By Stephen Lendman
The FBI’s top six news stories for the week ending September 25 were about arrests and/or indictments of suspected Muslim terrorists. Combined, they became the latest national security targets in America’s war on Islam.
Waged relentlessly since 9/11, it continues unabated under Obama for the same political advantage George Bush sought by stoking fear to be used as a pretext to wage imperial wars and crack down ruthlessly at home with police state efficiency – today against Muslims, Latino immigrants, environmental and animal rights activists, and street protestors, tomorrow against anyone voicing dissent.
Najibullah Zazi – The FBI’s Top Story for the Week Ending September 25, 2009
On September 24, an FBI press release announced the indictment of Najibullah Zazi, an Aurora, CO-based legal US resident from Afghanistan on a conspiracy charge "to use weapons of mass destruction (explosive bombs) against persons or property in the United States" based on allegations that he "received bomb-making instructions in Pakistan, purchased components of improvised explosive devices, and traveled to New York City on September 10 in furtherance of his criminal plans."
He was also charged with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI regarding international and domestic terrorism. In addition, the indictment alleges that he and others traveled in interstate and foreign commerce and used email and the Internet to carry out his "criminal plans." If convicted, Zazi faces a potential life sentence even though he’s likely another victim of police state justice in Washington’s war on Islam.
New York Times writers David Johnston and Scott Shane called it "One of the Most Serious (Cases) in Years based on documents filed against Zazi that "he bought chemicals needed to build a bomb – hydrogen peroxide, acetone and hydrochloric acid – and in doing so, Mr. Zazi took a critical step made by few other terrorism suspects." He made his purchases at a beauty shop, hardly the sort of venue for terrorist supplies.
Hydrogen peroxide is a common bleaching agent and mild disinfectant. Acetone is an inflammable organic solvent used in nail polish remover, making plastics and for cleaning purposes in laboratories. Hydrochloric acid is used in oil production, ore reduction, food processing, pickling, and metal cleaning. It’s also found in the stomach in diluted form.
Zazi’s indictment alleges that he learned explosives techniques at a Pakistani Al-Queda training camp, that he stored nine pages of "formulations and instructions" on his laptop regarding the chemicals he bought for "the manufacture and handling of initiating explosives, main explosives charges, (and) explosives detonators and components of a fuzing system," and that he planned to attack New York commuter trains or another major target on the eighth 9/11 anniversary, even though he built no bombs and the chemicals he bought can be freely purchased over-the-counter by anyone.
Nonetheless, Jarret Brachman, author of Global Jihadism and a government terrorist consultant, said despite more details to be learned, the case was "shaping up to be one of the most serious terrorist bomb plots developed in the United States," one resembling the London July 2005 underground attacks.
On July 7, 2005, multiple mock terror drills occurred at the same time as the transit system attack. In addition, other UK and American mock drills took place on the same day and exact time as actual "terror" attacks. On the 9/11 morning, in fact, at the same time the twin towers were struck, the CIA in Virginia was running "a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building." Described by the administration as "a bizarre coincidence," the media never mentioned it. The story was buried and forgotten, and no investigation followed.
Karen Greenberg, executive director of New York University’s Center on Law and Security called other post-9/11 prosecutions "fantasy terrorism cases," yet, citing scary ingredients, preemptively sees Zazi as "the case the government kept claiming it had but never did," even though conclusive evidence is absent, Zazi denies involvement in a terror plot, and by law he’s innocent until proved guilty.
Even The Times acknowledges that:
— veteran counterterrorism investigators admit that important facts remain unknown, including whether Zazi selected a specific target, date, and recruited others to help;
— no operational bomb exists, according to DOJ officials; and
— it’s unclear why a Colorado-based man drove to New York without the chemicals he bought at home, perhaps indicating they were for another purpose, not terrorism.
Yet US prosecutor Tim Neff told a Denver federal judge that Zazi "was intent on being in New York on 9/11 (and that he) was in the throes of making a bomb and attempting to perfect his formulation." He called circumstantial evidence a "chilling, disturbing sequence of events" pointing to a possible terror attack, but where’s the bomb and what’s the motive?
Others Arrested and Charged with Zazi – The FBI’s Second Top Story for the Week Ending September 25, 2009
An earlier September 20 FBI press release announced two others arrested with Zazi "on charges of making false statements to federal agents in an ongoing terror investigation" – his father, Mohammed Wali Zazi and Ahmad Wais Afzali.
"Each of the defendants has been charged by criminal complaint with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism." If convicted, Afzali and Zazi’s father face up to eight years in prison. His son may be incarcerated for life, yet the FBI admits that:
"It is important to note that we have no specific information regarding the timing, location or target of any planned attack," nor can they find a bomb.
