If you’re lucky, maybe you missed the media’s coverage of the FBI’s capture of a wannabe terrorist in Portland last week. 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud was trying to detonate a fake bomb the FBI gave him at Christmas tree lighting in Portland. That’s right–the FBI provided the fake bomb. The FBI was stoking this guy all the way along, in yet another case of entrapment that should be all too familiar to people who remember the supposedly foiled terrorist attacks against Wrigley Field and the Washington Metro this fall.
The FBI and their pals in the media are quite good at using these “events” for propaganda. It usually goes like this–the FBI busts the schmuck, the media trumpets Our Brave Heroes and The Evil Muslim for a day, and then, just as the real journalists are starting to say “Hey, wait a minute…this was entrapment,” the case has a funny way of falling out of the headlines. The NYT did give entrapment a bit of coverage this time around, presumably since this is the third time it has happened in a few months and they love trend stories. Of course, if you are the average American who sees a promo for the 11 o’clock news during “Dancing with the Stars,” all you would ever know is that the FBI “foiled” a plot–exactly what they would want you to know.
This Mohamud case is especially crazy. For one thing, the FBI has nearly all of their interactions with him taped, EXCEPT for the one moment where they actually needed to establish intentionality. In fact, they have two tapes of most of their interactions. But at that one moment, boy howdy, wouldn’t you know it, that recorder up and failed! The second thing I find insane is that, according to Glenn Greenwald’s article that I first heard discussed on Free Talk Live, Mohamud had been scheduled to go to Alaska as a seasonal fishery worker this summer. And boy howdy, wouldn’t you know it, he was on the federal no-fly list, so he had no choice but to remain jobless in Portland where his FBI entrapment pals were happy to offer him a stipend.
Now, mind you, I’m not trying to defend Mohamud. He is a loser who wanted to kill a lot of innocent people. He sucks. But there is little evidence to indicate he would have been up to this without the FBI’s support, especially if he had flown off to Alaska this summer and hadn’t been tempted by their money.
The one good thing about this case was that it proved to be a big, fat pinata for Glenn Greenwald. Probably the best thing Greenwald points out is that even if Mohamud had been a real terrorist, the reason he gave the FBI informants (and it’s also worth mentioning that FBI informants like the convicted forger mentioned in this story can get paid $140k+ a year tax-free to be agents provocateurs in mosques) for wanting to blow up a bunch of innocent people was that he saw it as retaliation for what American troops and drones are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. Oh, blowback. What a novel idea. Maybe it’s time America stopped behaving like the big, dumb imperialist bully that it is and brought the troops home.