Suppose you were a young person from the Muslim community in the United States and you were just trolling around the internet – maybe on Facebook – interested in what is happening in the Muslim world, and you came across Abdel Tounisi and started chatting with him online. Next thing you know, you might have some guy introduce himself at your local Mosque and start talking about “jihad”, and… Pretty soon, you’re facing 15 to 25 years from some hair-brained bomb scheme that this guy had proposed to you… And you find out that he was an FBI informant.
18 Year-old Entrapped
This, after all, is what happened to Abdel al-Tounisi, an 18 year old from Chicago, who fell for a fake web site set up by the FBI to lure impressionable youths like al-Tounisi. He was ultimately arrested at the airport, allegedly on his way to fight in the Syrian civil war and now faces up to 15 years in jail.
Al-Tounisi is not alone. Throughout the US, FBI agents and informants are infiltrating mosques and entrapping gullible individuals, conning them into taking part in bomb plots and similar actions in order to arrest them. In one instance, an individual “was targeted by the government and his codefendants with an offer by a government informer, posing as a Pakistani terrorist, of $250,000 and a BMW to get them involved in a plot to plant bombs at a Newburgh (NJ) synagogue.” It should be noted that Newburgh is an impoverished town, so the offer of a quarter of a million dollars is very significant.
You Are Being Watched!
It is in this context that the federal spying on everybody (!) here in the US should be understood. This is not just some innocent project to understand the links between potentially dangerous “terrorists”; it is part of what the US government was set out to do: Protect the interests of Corporate America.
In the 1960s and ’70s we saw “Cointelpro”. Under this program, FBI agents and informers were sent into the movement against the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panther Party, etc. In the Black Panthers, for instance, they were infamous for
J. Edgar Hoover – Would you want this man spying on you?
stirring up distrust between different members. According to one former FBI agent, it was an FBI infiltrator who set up the Chicago police raid that killed Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. This infiltrator even gave the Chicago police a detailed floor plan of Hampton’s apartment so they would know exactly where to shoot.
Chicago police smiling as they carry away body of Fred Hampton
Back in the 1970s, this author knew a former ship yard worker from Southern California who had served time for a bomb plot. This worker, a union radical at the time, said that a fellow union member had come to him with a plot to bomb the company’s headquarters. At one point, he actually brought the “bomb”. The target for this plot – the acquaintance of this writer – took the “bomber” and his “bomb” in a car out towards the desert with the intention of disposing of it. On the way, he was arrested. He’d been set up.
It is in this context that we should understand the current revelations about federal spying on everybody (!) here in the US. “Oh,” they say, “we’re only seeing who contacts whom.” But that is the first step. This is not just about protecting the public from terrorist plots. For the moment, it is mainly about finding excuses to entrap Muslim Americans in order to maintain the fear. (This fear about Muslim terrorists has been necessary ever since the collapse of “Communism.”)
In the future, this data mining – combined with entrapment and actual targeting for more drastic action – will be increasingly turned on worker radicals, environmental activists, etc. That is the real reason why it is a danger.