In other words, none exists nor evidence of a motive or plan to detonate one, yet the FBI arrested and charged three men on dubious suspicions and got highly-charged media reports to suggest "a big one" was imminent.
It’s typical of how the Justice Department operates – shoot, ready, aim. In other words, first arrest, charge, and generate fear through the media, then invent a plot, concoct evidence to prove it, indict suspects, bring them to trial, and intimidate juries to convict because no one wants terrorists in their neighborhood even though the likelihood is virtually nil.
The September 20 press release merely added that:
On August 28, 2008, "Najibullah Zazi flew to Peshawar, Pakistan from Newark International Airport via Geneva, Switzerland and Doha, Qatar. CBP (US Customs and Border Protection) records further reflect that (Zazi) traveled from Peshawar to John F. Kennedy International Airport on or about Jan. 15, 2009."
"On September 10, 2009, New York City Police Department (NYPD) detectives met with defendant Afzali (a Flushing, NY resident), whom the NYPD had utilized as a source in the past," suggesting that the DOJ will use him against the younger Zazi and offer leniency if he cooperates – a familiar tactic to frame other innocent victims and show how law enforcement is removing "bad guys," targeted for political advantage.
According to The New York Times, he was born on August 10, 1985 in a small Eastern Afghanistan village. In 1991 or 1992, his family moved to the Peshawar area of Pakistan – "ground zero in the US jihadist war and home to many Al-Queda operatives," according to the DOJ.
In the early 1990s, Mohammed Zazi, his father, came to Flushing, New York, drove a cab, worked 12-hour shifts, lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and prayed at the nearby Hazrat Abu Bakr Mosque. The younger Zazi was much like others in his high school, but he did poorly in his studies and dropped out before graduating. According to his step-uncle, Mr. Rasooli, "He was a dumb kid, believe me," but tried to make enough money to help his father.
He worked as a coffee cart vendor on New York streets, and said he drove back to New York to clear up related issues. According to an old customer, Imran Khan, he was back at his regular spot on the morning of September 11, 2009. Khan and others saw him joking and laughing with some old regulars, not heading off to detonate bombs.
In addition, an acquaintance named Rahul recalled Zazi saying about the 9/11 attacks: "I don’t know how people could do things like this. I’d never do anything like that." Other friends agreed that he abhorred violence and called terrorism at odds with the teachings of Islam. He was a devout Muslim, grew his beard long, and occasionally wore tunics instead of more Western-style clothes.
On a 2006 trip to Pakistan, he married and hoped later to be able to afford to bring his new wife to America. Each year, he flew back to see her, including on August 28, 2008, the FBI-announced trip in its press release. Two months after he returned the following January, he filed for bankruptcy and moved to Colorado to live more cheaply and be close to an aunt and uncle in Aurora.
He worked as a shuttle van driver at Denver International Airport, applied for a limousine license, underwent an airport background check, then drove a van for the Big Sky Company and later ABC Transportation. In July, 2009, his parents left New York and joined him.
On September 25, New York Times writer Michael Wilson headlined his story, "From Smiling Coffee Vendor to Terror Suspect, and said:
"according to federal investigators, (Zazi worked on bomb materials) in a hotel suite he rented in Aurora," but unexplained was how he could afford it on his small income along with his regular apartment. Yet, investigators "say chemical residue they found in the kitchen there indicates he tried to heat up the beauty supplies (he bought) to help convert them in a bomb." But unexplained was how someone called "dumb" would be smart enough to make bombs for potentially the "biggest terror case since 9/11," according to CBS News. In federal court on September 29, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, but was held without bail pending trial
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi – The FBI’s Third Top Story for the Week Ending September 25, 2009
On September 24, an FBI press release "announced today that Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, (was arrested in downtown Dallas) and charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction….after he placed an ‘inert/inactive’ car bomb" near a 60-story office tower. "Smadi, a Jordanian citizen in the US illegally….repeatedly espoused his desire to commit violent jihad and has been the focus of an undercover FBI investigation."
He "made clear his intention to serve as a soldier for Usama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, and to conduct violent jihad. Undercover FBI agents, posing as members of an al Queda ‘sleeper’ cell, were introduced to Smadi, who repeatedly indicated to them that he came to the US for the specific purpose of committing ‘Jihad for the sake of God’….against those he deemed to be enemies of Islam."
On September 27, James C. McKinley, Jr. headlined his New York Times story, "Friends’ Portrait of Texas Bomb Plot Suspect at Odds With FBI." They called him an extremely outgoing young man, who smoked marijuana and drank beer with his friends in the complex where he lived. He did endless favors for them, held barbecues, and baby-sat for neighborhood children.
