d'État est menacé, les droits sont rapidement supprimés. Pour
calmer les émeutes britanniques, le gouvernement imposa des mesures
d’exceptions. Le premier ministre Cameron ordonna aux policiers d'utiliser
tout les moyens à leurs dispositions pour rétablir l'ordre. La loi était
de leur coté. Lorsque l'ordre est transgressée, la démocratie devient
tyrannique. On se croirait dans un film de science-fiction. Les flics
symbolisent les limites du possible. Ils encadrent l'existant. Le droit
joue un rôle moral, une mythologie de vérités auxquelles tous se réfèrent.
Nous venons de démontrer que le droit est un concept qui peut, comme
toutes formes de langage, changer de signification, d'application, de
mandat, d'intérêt, de fin ou de justification selon les circonstances.
Puisque nous voulons construire une lutte sérieuse contre l'État, la
dépendance du droit devient une folie. Nous avons besoin d'autre chose.

La démocratie et le fascisme sont les deux cotés d'une même médaille, et
celle-ci tourne selon le contexte social, politique, géographique et

La répression dans l'ère des mesures d'austérité

Désormais, ce contexte change. Nous sommes dans l’ère des politiques
d'austérité. Partout dans le monde, les gouvernements coupent dans les
budgets alloués aux mesures sociales, aux emplois du secteur publique, à
l'éducation et à la santé. Afin de gérer la crise financière globale,
l'État-Providence, établit suite à la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, se
rétracte progressivement pour laisser place à une gestion du privé. On
fait primer l'intérêt économique avant tout, même dans des domaines qui
jusqu'à présent, concernait les affaires publiques. En coupant dans les
mesures sociales, l'État s'attend à devoir faire face à la révolte de
toujours plus d'exclus et planifie ainsi son appareil répressif.
L'austérité est un moteur qui influence les changements quant à la forme
que prendra la répression. Une rage bien réelle se mijote chez un nombre
croissant de personnes exploitées et de parias; chez ceux qui ont choisi
de se battre pour la liberté et pour la destruction de se système-prison
qui nous engloutit.

En tant qu'anarchistes, non seulement nous ne sommes pas surpris de ces
développements, mais nous refusons de nous cacher derrière le voile de la
justice pour clamer notre innocence. Quel rôle a l'innocence dans la
guerre contre le capital de toute façon? Pour nous, la cours n'est pas un
terrain de lutte où il est possible de gagner cette guerre. Si, parfois,
quelques défenses ont du succès ici et là, nous refusons d'utiliser le
discours de la loi. Dans un monde basé sur l'exploitation et la misère,
nos désirs pour une libération totale seront toujours criminalisés. La loi
a avant tout pour fonction le maintien de ce système. Notre lutte se pose
contre le capital et contre l'État dans son entièreté, contre toutes ses
manifestations dans nos quotidiens ; contre les flics et toutes autres
formes sociales leur servant à maintenir leur pouvoir et contrôle. Alors
que notre lutte prend forme et s'intensifie, cela ne fait que trop de sens
de voir la police répondre de la sorte.

Comment peut-on répondre?

La question pour nous est de réfléchir à comment répondre à cette répression.
Combien de gens détestent ce monde
quadrillé? Combien de gens refoulent cette rage, croyant être seuls et
impuissants? Un monde qui a besoin de prisons n'est pas le nôtre. Chaque
flic symbolise la domination rationnelle des corps. Parce que nous
imaginons mille autres choses et que nous avons des rêves, nous refusons
de baisser la tête devant l'ordre et la loi. Notre puissance se trouve
dans le fait que nous ne sommes pas seuls à étouffer et à vouloir
combattre la source de cet étouffement. Le contrôle de nos vies augmente
avec l'expansion de l'aliénation; des plans d'urbanisme lissés en bloc et
où les recoins et les cachettes n'existent pas, nous sont imposés. Le
capital nous fait la guerre pour s'approprier chaque centimètre de nos
espaces, chaque muscle de nos corps et les idées dans nos têtes. Si nous
refusons la colonisation par le capital, nous devons nous battre. Nous
avons fait ce choix d'être en conflit, ensemble, face à ce système plutôt
que d'attendre devant la télévision en croyant que le système s'effondrera
de lui-même. Si les émeutiers de Londres ou de Paris ont choisi de prendre
leur propre vie en mains, nous bouillonnons d'envie de faire de même.

C'est le moment de nous retrouver comme camarades de lutte et de nous
organiser nous-même, en groupes affinnitaires, et MAINTENANT. Il nous faut
créer se que nous voulons voir exister par nous-même car personne ne le
fera pour nous. Nous devons développer nos pratiques en therme de
communication, de créativité et de conflit. Le saut de l'idée à l'action
n'est pas si grand.

Il est aussi temps de travailler sur nos différences et construire une
solidarité critique entre nous, ne pas laisser l'État nous diviser pour
des conflits ridicules. Cela ne veut pas dire que nous devons éfacer nos
différences, ou que nous devons tous faire les chose ensembles, mais
pouvons-nous au moin nous supporter?

Nous devons faire gaffe à ne pas nous faire prendre dans une guerre
d'usure contre la police. Si nous ne restons que quelques-uns, nous ne
pouvons éventuellement que perdre. La stratégie répressive de l'État
canadien, tout comme celle de la France, des États-Unis, de l'Angleterre
et de tout les pays dominants, est basée sur la théorie de la
contre-insurrection permanente. Cette dernière évoque le besoin de
réprimer chaque lutte sociale avant même qu'elle n'ait la chance de se
répandre et de rejoindre une certaine masse critique. Notre plus grande
force n'est donc décidément pas notre passion, notre colère ou ni même
notre revanche, mais la possibilité que nos idées et pratiques se
répandent dans ce baril de poudre à canon qu'est notre société.

