Has the FBI Ever Foiled a Real Terrorist Plot?

Amine El Khalifi, the latest victim of an FBI sting

Yesterday, the FBI arrested another fake terrorist, just one in a long line of potential “terrorists” who have been given training and equipment by the government and then busted as they try to carry out their “plots”–plots that seem to have been designed by–or at least strongly encouraged by–FBI agents. From The Washington Post:

Federal authorities on Friday arrested a 29-year-old Moroccan man in an alleged plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a series of terrorism-related arrests resulting from undercover sting operations.

For more than a year, Amine El Khalifi, of Alexandria, considered attacking targets including a synagogue, an Alexandria building with military offices and a Washington restaurant frequented by military officials, authorities said. When arrested a few blocks from the Capitol around lunchtime on Friday, he was carrying what he believed to be a loaded automatic weapon and a suicide vest ready for detonation.

The gun and vest were provided not by al-Qaeda, as Khalifi had been told, but by undercover FBI agents who rendered them inoperable, authorities said.

They said Khalifi had been the subject of a lengthy investigation and never posed a threat to the public….

Khalifi “allegedly believed he was working with al-Qaeda,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Khalifi “devised the plot, the targets and the methods on his own.”

The Washington Post must think Americans are stupid. Emptywheel, who has done a great deal of research on these FBI sting operations, doesn’t seem to think Khalifi planned the “attack” by himself.

As is usual with most of FBI’s terrorist arrests of late, the FBI provided the suspect with the weapons he would have used to attack the target–in this case, the Capitol. As is usual, this appears to be an instance where the FBI found someone talking about violence–usually online–and then cultivated that violent desire over time.

So it seems like this is a now-familiar story.

Later in the post, she writes:

The FBI says his own plan was to be dropped off at the Capitol building.

But what happened instead is he did a Deep Throat in a parking garage to get his empty suicide vest.

So whose plan was he implementing, again?

I’m mentioning this arrest yesterday, because we’ve seen this repeated again and again. The FBI announces a big arrest and then later we learn that the whole plan was hatched by FBI agents who sucked in some angry kid and convinced him to commit some “terrorist act.”

On Thursday, just one day before the latest big FBI “terrorism” bust in DC, the so-called Underwear Bomber was sentenced to life in prison. ABC News (which also seems to think we’re stupid):

Umar Farouk Abulmatallab

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was the same remorseless man who four months ago pleaded guilty to all charges related to Northwest Airlines Flight 253. He seemed to relish the mandatory sentence and defended his actions as rooted in the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

“Mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God,” he said. “Today is a day of victory.”

Had the bomb not fizzled, nearly 300 people aboard the flight would probably have been killed.

The case stirred renewed fears that terrorists could still bring down an American jetliner more than eight years after 9/11, and it accelerated installation of body scanners at the nation’s airports.

Please note that Abdulmutallab “was subdued by fellow passengers,” not anyone from law enforcement. Before the sentencing, four passengers and a member of the crew from Flight 253 were allowed to give victim impact statements. One of those statements came from Detroit attorney Kurt Haskell, whom the ABC “news” story characterizes as follows:

Because he was a passenger, Detroit-area lawyer Kurt Haskell was allowed to publicly repeat his wild claim that the U.S. government outfitted Abdulmutallab with a defective bomb partly to force the rollout of body-imaging machines at airports.

Kurt and Lori Haskell, who were on Flight 253

Is Haskell really making a “wild claim?” Here is his statement to the court:

I wish to thank the Court for allowing me these 5 minutes to make my statement. My references to the government in this statement refer to the Federal Government excluding this Court and the prosecution. On Christmas Day 2009, my wife and I were returning from an African safari and had a connecting flight through Amsterdam. As we waited for our flight, we sat on the floor next to the boarding gate. What I witnessed while sitting there and subsequent events have changed my life forever. While I sat there, I witnessed Umar dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, being escorted around security by a man in a tan suit who spoke perfect American English and who aided Umar in boarding without a passport. The airline gate worker initially refused Umar boarding until the man in the tan suit intervened. The event meant nothing to me at the time. Little did I know that Umar would try to kill me a few hours later as our flight approached Detroit. The final 10 minutes of our flight after the attack were the worst minutes of my life. During those 10 minutes I sat paralyzed in fear. Unfortunately, what happened next has had an even greater impact on my life and has saddened me further.