He also went to local dance clubs featuring Arabic techno music, and at home, had friends over to watch action movies on his widescreen TV. A Ms. Deloach said He "came here because it was really strict out there in Jordan. He wanted freedom." According to McKinley:
"That no one here suspected (him) of hating Americans suggests he was either an extremely talented undercover terrorist or a troubled young man at war with himself, going out of the way to befriend Americans he lived with while, the authorities say, plotting to kill thousands of people when he surfed radical Islamic chat rooms online." Or perhaps he’s neither of the above, just an ordinary person justifiably angry about Washington’s war on Islam but not plotting a terror bombing to retaliate.
According to his father in Jordan:
The charges against his son are "completely fabricated and in our family we never condoned terrorism." He added that his other son Hussein, aged 18, was also arrested in California, apparently related to Hosam’s case. They both entered the country legally in 2007 on student visas.
The Smadi case is a typical FBI sting, much like others designed to entrap unwitting victims, this time with undercover agents, other times with paid informants usually charged with crimes and offered leniency for their cooperation.
One of many earlier cases involved the "Fort Dix Five" – innocent Muslim men convicted of conspiracy and other charges related to plans to kill as many soldiers as possible on the Army base, a ludicrous charge but it stuck. Described as "radical Islamists," the media played along and the result was predictable even though there was no plot and no crime, just a familiar FBI sting operation to entrap them, then intimidate a jury to convict.
According to Anthony Barkow, former federal prosecutor and current executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University’s School of Law:
"A person (often) is entrapped when he has no previous intention to violate the law and is persuaded to commit the crime by government agents."
Further, US conspiracy law prosecutions can be based on such thin evidence that former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson once said it "constitutes a serious threat to fairness in our administration of justice." According to other legal experts, it let’s prosecutors target people they don’t like, want to convict to set an example, or simply show government is removing dangerous terror threats.
Today, most often they’re Muslims or environmental or animal rights activists, and virtually never is a charged suspect guilty. Yet they’re usually convicted and sentenced to hard time in federal prisons – the fate now awaiting Smadi and the others when their cases come to trial.
Daniel Patrick Boyd – The FBI’s Fourth Top Story for the Week Ending September 25, 2009
On September 24, the FBI announced a "Superseding Indictment in Boyd Matter Charg(ing) Defendants with Conspiring to Murder US Military Personnel (and) Weapons Violations.
Last July 27, dozens of heavily armed Swat and hostage rescue team members arrested Boyd and six other men (the so-called North Carolina 7) on terrorist-related charges, claiming they "conspir(ed) to provide material support to terrorists (and to) murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad" plus other related charges.
The DOJ also alleged that "Boyd is a veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan who, over the past three years, has conspired with others in this country to recruit and help young men travel overseas in order to kill." No evidence was cited, just baseless accusations then trumpeted by the media and others on the far right.
The new indictment includes "all of the charges alleged in the original indictment of July 22, 2009 (plus) new (ones) against three defendants, Daniel Patrick Boyd, aka ‘Saifullah,’ Hysen Sherifi, and (Boyd’s son) Zakariya Boyd, aka ‘Zak.’ " New accusations claim the three men:
"conspir(ed) to murder US military personnel (and to do it) Boyd undertook reconnaissance of the Marine Corp Base located in Quantico, Va., and obtained maps of the base in order to plan an attack on Quantico. (He) possessed armor piercing ammunition, stating it was ‘to attack the Americans.’ "
It’s the same ludicrous charge made against the Fort Dix Five defendants – the preposterous idea that a few men planned to wage war on the US Army. For Boyd and the others, to do it against the Marines, especially at a time of heightened awareness about possible terrorist attacks with military police alerted to prevent suspicious individuals, notably civilians, from getting through base security. Yet, that’s precisely what the new indictment charges, and, if convicted, the men face potential life sentences for offenses they don’t plan to commit.
But according to Attorney General Eric Holder:
"These additional charges hammer home the grim reality that today’s homegrown terrorists are not limiting their violent plans to locations overseas, but instead are willing to set their sights on American citizens and American targets, right here at home," including the Army and Marines.
Michael C. Finton – The FBI’s Fifth Top Story for the Week Ending September 25
On September 24, an FBI press release announced that "Michael C. Finton, aka., ‘Talib Islam,’ has been arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at the federal building in Springfield, Ill."
Another FBI sting was involved, again with undercover agents in a scheme now all too familiar, yet the public seems none the wiser.
According to the FBI:
Finton "dealt with undercover FBI agents and confidential sources who continuously monitored his activities up to the time of his arrest. Further, in his alleged efforts, Finton drove a vehicle containing inactive explosives to the Paul Finley Federal Building and Courthouse in Springfield and attempted to detonate them. (He’s) charged….with one count of attempted murder of federal officers or employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction (aka, an inert, FBI-supplied explosive device)." If convicted, he faces possible life imprisonment.