Syria’s surge of deaths in detention revealed

Amnesty International 30 August 2011

At least 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syria during
five months of bloody repression of pro-reform protests, a new Amnesty
International report reveals today.

Click here to download the report

Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria
documents reported deaths in custody between April and mid-August in the
wake of sweeping arrests.

The 88 deaths represented a significant escalation in the number of deaths
following arrest in Syria. In recent years Amnesty International has
typically recorded around five deaths in custody per year in Syria.

“These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to
be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing
daily on the streets of Syria,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty
International’s researcher on Syria.

“The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the
Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a
vast scale.”

The victims recorded in the report were all swept up in arrests after
Syrians took to the streets en masse from March this year. All male, the
victims include 10 children, some as young as 13.

All the victims are believed to have been detained because they were
involved, or suspected of being involved, in the pro-reform protests.

In at least 52 of these cases there is evidence that torture or other
ill-treatment caused or contributed to the deaths.

Amnesty International has seen video clips of 45 of the cases – taken by
relatives, activists or other individuals – and has asked independent
forensic pathologists to review a number of these.

Injuries on many of the victims’ corpses indicate that they may have
suffered horrendous beatings and other abuses. Signs indicating torture
include burns, blunt force injuries, whipping marks and slashes.

Most of the cases in the report occurred in Homs and Dera’a governorates,
which have seen major protests. Deaths in detention have also been
reported in five other governorates, namely Damascus and Rif Damashq,
Idlib, Hama and Aleppo.

Thirteen-year-old Hamza Ali al-Khateeb disappeared on 29 April during
protests against the siege of Dera’a, and was later found dead with
apparent blunt force injuries and a severed penis.

One video clip seen by Amnesty International shows the body of Tariq Ziad
Abd al-Qadr from Homs, which was returned to his family on 16 June. His
injuries included pulled-out hair, marks to the neck and penis possibly
caused by electric shocks, an apparent cigarette burn, whipping marks,
stab wounds and burns.

The body of Dr Sakher Hallak, who ran an eating disorders clinic in
Aleppo, was discovered by the side of a road a few days after his arrest
on 25 May. Sources told Amnesty International that his injuries included
broken ribs, arms and fingers, gouged eyes and mutilated genitals.

Amnesty International is not aware of any independent investigation having
been carried out into the causes of death in any of the cases in the

Amnesty International has called on the UN Security Council to refer the
situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, to impose an arms
embargo on Syria and to implement an asset freeze against President Bashar
al-Assad and his senior associates.

“Taken in the context of the widespread and systematic violations taking
place in Syria, we believe that these deaths in custody may include crimes
against humanity,” said Neil Sammonds.

“The response from the Security Council has been utterly inadequate so
far, but it is not too late for them to take firm and legally binding

Amnesty International has compiled the names of more than 1,800 people
reported to have died since pro-reform protests began. Thousands of others
have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown locations at
risk of torture or death.

Amnesty alleges death, torture in Syrian prisons

By DON MELVIN - Associated Press August 30, 2011

BRUSSELS (AP) — A human rights group said Tuesday it believed that at
least 88 people, ten of them children, have died in detention in Syria
during five months of anti-government protests — a dramatic increase that
coincides with the government's bloody crackdown.

Some of the victims were as young as 13, Amnesty International said. It
said that in recent years the annual number of deaths behind Syrian bars
has been about five.

"These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to
be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing
daily on the streets of Syria," said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty
International's researcher on Syria.

Sammonds also said the group had heard accounts of horrific torture. "We
believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own
people on a vast scale," he said.

The victims, all men or boys, were arrested after mass protests began in
March. All the victims are believed to have been detained because they
were suspected of being involved in the protests, Amnesty said in a

In at least 52 of the cases there was evidence that torture or
ill-treatment caused or contributed to the deaths, the report said.

The group said it had seen video clips relating to 45 of the cases, and
had asked independent forensic pathologists to review a number of them. It
said injuries on many of the bodies indicate the victims may have suffered
beatings, burns, whippings, slashings and stabbings.

The report cited the case of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, a 13-year-old who
disappeared April 29 during protests against the siege of Dera'a, and was
later found dead with apparent blunt force injuries and a severed penis.
Most of the cases in the report occurred in the Homs and Dera'a
governorates, which have seen major protests.

Deaths in detention have also been reported in five other governorates —
Damascus and Rif Damashq, Idlib, Hama and Aleppo, Amnesty said.

It also cited the case of a doctor from Aleppo, whose body — discovered by
the side of a road a few days after his arrest — had broken ribs, arms and
fingers, as well as gouged eyes and mutilated genitals.

Amnesty International has called on the U.N. Security Council to refer the
situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, to impose an arms
embargo on Syria and to freeze the assets of President Bashar Assad and
his senior officials.

"Taken in the context of the widespread and systematic violations taking
place in Syria, we believe that these deaths in custody may include crimes
against humanity," Sammonds said.

Amnesty International says it has compiled the names of more than 1,800
people reported to have died since pro-reform protests began. Thousands of
others have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown
locations, according to the group.

Bolivian court convicts former military officers

August 30, 2011 Associated Press

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia's highest court has convicted five former
top military commanders of genocide in a 2003 crackdown on protesters that
claimed at least 64 civilian lives. It gave them prison sentences ranging
from 10-15 years.

The court also convicted two former Cabinet ministers of complicity in the
killings and sentenced them each to three years.

Popular anger over the crackdown forced then-President Gonzalo Sanchez de
Lozada into U.S. exile. The protesters had been demanding he halt plans to
export natural gas to Chile.

Since being elected in 2005, President Evo Morales has tried to bring
Sanchez de Lozada and members of his government to trial.

But most fled, and Bolivian law prohibits trials in absentia.

