Three Brooklyn men were arrested Feb. 25, charged with attempt and conspiracy to commit material support to ISIL. The announcement of their arrest was no small deal. The officials there to share the glory of a terror plot foiled included Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (President Barack Obama’s nominee for Attorney General); John P. Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security; Diego G. Rodriguez, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office; and New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.
Although we don’t have many details, the case reeks of “manufactured crime.” It follows a pattern we’ve seen in so many other cases, where the FBI targets an individual who has neither the means nor capacity to commit a crime in an entrapment operation. According to the criminal complaint, federal agents visited Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev in August 2014 “after he made a posting on an Uzbek-language website that propagates ISIL’s ideology.” During the visit, Juraboev voluntarily unlocked his iPhone for the agents, and spoke freely about his intentions to engage in illegal activity.
First, JURABOEV acknowledged that he wrote and posted the above-referenced message on Hilofatnews, which he characterized as the Uzbek-language site of ISIL. JURABOEV also stated his belief in ISIL’s terrorist agenda, including the establishment by force of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria. JURABOEV further stated that he would like to travel to Syria to engage in violence on behalf of ISIL “if Allah wills,” but currently lacked the means to travel there. In addition, JURABOEV stated that he would harm President Barack Obama if he had the opportunity to do so, but currently does not have the means or an imminent plan to do so.
At the very least, his willingness to tell federal agents about his aspirations calls into question Juraboev’s intellectual capacity.
Two days later, agents visited him again, and again, he demonstrated his cluelessness, telling them that “if ISIL ordered him to kill President Obama, he would do so.” But alas, he told the agents, he had no means to carry out any of the crimes he would like to commit. He also said he had a friend who shared his desire to join ISIL, Akhror Saidakhmetov. Saidakhmetov had challenges of his own: His mother had confiscated his passport to keep him from leaving the country to join ISIL. Enter the FBI confidential informant, who approached Juraboev at a mosque, pretending to share his support for ISIL. It was the informant’s job to enable the two men to turn their unrealistic fantasies into reality. He weaseled his way into Juraboev and Saidakhmetov’s lives (apparently moving in with Juraboev), encouraging and helping them to find a way to get to Turkey, where they could try to find their way to ISIL territory in Syria.
Murtaza Hussain, writing for The Intercept, notes,
Crucially, it appears that only after the introduction of the informant did any actual arrangements to commit a criminal act come into existence. It stands to reason that during this extended time period, particularly after a seemingly unhinged Juraboev openly expressed his violent and criminal fantasies to FBI agents, other tactics of intervention could have been taken to prevent he and Saidakhmetov from going down this path. The covert informant under the direction of the FBI evidently helped encourage the two toward terrorism over the course of these months. Instead of dissuading them, the informant went so far as to watch recruitment videos with the 19-year-old Saidakhmetov and help him make his travel documents.
Sure, the Department of Justice could have tried to steer the two away from trouble, but it makes better headlines to foil a plot. After all, you can’t have a war on terror without terrorists. Glenn Greenwald made that argument in The Intercept yesterday,
We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of home-grown terrorists, “lone wolf” extremists and ISIS. So intensified are these official warnings that The New York Times earlier this month cited anonymous U.S. intelligence officials to warn of the growing ISIS threat and announce “the prospect of a new global war on terror.” But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate into joining? Does that not, by itself, demonstrate how over-hyped and insubstantial this “threat” actually is? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI, that the agency should devote its massive resources to stopping?
Another fringe benefit? Money. Former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes, who was defending a different FBI sting operation, laid it out pretty clearly (via PrivacySOS.org)
If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the war on terror and everything’s great,’ cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive.
Read more about the Newburg Four, the case Fuentes defends above.