When we landed, I was shocked that our plane taxied up to the gate. I was further shocked that we were forced to sit on the plane for 20 minutes with powder from the so called bomb all over the cabin. The officers that boarded the plane did nothing to ensure our safety and did not check for accomplices or other explosive devices. Several passengers trampled through parts of the bomb as they exited the plane. We were then taken into the terminal with our unchecked carry on bags. Again, there was no concern for our safety even though Umar told the officers that there was another bomb on board as he exited the plane. I wondered why nobody was concerned about our safety, accomplices or other bombs and the lack of concern worried me greatly. I immediately told the FBI my story in order to help catch the accomplice I had seen in Amsterdam. It soon became obvious that the FBI wasn’t interested in what I had to say, which upset me further. For one month the government refused to admit the existence of the man in the tan suit before changing course and admitting his existence in an ABC News article on January 22, 2010. That was the last time the government talked about this man. The video that would prove the truth of my account has never been released. I continue to be emotional upset that the video has not been released. The Dutch police, meanwhile, in this article (show article), also confirmed that Umar did not show his passport in Amsterdam which also meant that he didn’t go through security as both are in the same line in Amsterdam. It upsets me that the government refuses to admit this fact.

I became further saddened from this case, when Patrick Kennedy of the State Department during Congressional hearings, admitted that Umar was a known terrorist, was being followed, and the U.S. allowed him into the U.S. so that it could catch Umar’s accomplices. I was once again shocked and saddened when Michael Leiter of the National Counter terrorism Center admitted during these same hearings that intentionally letting terrorists into the U.S. was a frequent practice of the U.S. Government. I cannot fully explain my sadness, disappointment and fear when I realized that my government allowed an attack on me intentionally.

During this time, I questioned if my country intentionally put a known terrorist onto my flight with a live bomb. I had many sleepless nights over this issue. My answer came shortly thereafter. In late 2010, the FBI admitted to giving out intentionally defective bombs to the Portland Christmas Tree Bomber,the Wrigley Field Bomber and several others. Further, Mr. Chambers was quoted in the Free Press on January 11, 2011 when he indicated that the government’s own explosives experts had indicated that Umar’s bomb was impossibly defective. I wondered how that could be. Certainly, I thought, Al Qaeda wouldn’t go through all of the trouble to plan such an attack only to provide the terrorist with an impossibly defective bomb.

I attended nearly all of the pretrial hearings. At the hearing on January 28, 2011, I was greatly disappointed by the prosecution’s request to block evidence from Mr. Chambers “as it could then be able to be obtained by third parties, who could use it in a civil suit against the government”. It really bothered me that the government apparently was admitting to wrongdoing of some kind as it admitted that it was concerned it would be sued. It further upset me to know that the government was putting its own interests ahead of those of the passengers.

When I attended the jury selection hearings, I questioned why versions of the same two questions kept coming up, those being:

1. Do you think whether you’ll be able to tell whether something is actually a bomb? and
2. Do you realize that sometimes the media doesn’t always tell the truth?

I continued to be greatly saddened at this point as I felt the truth continued to be hidden.

When Umar listed me as his only witness, I was happy to testify, not on his behalf, but on behalf of the truth. I never expected to testify, as my eyewitness account would have been too damaging to the myth that the government and media are putting forward. A mere 5 days after I was announced as a witness, there was an inexplicable guilty plea which exasperated me as I no longer would be testifying.

In closing I will just say that regardless of how the media and government try to shape the public perception of this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. Government agent and placed on our flight without showing a passport or going through security, to stage a false terrorist attack to be used to implement various government policies.

The effect this matter has had on my life has been astounding and due to this case, I will never trust the government in any matter, ever.

In regards to sentencing, nothing I’ve said excuses the fact that Umar tried to kill me. He has waived his valid claim to the entrapment defense. Umar, you are not a great Muslim martyr, you are merely a “Patsy”. I ask the court to impose the mandatory sentence.

Haskell’s wife Lori says that she was treated pretty badly by the judge in the case. No one really wanted her or her husband to tell about what they saw and experienced on Christmas Day 2009.

I imagine Joseph Cannon and/or Emptywheel will write about this case again soon. They are both much better at this kind of thing than I am, so I thought I would just lay the facts out for you as I see them. If you are interested in more information, you can read Cannon’s previous posts on the underwear bomber here and Emptywheel’s here.

What do you think? (Keeping in mind that former DHS head Michael Chertoff made big bucks from the naked body scanners now being used by the TSA.)