To catch a terrorist: The FBI hunts for the enemy within

By Petra Bartosiewicz Harpers Magazine

Petra Bartosiewicz also wrote “The Intelligence Factory: How America makes its enemies disappear” for Harper’s Magazine.

To fear and dehumanize alien Others, to ruthlessly hunt them down, is truly American.—Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, This Violent Empire

In June 2008, I attended a meeting in Albany organized by the FBI and designed to quell the growing fury over the arrest and prosecution of two local Muslim immigrants, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain. The previous year Aref and Hossain, both leaders at a local mosque, had been sentenced to fifteen years in federal prison in connection with their role in a terrorism scheme that the press had dubbed the Albany “missile plot.” According to the FBI complaint, the pair had agreed to “make money through jihad” by laundering the proceeds from the sale of a shoulder-launched missile that a Pakistani militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, intended to use to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. Yet in announcing the arrest of Aref and Hossain, the FBI allowed that their crimes were “not real” and that the public had never actually been in jeopardy. The plot had been a sting operation wherein the FBI concocted the assassination plan and furnished the weapon. Though much of the evidence against the two men remained classified, it was unclear that either man even knew he was involved in a terrorist plot.

When these details emerged, both Muslims and non-Muslims in Albany were outraged. The investigation had targeted two well-known members of the community, men with no prior criminal record and no history of violence. To allay the community’s concerns, the FBI embarked on a kind of public-relations initiative by organizing a series of meetings with local leaders. At the meeting I went to with half a dozen activists, we were told we could take notes but not record the proceedings, though one of the attendees, in what she considered an act of civil disobedience, surreptitiously taped them anyway. After some opening statements from FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, who told us that the point of the meeting was to prove that the FBI “did the right thing,” we watched a Power­Point presentation that began with ominous chanting, which I found out later was an Islamic prayer song. The first image identified the sting operation by its code name, Green Grail, and showed a photograph of the defendants with glowering expressions as guards led them in shackles from Albany’s federal courthouse.

Following the presentation, the agent in charge of the case, Tim Coll, explained how the FBI had built its investigation, which began shortly after the 9/11 attacks when one of the founders of Aref and Hossain’s mosque, a man named Ali Yaghi, was “observed celebrating the 9/11 attacks on the streets.” Yaghi, though never charged with any terrorism-related crime, was arrested and deported soon after, but the mosque remained under surveillance. The FBI subsequently learned Aref had called a “hot” telephone that investigators believed was a possible Al Qaeda contact number in Syria, where Aref had once lived. Coll also recounted how in a “dumpster dive” conducted by agents in a separate case in Syracuse, Aref’s name had turned up in a letter that described him as a “loyal representative” of a group believed to have offshoots connected to Al Qaeda.

Over the course of the eight-month sting operation, beginning in July 2003, the government’s informant, posing as a wealthy Pakistani businessman, befriended Hossain, a pizzeria owner and father of six. The informant visited Hossain regularly, eventually offering to loan him $50,000 to bolster his struggling business. FBI agents would later acknowledge that Hossain was nothing more than “a way to get in,” a means to catch Aref, who, in keeping with Islamic tradition, was brought in to witness the handover.

What made the deal illegal, according to prosecutors, occurred four months into the operation during a meeting in the informant’s office. Pulling back a tarp in his stockroom to reveal a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile, the informant told Hossain, “I also do this business for my Muslim brothers.” Prosecutors claimed that Hossain should have been able to deduce that the loan he was receiving might be drawn from proceeds of an illegal weapons sale, and that by accepting the loan he had opened himself to charges of money laundering. Aref himself never saw the weapon. During one of the exchanges of cash—all of which were documented on grainy black-and-white surveillance footage—the missile’s trigger system, which looked not unlike a staple gun, was visible on a table. Prosecutors alleged Aref had seen the trigger and thereby had entered the conspiracy to “assist in money-laundering.”

It’s difficult not to make the FBI’s case sound contrived in this recounting, but the agents I spoke with seemed to genuinely believe that Aref was a potential terrorist. Whatever the peculiarities of the plot they used to ensnare him, Aref was an extremist at heart. Their belief was supported by materials they’d found at his apartment after his arrest, including poetry he’d written with phrases like “raise the jihad sword,” in a diary he’d kept before coming to the United States, in which he also chronicled meetings with individuals who were known to have discussed attacking the United States.

At the time of Aref and Hossain’s arrest, U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Comey admitted it was “not the case of the century.” Nevertheless, the Albany missile plot became one of the government’s more lauded victories in the fight against domestic terrorism—even though, by the government’s own acknowledgment, it involved no terrorists, no terrorism plot, and a missile provided by the FBI. When asked at a press conference following the sentencing whether there was anything connecting the defendants, particularly Aref, to terrorism, the prosecuting attorney answered, “Well, we didn’t have the evidence of that, but he had the ideology.”

In the months after 9/11, the FBI deployed its investigative apparatus as a blunt weapon. In November 2001, the Department of Justice began conducting “voluntary interviews” with 5,000 Middle Eastern non-citizens. Hundreds of FBI agents were dispatched across the country to conduct the interviews, with standard questions like “Are you aware of anybody who reacted in a surprising way about the terrorist attacks? Maybe you got to work and maybe a coworker said, ‘Good, I’m glad that happened’?”11. When the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union offered free legal counsel to the men being interviewed, the ACLU’s hotline was overwhelmed with vitriolic messages. “When are you going to concern yourself with Americans?” asked one caller to the ACLU’s office. “You seem to be more concerned about a bunch of people who would just as soon kill us as look at us.” Another caller, an African American, said she didn’t approve of racial profiling, “but this is different. I think the government should go door to door and question every one of these Arabs.” At the same time, Attorney General John Ashcroft instituted a “Responsible Cooperators Program” that offered U.S. citizenship to undocumented and out-of-status immigrants who could provide useful information about the 9/11 attacks.

