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28 November 2010


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LEA types must walk a fine line in cases like this. It's good to see that they've developed an expertise that doesn't rely on Bush-style torture or sending in the Army to break things. While their techniques may not be transferable to the highlands of Afghanistan, at least they can "keep us safe" without breeding up too many new terrorists.


Difficult to judge in my view. In my country this would have been illegal entrapment.

Personally I probably would have done some pretty illegal things in my youth would I have had the means to do them. I didn't had someone offer me the means and therefore put my energy into better issues.

One needs to look really at this case by case.

I am afraid that some of those FBI stings are turning people into "terrorists" that would never have gotten into real terrorism anyway. The Liberty City Seven come to mind. These folks were too dumb to be dangerous.

With sting operations there will inevitably be some false positives, non-guilty people that will end up in jail even though they would never have really harmed anyone.

That's price we pay to pay for sting operations. Are we willing to pay that price?

ex-PFC Chuck

In the typical scenario you describe I would agree with your assessment that the FBI's actions were appropriate. However in a large bureaucratic law enforcement organization like that there are pressures to display scalps and corners in the process can be cut. When that happens the fuzzy line between legitimate action and entrapment can be crossed.

Patrick Lang

ex pfc chuck

Anyone who is willing to detonate a bomb to kill people here should not be sheltered from "entrapment." pl


I can't quite put my finger on it but let me try.

What happens to the nuts who say they want to kill the POTUS? They get a visit from the FBI and possibly a minor jail term?Does the FBI go into 'entrapment' scenarios with these types, even if they have associations and mails from militias and right wing hate groups?

Admittedly, the cost of emailing a operative anywhere in the world is low as is getting a weapon in the USA. It should have been treated as a domestic case with a warning and criminal case.


I'm afraid that I reluctantly have to agree with you Col. Lang.

There must be any number of people, especially younger people, who have wild thoughts of revenge against who knows what in the world from time to time, but lacking the means, get bored, or grow up, before their lunacy is implemented. For example, a few seconds Googling will reveal any number of folk today who believe that the country or city of your choice should be turned into radioactive glass tomorrow.

Not being a lawyer, the question for me in this matter, like others, is exactly who was the prime mover in this case? Who was doing the heavy lifting? The defence will no doubt say the FBI was.

If the Prosecution on the other hand can show that the defendant was always taking the initiative and the FBI simply played the role of Sancho Panza then I have no trouble with conviction.

Eric Dönges


I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but I draw the line at people that would intentionally bomb a day care center, regardless of whether they actually manage to succeed or not.

According to Wikipedia (I think you are also German, if not my apologies):

In German law, it is normally forbidden (§ 26 StGB) to induce or persuade someone to commit a crime, or to attempt to do so (§ 30 StGB, in German). However, the German Federal Court of Justice has held that entrapment by undercover police agents is not a reason to stay the case per se (e.g. GA 1975, 333, 334). If undercover agents have been used without proper justification, punishment for the committed offence may be reduced (1st Senate's decision in 1 StR 148/84 - 23 May, 1984).

In the case of persons who are not initially under suspicion and unlikely to commit a certain crime, a decision from 1999 (18th of November, BGH 1 StR 221/99, in German) stated that entrapment of such persons violates the right to a fair trial (and therefore the punishment for the committed offence may be reduced).

I'm no lawyer, but that would suggest to me that in some cases sting operations would be perfectly legal in Germany.

Patrick Lang


In the cases that I am familiar with the FBI did everything it could to dissuade the plotters. when someone is determined to do something murderous and acts on it, the onus is on them. Since you have suggested it the Secret Service may decide to adopt the FBI's tactics. pl


"Anyone who is willing to detonate a bomb to kill people here should not be sheltered from 'entrapment.' "

Really? That's a rather slippery slope, isn't it?

Who is to judge at what point the defendant decided to consider such an extreme measure? What if the defendant was encouraged by the FBI to agree to engage in a violent act, and had not previously expressed a specific interest in doing so?



I'll say this much, he was one stupid kid. But he was molded very young for this and without resources, until the FBI showed up. Now lets see what happens in court! While I am glad that he FBI did its thing. I still want to see the other side of this story. If the kid cops a plea, then he was cooked. If there is foundation for a solid defense? Well that could make things slightly different.

I really do have a problem with the WMD charges. WMD? the only WMD I know in existence is a nuke. So I have to think this will be reduced to a "conspiracy" charge. Either way he should go to jail. The question is for life or a term sentence?

The big question really is how many like this kid are really out there? Not just those who believe in Jihad? But those here who believe in armed insurrection?

Scary time...

Patrick Lang


You are grasping at straws. I say again anyone willing to set off a bomb in the US and who carries out the act to kill people should be prosecuted no matter what the circumstances that led to that act. pl

Patrick Lang


Look at the case in Dallas. What did Smadi get as a sentence? 24 years. pl

William R. Cumming

Some recent news articles that one out of every five Americans suffer from some form of clinical mental illness. Interesting how Russia has started to use mental illness to incarcerate certain people out of sinc with the regime. Of course big Pharma likes having all those unqualified GP's dispensing psychotropic ehtical drugs and the cartels distributing the illegal ones.


Col. Lang,

"You are grasping at straws. I say again anyone willing to set off a bomb in the US and who carries out the act to kill people should be prosecuted no matter what the circumstances that led to that act. pl "

While I can agree with prosecution, I can think of at least Two sets of extenuating circumstances;

1) Love: "Do it for me darling, don't you love me?"