On September 27, New York Times writer Dirk Johnson headlined "Suspect in Illinois Bomb Plot ‘Didn’t Like America Very Much," so he planned to blow up part of it. He worked as a fry cook at Seals Fish & Chicken in Springfield, IL and is described by co-workers, according to Johnson, as "cheerful and polite, but unwavering when it came to religion and politics." So are many people, but that doesn’t make them "terrorists."
Neighbors in his apartment building called him "mild-mannered" in expressing shock about the charges. A Brandon Jackson said they played chess, card games and watched soccer on television, after which Finton took him out for pizza. Vivian Laster was "baffled" that this "nice young man" was charged with such a plot. Others said he was excited to be a Muslim and occasionally he wrote articles for the Richland Community College student newspaper about campus-related entertainment activities, not the usual topic for a jihadist.
He took the nickname Talib Islam (student of Islam) after converting to the Islamic faith while in prison from 2001 – 2006 on charges of aggravated robbery and battery. The FBI claimed it found a document he wrote about "awaiting a return letter from John Walker Lindh." Called an "American Taliban," he was captured, held and tortured in Afghanistan in 2001 based on false charges that he was a Taliban terrorist fighting US forces. In fact, he only arrived in the country four weeks before 9/11 to help the Taliban against the Afghan warlords supported by Washington.
FBI agents arranged a sting to entrap Finton and succeeded like against the Fort Dix Five and many others. Yet according to prosecutors, he "hope(d) that (his alleged attack) would cause American troops to be pulled back out of Afghanistan and Iraq," said the bombing would be a "historic occasion (to achieve his) biggest dream (of) bringing down the US government," and that he would be "rewarded for his intentions."
Yet court papers said he was suspicious about being "set up," but apparently not clever enough to avoid being manipulated to carry out the alleged plot he’s now charged with. An employee at the federal building in question, a Mr. Meng, was "remind(ed that) there are evil people out there." True enough, but not the ones he imagines.
Betim Kaziu – The FBI’s Sixth Top Story for the Week Ending September 25, 2009
On September 24, an FBI press release announced "An indictment….charging Betim Kaziu, a US citizen and resident of Brooklyn, with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists."
Allegedly, "in early January 2009, (he) devised a plan to travel abroad for the purpose of joining a radical foreign fighter group and to take up arms against perceived enemies of Islam. Kaziu allegedly boarded a flight at John F. Kennedy Airport on Feb. 19, 2009, and traveled to Cairo, Egypt, where he took steps to continue on to Pakistan to obtain training and other support for violent activities….(He) also attempted to join Al-Shabbab, a radicalized, militant (pro-Al-Queda) insurgency group (now) designated as a terrorist organization by the United States Department of State."
In addition, "Kaziu made efforts to travel to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans to fight against US armed forces (and on multiple occasions attempted) to purchase weapons in Egypt. Untimately, Kaziu traveled to Kosovo where he was arrested by Kosovar law enforcement authorities in late August 2009." Afterwards, he told his family that he was visiting a friend when the house was raided, and the weapons seized belonged to his friend’s father.
On September 24, Ray Rivera headlined his New York Times article, "Brooklyn Man Is Accused of Trying to Aid Terrorists," according to an indictment unsealed in Federal District Court. Yet family members expressed shock, his sister, Sihana saying "This is totally unlike him. (He) has a big heart" and was never violent.
Kaziu’s case is similar to the first indictment against Daniel Patrick Boyd and the other North Carolina 7 defendants. The DOJ indictment claimed that from 1989 – 1992, Boyd got "violent jihad" training abroad and "allegedly fought in Afghanistan" against the Soviets. Then from November 2006 through July 2009, he and the others "conspired to provide material support and resources to terrorists, including currency, training, transportation and personnel" plus other charges.
Federal authorities accused them of "loving jihad, fighting for Allah, and loathing a US military presence at Muslim holy sites." Self-styled terrorism expert and notorious Islamophobe Steven Emerson highlighted the charges and claimed the FBI "found a fatwa, or religious edict, in Boyd’s house saying Muslims have ‘an individual duty to kill Americans and their allies.’ "
Of course, Emerson, others on the far right, and the DOJ are notorious for manipulating, doctoring, or inventing evidence to target innocent Muslims, incite fear, and intimidate juries to convict. The charges against Kaziu are as likely bogus as the ones above and against numerous other victims targeted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence and charity. It’s the wrong time to be Muslim in America and vital to know that we’re all equally vulnerable.
– Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday – Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.