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General later described the bureau’s efforts as “indiscriminate,” noting that “no distinction was generally made between the subjects of the lead and any other individuals encountered at the scene ‘incidentally.’” One paper told of five Arab-American Boy Scouts from Michigan detained with “fudge bags in hand” by FBI agents after they were spotted taking photographs while on a scenic ferry ride. Law enforcement detained more than 1,200 individuals, mostly men of Middle Eastern descent, on immigration or other low-level violations. Detainees were often held in solitary confinement, and under the DOJ’s “hold until cleared” policy they could be incarcerated indefinitely. The arrests were carried out largely in secret, protected from scrutiny by an order barring the press and the public from detention hearings to prevent “irreparable harm to public safety.”

These mass roundups, of course, echoed earlier moments in our history. In the run-up to World War I, President Woodrow Wilson decried the danger of “hyphenated Americans,” pointing specifically to Irish and German immigrants. During World War II, 110,000 Japanese Americans were interned without cause. These reactions were obviously hysterical, but were also temporary; the more recent emergency measures, however, have been institutionalized as a permanent law-enforcement priority. This new precedent began within days of 9/11 when, amid the finger-pointing over missed clues and intelligence failures, FBI director Robert Mueller issued a memo to his field offices describing a new policy of “forward-leaning—preventative—prosecutions.” Mueller wrote that “while every office will have different crime problems that will require varying levels of resources,” the FBI’s “one set of priorities” is to stop the next terrorist attack.

This memo, which detailed policies for “preemptive” operations, explains how, nearly a decade into our “war on terror,” Justice Department officials can claim we’ve caught hundreds of people domestically whom we call terrorists, while at the same time, according to the DOJ’s own statistics, only one person—an Egyptian immigrant who opened fire on an El Al ticket line at Los Angeles International Airport in 2002—has actually committed an act of terrorism on American soil. Instead, the U.S. government has amassed more than 1,000 federal “terrorism-associated” prosecutions by expanding its investigative purview beyond actual attacks, or even “ticking time bomb” threats, to focus almost exclusively on a theoretically unlimited array of potential threats. To catch a successful terrorist under this system would constitute a failure of law enforcement, because the perpetrators would have already committed the act. Rather, these agents are seeking “pre-terrorists,” individuals whose intentions, rather than actions, constitute the primary threat.

The pursuit of hypothetical enemies has long been considered illegal in the international arena. (Recall, for example, the labeling of political dissidents as “intellectual terrorists” under various CIA-backed regimes in Latin America during the 1970s.) But while such questions have been debated in relation to foreign interventions, the preemptive model of law enforcement has unfolded domestically with little dissent. The FBI’s own storied practice of spying on “subversive” Americans, including civil rights leaders, socialists, and antiwar protesters, was supposed to have ended in the 1970s with the disbandment of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO. The Church Committee, which investigated domestic spying by the FBI and CIA after Watergate, found that during the fifteen years that COINTELPRO was active, the FBI “had conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation” that included “secret informants … wiretaps, microphone ‘bugs,’ surreptitious mail opening, and break-ins.” After the committee’s report, Congress passed restrictions designed to prevent such “forward-leaning” investigations by putting a wall between intelligence gathering and law enforcement.22. The revelation of illegal surveillance presented another practical problem for the FBI; court cases that relied on domestic spying for evidence were thrown out, including those against the Weathermen, who carried out dozens of bombings during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The Patriot Act removed that wall, enhancing the FBI’s surveillance capabilities through new powers such as roving wiretaps, “sneak and peek” search warrants—which allow agents to search a suspected terrorist’s home without prior notice—and the expanded use of “national security letters,” which give agents access to personal records without requiring a court order. Where once the FBI’s chief work product, and a chief metric by which agents were judged, was arrests that could withstand the scrutiny of prosecution in federal court, a new set of metrics has been instituted to reflect an agency retrofitted as an intelligence-gathering organization. Evidence of this shift can be seen in FBI director Mueller’s periodic “accountability” videoconferences, known as “Strategy Performance Sessions,” which are patterned after the NYPD’s CompStat initiative. Top officials in each FBI field office brief Mueller on a series of intelligence-driven “performance indicators,” such as the number of “sophisticated investigations” employing wiretaps or surveillance, the number of informants deployed in the field, and the number of terrorist threats disrupted. The FBI has also adopted the intelligence community’s practice of compiling raw field data into “information reports,” which are disseminated to law enforcement and are based on unvetted information that can amount to nothing more than speculation or rumor.

Whereas the new intelligence apparatus has increased the scope of the FBI’s work, other regulations have lowered the burden of proof necessary to launch an investigation. In 2008, the DOJ’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations was revised under Attorney General Michael Mukasey. In this new version the FBI no longer has to demonstrate a “predicate” to an investigation, effectively giving the agency the power to spy on whomever it wishes, for however long it wishes, even if that individual has never committed a crime or, more important, is not even suspected of one. According to data released by the DOJ, in the first four months after these rules were instituted, agents launched 11,667 such low-level inquiries, known as “assessments.” (The Justice Department is currently working on another revision of the FBI’s internal guidelines, and the rules governing assessments are expected to be loosened further.)

Although the FBI’s operational rules explicitly ban profiling solely on the basis of race, they do not forbid using religion or national origin to target suspects. Agents can spy on anyone “reasonably believed to be associated with a particular criminal or terrorist element of an ethnic community,” to track “ethnic-oriented businesses and other facilities” if “members of certain terrorist organizations live within a certain concentrated community of the same ethnicity.” The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school summed up the practices by saying that the guidelines “envision an FBI that vacuums up all the information made available to it by permissive investigative rules, disseminates the information to other government agencies, and retains it indefinitely.”