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13 Comments on “Has the FBI Ever Foiled a Real Terrorist Plot?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    According to Lori Haskell, after her husband Kurt read his victim impact statement, the judge turned to Lori and asked, “Ms. Haskell, do you have anything to add besides what Mr. Haskell just stated about his government conspiracy theories?”

    These two were on an airplane that supposedly could have blown up and killed them and 298 others.

  2. janicen says:

    I totally believe this whole thing was staged in order to ensure the installation of the body scanners in airports and to make us feel more secure that another terrorist attempt was thwarted. From what I’ve read, apparently there was no detonator on the “bomb”? We’re all being played here.

  3. peggysue22 says:

    I still read over at No Quarter, BB. Though I rarely comment there anymore, I do find Larry Johnson’s comments on intelligence matters pretty convincing. Johnson doesn’t buy into this latest terrorist plot either, thinks the whole thing was a sting operation, set up by the FBI with little help from the Alexandria PD. He too is concerned about this ridiculous, dangerous push for action in Iran. So, we have war cries being pounded by the media [Cenk Ugyur did an amazing smack down of CNN's Erin Burnett] and now [conveniently] we have a well-timed terrorist arrest that sounds fishy at best.

    Deja vu!

    Great post.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The latest one was definitely a sting. The FBI said so. Have they ever thwarted anything real? All I’ve ever heard about is sting operations.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        I think you are right BB, they have been all stings…and am I wrong but aren’t all the people who “get” the bomb/terrorist equipment FBI agents?

        The FBI didn’t have a sting going with the times square bomber right? That bomb was found by the NYPD.

    • SophieCT says:

      Late to the party as well. Thanks for covering this. Once thing I didn’t appreciate in Larry’s post was this line:

      I’m not criticizing the FBI for this. They did their job and proactively weeded out a religious nut willing to inflict violence if given the right tools.

      So this is now the way to weed out and proactively prevent violence? I am criticizing the FBI.

  4. dakinikat says:

    This gives new meaning to the old idea of a “fishing expedition”

    NYPD Spied On Muslims At Yale, Sent Undercover On Whitewater Rafting Trip

    http://gothamist.com/2012/02/18/nypd_spied_on_muslims_at_yale_sent.php

    Another day, another damning revelation of the role that religion played in the NYPD’s extensive surveillance of the Muslim community. The AP reports that in addition to monitoring college students at schools in the New York City area, the department monitored Muslim students at Yale and University of Pennsylvania, and even sent an undercover officer on a whitewater rafting trip where he took detailed notes on the students and their activities.

    In defense of their monitoring of Muslim student associations (or “MSAs” in police parlance) NYPD spokesman Paul Brown gave the AP a list of 12 people who were arrested or convicted worldwide who were once members of MSAs. “As a result, the NYPD deemed it prudent to get a better handle on what was occurring at MSAs,” Browne told the outlet via email, and noted that the surveillance was conducted from 2006-2007.

    But the whitewater rafting trip occurred in April of 2008, and was sponsored by a Muslim student association. 18 students went on the trip to upstate New York, and the undercover noted, “In addition to the regularly scheduled events (Rafting), the group prayed at least four times a day, and much of the conversation was spent discussing Islam and was religious in nature.” As the AP dutifully points out: “Praying five times a day is one of the core traditions of Islam.” Hmm, wasn’t that in a training video or something that the NYPD used?

  5. I’m a little late to “the party,” sorry. Thx for doing this post, BB. The practice by law enforcement of “stings” has always bothered me. They just seem like the precursor to the Cruise/Spielberg movie “Minority Report.”

    Of course, lying to the public by our government isn’t something new. Gore Vidal’s account of why we went to war with Japan indicates that Pearl Harbor could have been prevented. And, unfortunately, I can’t recall the source but I read that the Gulf of Tonkin incident that started the Viet Nam war was bogus. A US warship was not hit. There is this on Wikipedia, however: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_Incident Kind of like WMD in Iraq. If our presidents are unconcerned about risking/ruining the lives of so many military men & women, why would they care about fewer than 300 airline passengers?

  6. janey says:

    It is not only this war but the FBI seem to screw up all over the place. Waco could have been prevented if only they had arrested what’s-his-face when he was outside and alone. Instead they wait until he is deep inside his walls and then they try to arrest him. And there have been other things like that. The Atlanta bombing thing comes to mind. They spent tons trying to prove the security guard did it, and all the effort proved nothing, but they went on and on, for years. Turns out it was someone else right?? I can’t think of a single case that the FBI has actually solved.