Yassin Aref, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq, was first interviewed by the FBI during their initial post-9/11 sweep. The agent’s notes from the meeting are unremarkable. Aref arrived in the United States in 1999 and was soon thereafter hired as the imam of the Central Avenue mosque, where he earned $500 a week. Still, after the interview agents kept an eye on Aref’s mosque, installing cameras aimed at the front and rear entrances. (When I asked Tim Coll whether he had also bugged the mosque, his face turned red and he wouldn’t answer.)

Aref was interviewed again in April 2003, when, in the first weeks of the Iraq invasion, the FBI began to question some 11,000 individuals who had ties to the country. In this meeting, the two agents spoke with him at greater length, and he told them how he and his wife had fled Iraq in 1995 to escape the persecution of the Ba’athist regime. According to one of the investigating agents’ notes, Aref offered that “the FBI could keep a close eye on him and watch everything he does,” and that “due to his lack of familiarity with the American language and legal system,” he asked that the FBI “let him know if he does or says anything illegal or wrong.”

In the spring of 2003, U.S. forces raided suspected insurgent camps throughout Iraq. Soldiers found Aref’s name and Albany phone number in the course of three such raids, including one outside the town of Rawah at what was believed to be a training camp for the extremist group Ansar-al-Islam, where his name turned up amid “pocket litter” scattered on the ground at the site. Next to his name was a word that U.S. military intelligence officers translated as the Arabic term for “commander.” Shortly after the raid, the FBI launched its sting operation.

To get closer to Aref, the FBI turned to an Albany man they’d arrested more than a year earlier: Shahed Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who went by the nickname Malik and who had been busted helping immigrants fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses, feeding them answers on the test while working as their translator. Malik was facing prison time and possible deportation to Pakistan, where, Coll believed, he was wanted for rape or murder. So Malik was receptive when the FBI offered him a cooperation deal. Coll explained that Malik’s mission, in exchange for “consideration” at his sentencing, was to root out possible terrorist threats. “I told him that he has to produce,” Coll said. “I explained it’s like playing pinball. Keep scoring as many points as you can without people knowing your identity.”

Malik first approached Mohammed Hossain at his pizzeria, presenting himself as a wealthy businessman in need of spiritual counseling. For months he met with Hossain, bringing toys for Hossain’s children and talking about his own religious education. The conversations frequently turned to politics, but Hossain proved not to have extremist leanings. Typical of these exchanges, Malik asked Hossain about the World Trade Center attacks. “Was it good or bad?” Malik asked, and Hossain answered, “Of course, this was bad.” When asked how he defined the word “jihad,” Hossain answered, “You stopped all your considerable worldly business to come here and engage in a few words about God. This is called jihad.” But he proved more pliable on the issue of money, admitting to Malik that he was having “a little bit” of cash-flow trouble on a couple of rental properties he owned. At the behest of the FBI, Malik offered Hossain a loan.

In November 2003, five months into the operation, Malik showed Hossain the missile. In the FBI’s surveillance footage, Malik can be heard describing his business importing merchandise from China. He then tells Hossain, almost offhandedly, that “we also import weapons.” He draws back the tarp to reveal the missile and asks Hossain whether he knows what it is. “No,” says Hossain. Malik tells him, “This is for destroying airplanes.” Hossain says, “But it’s not legal.” Malik laughs, “What is legal in the world?”

The link to Aref was a stroke of luck for the FBI. Hossain himself suggested the imam be brought in to witness the loan, which was made in installments. The handovers of cash were themselves prosaic, but Malik soon turned to the young imam for spiritual guidance, and the two began meeting, occasionally sitting at a local Dunkin’ Donuts, where Malik increasingly brought up controversial topics. Aref didn’t speak Malik’s native Urdu, so the two conversed in broken English. The prosecution would later point to a handful of conversations incriminating Aref, including one at his house in February 2004 during which Malik mentioned that Aref and Hossain should not go to New York City the following week because there would be a missile attack. The transcript of this, the most damning conversation in the eight-month sting, is not available because Malik’s hidden tape recorder supposedly fell off him. Nevertheless, according to the FBI, Aref responded by asking Malik to leave his home. Aref later claimed that he thought Malik was joking and warned him not to make such comments, which prosecutors said meant that Aref was aware of the missile conspiracy. Several months later, Malik once again discussed his other business in front of Aref and made references to New York, but he referred to the missile by the code word “chaudry,” which Malik never explained to Aref. During that same conversation, Malik mentioned that he was afraid he’d have to hide out from the FBI. Aref said that he had no such qualms because he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Informants have been deployed by law enforcement for centuries, but in these recent terrorism investigations they have been given a more active role in shaping cases, often encouraging or even coercing individuals to commit violent acts toward which the individuals have otherwise shown no predisposition. Such sting operations present a disturbing kind of theater: the government provides the script, the arms, the cash, and other props, and offers logistical support.

In at least one instance, in Chicago last year, the FBI instructed informants to pay a suspect so he could quit his day job and focus on jihad. In the case of Hemant Lakhani, a British businessman who was convicted in 2005 of providing material support to terrorists for brokering the sale of a surface-to-air missile, law enforcement ended up on both sides of the arms deal, as buyer and seller, after the informant discovered that Lakhani simply didn’t have the connections to procure the missile. The informant in that case, pivotal in shepherding Lakhani through the sale, had previously worked with the DEA, but after he incriminated an innocent man in the course of a drug sting, his handler had given him the equivalent of a “burn notice.” In the desperate post-9/11 environment, the FBI hired him anyway.

Other informants have had equally dubious qualifications. The informant in a 2007 plot to blow up jet fuel tanks at JFK Airport was a former New York drug kingpin who had conspired to murder a rival dealer and been busted with $2 million in cocaine. The Miami Seven, arrested in 2006 for plotting an attack on the Sears Tower in Chicago, had their plot concocted for them entirely by a pair of FBI informants, one of whom had a history of assault; the other sneaked tokes off-camera during the surveilled meetings. In 2004 an informant was deployed against a Yemeni sheikh in Brooklyn, but after becoming disgruntled when the FBI’s promises of riches never came to fruition, he set himself on fire in front of the White House in protest.

Informants in some cases have been so heavy-handed that they were dismissed by the people they targeted. At a California mosque last year an informant talked about jihad so aggressively that the mosque’s members took out a restraining order to have him barred from the premises. (The informant, Craig Monteilh, who was paid $177,000 for fifteen months of service, was later convicted of grand larceny in an unrelated incident and subsequently sued the FBI, alleging that the agency had revealed his informant status, leading to an attack by a fellow prisoner during his incarceration.)

The informants in these sting operations were deployed to supply not just opportunities for criminal acts but also the inflammatory rhetoric that would justify terrorism charges. In a supposed plot to attack the United States Army Base in Fort Dix, New Jersey, the FBI sent two informants to infiltrate a group of suspected terrorists after a nearby Circuit City reported a suspicious video the five men had brought in to be copied. (The tape showed footage of what the men later claimed was a vacation in the Poconos, where they can be seen riding horseback, snowmobiling, and firing guns at a rifle range, while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The government would later claim that this was a training mission.)

During the fifteen-month sting operation that followed, one of the informants urged the suspects to join their Muslim brothers overseas. “Don’t you want to go and die with them, man?” he said. The other, Mahmoud Omar, an Egyptian who had agreed to work for the FBI after facing deportation for a bank-fraud conviction, initially suggested the plot to kill American soldiers at the army base. Omar told the men that if they appointed him as their leader he would be the “brain” of the operation. It was Omar who got them talking about the use of Molotov cocktails, grenade launchers, remote-controlled detonators, and roadside nail bombs. They also discussed purchasing a house near the base as a sniper station, but when the men failed to follow through with the plans, Omar grew frustrated. “You talk, but you don’t do nothing,” he told one of the suspects. The five men were arrested before they could devise a specific plan or set a date for the attack. Four of the defendants received life sentences, and the fifth was sentenced to thirty-three years in prison.

John Pikus, the agent who ran Albany’s branch during Aref and Hossain’s trial (and has since retired), told me that given the intelligence the agency had at the time, they believed Aref was “a bad person.” When I pressed him on whether he felt his informant had ultimately flushed out a terrorist, he hedged. “Well, you’re not going to get me to say he was absolutely guilty,” he told me. Still, Pikus insisted that the FBI had to pursue the sting against Aref. Otherwise, he said, “he would have walked around with an intelligence case on him forever.”

In August 2004, Aref was arrested on his way home from evening prayers at the Central Avenue mosque. Hossain was plucked from his car by heavily armed agents. Later that same night the FBI conducted searches of both men’s homes and of the mosque, where they wore sterile white booties over their shoes out of respect for Islamic custom. They found nothing notable at the mosque, but at Aref’s house they discovered his diary with the poetry about raising the “jihad sword.” Agents also found the phrase “plan in America” in the diary, along with lists of meetings with individuals including one with Mullah Krekar, who had been a leader in the Islamic Movement for Kurdistan, where Aref had worked while living as a refugee in Syria. Coll told me the agents felt “vindicated” at the find.

Not long into the discovery process, however, lawyers for Aref and Hossain found a stunning mistake in the evidence arrayed against their clients: the word on the mysterious scrap of paper retrieved in Rawah, which had been key to launching the investigation, had been misunderstood by U.S. intelligence. The word kak, translated as the Arabic for “commander,” was in fact Kurdish for “brother.” After this mix-up came to light, prosecutors sought top-secret protection for other documents in the case, while also refusing to confirm, even to the presiding judge, that any additional classified material existed. Prosecutors also demanded that defense attorneys review evidence only in the presence of a Justice Department specialist, a request the judge eventually denied. “I think they are trying to render meaningless the right to counsel, the right to present a defense,” Aref’s attorney, Terence Kindlon, told the New York Law Journal.

Hossain’s lead attorney, Kevin Lui­brand, who had been a U.S. Army captain and worked in the JAG Corps at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he had top-secret security clearance, told me he was forced to undergo an eight-month security check before he could view any classified evidence. Between the intelligence gathered overseas and the months of domestic surveillance, the attorneys believed the prosecution possessed more incriminating information that the defense had yet to see. “They kept making it sound like they had all these supersecret documents,” said Luibrand. The day he and Kindlon were finally granted clearance, they headed to two secure evidence rooms at the federal courthouse in Albany that had been set up specifically for their use. “A key was given to me, and a key was given to Kindlon. There was a safe in each room,” Luibrand told me. “We expected to view voluminous documents. Instead, there was one piece of paper in the safe, and it had nothing to do with my guy.” The single document that they’d been shown, which remains classified, was never presented in court.

With the evidence they did have, the defense teams were faced with the task of proving that the seemingly damning intelligence gathered against their clients was not what the FBI thought it was. The prosecution argued that “cryptic notes” from Aref’s diary suggested he was an agent of the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan sent to the United States by one of its leaders, Krekar, a wanted terrorist, in order to carry out a “plan in America.” But the United States had classified Krekar as a terrorist only in 2003, after he founded Ansar al-Islam, a radical offshoot of the IMK. Aref left Syria in 1999, when the IMK was still considered a U.S. ally. At the time Aref worked there, the group supported the U.S. effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and the group’s primary goal was to establish an independent Kurdish state. When the defense finally got their hands on the diary, over a year into the case, they discovered that the “plan in America,” was a mistranslation of “America’s plan,” which additional diary entries made clear was actually the U.S. effort to topple Saddam’s regime.

When I later met with the lead prosecutor in the case, William Pericak, I asked about the diary translation, and about the other intelligence the government had, like Aref’s numerous phone calls from Albany to the IMK offices in Syria, which the government found suspicious but Aref said were his only way to get news about his friends and family back in Kurdistan. “I’m the first to say that any individual piece of information here is capable of innocent explanation,” Pericak told me. “It’s also capable of very sinister inference.”

At the trial, Pericak showed no such ambivalence, though he made clear to the jury that “we are not proving that Mr. Aref is a terrorist,” only that Aref “intended to help Malik disguise where the money came from.” (During the proceedings, the rooftop of the federal courthouse was lined with sharpshooters, a precaution that could not but give jurors the impression that the men on trial were very dangerous.)

Just as the law-enforcement community has been retrofitted with enhanced intelligence-gathering capabilities, the prosecution of terrorism cases in the federal courts has been subject to a series of new security measures reminiscent of those employed against enemy combatants in military tribunals. The government regularly asks for and receives sweeping protective orders that bar from public view even benign information like high school transcripts. The Classified Information Procedures Act, whose original intent was to keep witnesses from exposing government secrets in court, is now used to shield “sensitive” information not only from defendants and their counsel but sometimes from the prosecution as well. Syed Hashmi, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to knowingly hosting an Al Qaeda operative at his apartment. His attorney, Sean Maher, told me that the expansive security restrictions placed on evidence make it difficult for defendants like Hashmi to assist in their own defense. As an example—which, because of those same restrictions, he could not confirm actually applied to Hashmi—he said a defense attorney could be prevented from showing his client something as basic as photos of a potential witness.

The use of secret intelligence gathered both domestically and overseas to build cases also allows for the possibility that the evidence may have been elicited under torture. In 2005, jurors were shown a videotaped confession during the trial of Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen accused of plotting to assassinate President Bush. Ali’s confession was extracted by Saudi Arabian secret police, who, his lawyer claimed, whipped him and threatened him with dismemberment over the course of forty-seven days of interrogation. Defense attorneys were not permitted to present evidence that supported the allegations of torture during the trial because of national-security restrictions. In a statement that seems more applicable to the courts of Iran or Syria, Amnesty International declared that such an omission had “cast a dark shadow over the fairness of the trial.”

Despite these troubling cases, the domestic prosecution of terrorists has largely managed to avoid the censure that has befallen the United States’ international “war on terror,” with its “enhanced interrogations” of prisoners overseas and other human rights violations. Instead, the number of domestic terror cases is likely to grow, especially as more Guantánamo detainees are tried in the United States, where, at least theoretically, defendants will enjoy due process and impartial judgment.

A racketeer, writes the historian Charles Tilly, is one who “creates a threat and then charges for its reduction.” When governments, which Tilly describes as “specialists in coercion,” create threats and then offer citizens protection from those threats, the state is running a protection racket. The prosecutions that have emerged under the preemptive model evince just such a quality. Through these conjured threats, the public is treated to a simulation of a real terrorist attack, yet at each post-arrest press conference is reassured that the police were there every step of the way, and that, as was made clear in the Albany case, “there was never any danger.”

In December of last year, Attorney General Eric Holder spoke before a gathering of Muslim leaders and described preemptive operations as an “essential law-enforcement tool.” He made, he said, “no apologies for how the FBI agents handled their work.” Yet while these cases certainly demonstrate that the right enticements can persuade some individuals to break the law, there’s little evidence that they make us safer. On the contrary, in every instance since 9/11 when an actual terrorist attack has been attempted, it failed not because of enhanced law-enforcement initiatives but as a result of the perpetrator’s incompetence. The 2002 “Shoe Bomber,” Richard Reid, was thwarted by an alert stewardess in his attempt to light homemade explosives hidden in his sneakers midway through a flight from Paris to Miami; the 2009 “Underwear Bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdul­mu­tallab, failed to ignite the plastic explosives sewn into his underwear, in the end only scorching himself; and the 2010 “Times Square Bomber” Faisal Shahzad’s homemade explosive device, left in the back of a parked SUV, simply didn’t detonate.

The fortunate inability of these individuals to carry out their attacks was interpreted not as a failure of law enforcement but as evidence of a need for further increases in security, surveillance, and intelligence-gathering authority. Although Shahzad was questioned under the existing “public safety exception” to the Miranda rule (and, according to the FBI, continued to cooperate after being read his rights), lawmakers, led by Senator Joseph Lieberman, used his arrest to call for the suspension of Miranda warnings for all terrorism suspects.

The terrorism-protection racket, however, has not troubled most Americans, in part because it has been leveled almost entirely against the nation’s already marginalized Muslim population. This is no accident, given that for the past decade the “war on terror” has been marketed as a fight against radical Islam. Despite the Obama Administration’s assertions that it is not targeting Muslims, and despite cosmetic changes to the official language with which terrorist threats are discussed by the government—the National Counterterrorism Center, for example, urges law enforcement to “avoid labeling everything ‘Muslim’”—the current administration has not only maintained the previous administration’s policies but has, in fact, institutionalized and expanded them. The pace of informant-led stings has picked up, with alleged “pre-terrorists” ensnared in Oregon, Texas, and Washington, D.C., in recent months. In a revealing moment before a congressional Homeland Security committee last September, FBI director Mueller, one of the few holdovers from the Bush presidency, admitted that terrorism in the United States is really a Muslim problem, saying that his “message to the Muslim community is, the worst thing that could happen to the Muslim community is another attack.”

Even as the FBI focuses on stopping attacks perpetrated by radical Muslims, law enforcement has avoided branding violence from other extremist groups as terrorism. Members of the Hutaree Christian militia, who were arrested in March 2010 for plotting to kill police officers with explosives, were never referred to by the FBI as terrorists, despite being indicted on charges almost identical to those brought against the Times Square bomber. According to a recent Washington Post article, Homeland Security all but stopped investigating violent radicalization threats unrelated to Islam in 2009, after a Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism, which concluded that “white supremacist lone wolves posed the most significant domestic terrorist threats,” drew the ire of conservative groups. The agency responded to the criticism by gutting the office that analyzed domestic extremism. This year, Representative Peter King of New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, held hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims, rejecting requests from fellow lawmakers to include other types of homegrown threats, this despite the fact that since 2001, more American deaths have been caused by non-Muslim extremists than by Muslims.

And while right-wing radicals and white supremacists have been given less attention, the Homeland Security apparatus has been wielded in full force against others deemed enemies of the state, particularly those who undermine the interests of Congress’s chief lobbyists. The expanding category of national-security threats includes animal- and environmental-rights activists as well as left-leaning political protesters, whether antiglobalist, anticapitalist, or antiwar. Enhanced surveillance and wiretapping powers initially passed under the Patriot Act can now be used against citizens who are merely “suspected of associating with radical activists.” So, for example, an NGO whose offices were raided last year by the FBI in connection with a “domestic terrorism” investigation turned out to be working on a humanitarian mission to Palestine, where, unbeknownst to the activists, they’d been accompanied by an undercover FBI agent. And, as the New York Times recently reported, the FBI targeted a self-described anarchist, Scott Crow, in Austin, Texas, who was reportedly attending meetings at which environmental issues were discussed. “Al Qaeda and real terrorists are hard to find,” mused Crow. “We’re easy to find.”

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, passed in 2006, expanded the scope of “domestic terrorism” to include any “interference” with such entities as medical researchers, grocery stores, zoos, and clothing stores. The measure, which was promoted by lobbyists working for the biomedical industry, covers, along with acts of vandalism, virtually anything that can affect a company’s bottom line. Another bill, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act, introduced in 2007 and passed in the House but not the Senate, called for a national commission to investigate potential domestic extremism. The bill was reportedly ghostwritten by the RAND Corporation, which had previously warned that the danger of “homegrown terrorism” is not merely from jihadist sleeper cells but from “anti-globalists” and “radical environmentalists” who “challenge the intrinsic qualities of capitalism.”

One of the outcomes of these preemptive policies has been an unprecedented integration of all levels of law enforcement. Beginning in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security established a nationwide network of “fusion centers,” staffed by a combination of federal, state, and local law enforcement, which act as intelligence-data repositories. Under the rubric of “intelligence-led policing,” these centers are intended to bring the beat cop to the front lines of domestic intelligence-gathering. The fusion centers represent a consolidation of data-gathering on American citizens. While the intent is ostensibly to disrupt another terrorist attack, the majority of resources have been devoted to solving common crimes. According to statistics reported by the federal courts, the Patriot Act’s “sneak and peek” warrants were issued 2,332 times between October 2006 and October 2009. Only 1 percent of sneak-and-peeks were used in terrorism-related cases; 69 percent were for drug-related investigations.

The chief work products in this effort are Suspicious Activity Reports, whereby local law-enforcement agencies catalog certain “observed behaviors” that presume to make suspects of us all. At a congressional hearing last year, Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said she hoped that by the end of the year the SARs, which are already in use in twenty-nine cities, would be implemented nationwide. The Los Angeles Police Department was the first to introduce SARs. Among the “suspicious activities” listed on its website are joggers stretching “for an inordinate amount of time” and people carrying on “long conversations on pay or cellular phones.”

After the federal court in Albany sentenced Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain to fifteen years in prison, the city’s Muslim community was so outraged that the FBI moved Malik, the informant, to an undisclosed location. In January 2010 various Muslim community listservs circulated a photo and video of Malik in an email titled “Vid & Pic of snitch,” which included a warning that he was not to be trusted. A few months later the Albany city council passed a resolution urging the DOJ to review its policies on “preemptive prosecutions” of terrorism cases, saying that they unfairly targeted Muslims. But by then it was too late. In June 2008, Malik had been dispatched to a mosque in nearby Newburgh, New York, where he befriended an ex-convict named James Cromitie, who had converted to Islam in prison. Over a period of several months, posing again as a wealthy Pakistani businessman, but this time named Maqsood, Malik treated Cromitie to free meals and offered him a BMW while drawing his attention to a plan to attack two synagogues in the Bronx. Malik promised Cromitie $250,000 if they pulled off the scheme. The government had again devised the plot and again provided the incriminating material, designing and constructing a fake bomb complete with inert explosives and hundreds of ball bearings.

In announcing the arrest of the Newburgh Four in May 2009, the police once again assured the public that the operation had been “fully controlled at all times.” For much of the sting, it was unclear whether Cromitie, who worked the night shift at Walmart, was serious about engaging in terrorism or was just desperate for cash. On one occasion, Cromitie was taped asking Malik for money to buy groceries. When Malik gave him a camera to photograph potential bomb targets, Cromitie immediately sold it to a neighbor for $50. The remaining defendants, whom Cromitie recruited a month before the bombing was to take place, included a schizophrenic who lived in a crack house, surrounded by bottles of his own urine. Another said Malik promised to give him money to help his uncle pay for a liver transplant.

At the trial in August 2010 that found all four men guilty of attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, the presiding judge, who had referred to the proceedings as the “un-terrorism case,” described the government’s behavior in creating the crime as “decidedly troubling.” Indeed, the plot was so staged that the police had blocked off the street where the bust would take place. When they pulled over the defendants’ car moments after they had placed the two fake bombs outside synagogues in the Bronx, the FBI found Malik right where they’d scripted him to be: at the wheel of the getaway car.








SEE ALSO: Domestic terrorism; Imprisonment; Hossain, Mohammed; Muslims; Prevention; Terrorism; Trials (Terrorism); Undercover operations; United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation; Aref, Yassin