2) A belief that their act is necessary to "save" the country.



While I do not support the Patriot Act as currently written, at all. I will add that this case and the Dallas case were good law enforcement operations that could have been done without the Patriot Act.

I am also glad to see that the FBI is developing these operations, rather than jumping short. Its shows they have learned the lessons from the other botched stings.

Moreover, this case and the Dallas case, involved people who's neurons were not firing and more like the "Forrest Gump's" of terrorist wannabees. While I am glad the FBI took action. Don't get me wrong, anyone, whether home grown, or foreign who wants to blow buildings up and kill people needs to go to jail.

But, it does not instill confidence in me that the FBI could do this type of operation, with real live, experienced, trained and well funded, terrorists. Though lately AQAP, is looking more like the Marx Brothers.

As far as the charge of WMD is concerned, that is really overkill, no pun intended.

Maybe I will feel better once the FBI short circuits a real terror attempt.

Until then I am very weary of all of this being played up in the press as some type of coup by the FBI.

Roy G

First, this is properly the role of the FBI, so in this case, they did their job. However, there are deeper questions:

What profile does this young man fit? Yes, he had the potential to be dangerous, yet, like the other terror suspects picked up, he's a powerless naif with more ideas than ability. We were told time and again how Al Qaida was going to attack us here, yet the only terrorist suspect arrests 9 years in are domestic kooks, with no real connections to the Global movement.

There is an unacknowledged pattern here: the apprehended terrorist suspects have all been powerless outsiders. Why is that? Well, it relates back to earlier FBI claims about prosecuting Israeli spies and even Coleen Rowley's futile pursuit of the 9/11 hijackers. What's the common thread? Political connections.

Yes, it's great that the FBI got this guy, but let's not kid ourselves: he got got because he's small fry.

Patrick Lang


This has nothing to do with the Patriot Act. It is just good law enforcement. as for Smadi and thi Muhamud character they are esactly the kind of raw material that the "real terrorists" as you seem to think of them are dreaming of as "actors."pl

Patrick Lang

The comment was not directed at you. Why are you responding to it?

Love of country, eh? How about JW Booth? pl

Patrick Lang

Roy G

He didn't fit any profile. He volunteered and persisted in that volunteerism right up to the point at which he phoned in the triogger and thought he had killed all those people.

He didn't have "potential." He tried to kill several hundred Americans. pl



This is being played up as a Patriot Act success story. That is a point that needs to be made. Watch our buddy Pete King go to town on this. Its started already.

Secondly, you know as well as I do that experienced terrorists would not be so easily co-opted. I am not saying that it could not be done, but not like this.

Well trained terrorists would know a real bomb from a set up. Now saying that do I consider both these kids terrorists? I sure do!

Do they deserve to go to jail? They sure do. Do I think that this charge of attempted use of a "WMD" is legit? Certainly not. But I'll take 24 years as a sentence. Though the kid plead out. Shows they had him solid.

If this case goes down as well as the Dallas case. It does show that the FBI is getting the picture.

Does it instill confidence in me? Not really.


If our country had a smarter immigration/visa policy, we would not have to worry about Mohamed Osman Mohamud, Faisal Shahzad, and Mohammed Atta. If these types (young muslim males) are refused entry to our country, then they would be unable to ignite car bombs or fly jets into our office towers.

And please don't throw the Tim McVeigh card on the table. True, he was an American terrorist and he was dealt with accordingly. Why compound our terrorist problem by employing an open-door policy to the deranged peoples from other countries?


"Mr. Mohamud was then placed on a watch list and stopped at the Portland airport in June 2010 when he tried to fly to Alaska for a summer job." From the NYT article.

He volunteered after the FBI made sure he could not accept a job. I have no problem with sting operations, (the arrest of the Toronto 18 for example), but when the investigating agency actively blocking off opportunities for the suspect it makes me suspicious.


Glenn Greenwaldd is reporting that this case stinks to high heaven for several reasons, including the fact that the one conversation where the suspect utttered the crucial words that pre empted an entrapment offence was not recorded "for technical reasons". Everything else was recorded.

The FBI even gave him money to rent an apartment.



The key in the article Pat linked is, I believe, this:

Apparently frustrated, Mohamud tried to fly to Kodiak, Alaska, on June 10. He already was on a no-fly list, however, and was stopped from boarding at Portland International Airport. He told the FBI that he had hoped to go to Yemen, but couldn't obtain a visa or ticket, so had gotten a summer fishing job in Alaska instead.
A frustrated 19 year old with some wild ideas couldn't join what he considers jihad and decides to do hard work as a fisherman in Alaska.

Now he is blocked at that and then the FBI stingers come and offer him to give him a bomb.

Okay so far.

But now imagine that guy would have gone to work fishing in Alaska. Quite a hard work on those trawlers.

I for one find it, from earlier experience myself, and current work with some young people in trouble, that such hard work cures a lot of bad ideas and gives a new identity.

There are some quite successful programs here to put troubled youth on sailing ships and to send those into bad weather. Nine plus Beaufort in the North Sea does wake people up. Especially when sailing.

So could this case have ended differently?

Why not let him go work on a trawler and see how that would end? Instead he got stinged. A productive life wasted that could have probably been saved.

BTW: How much will this have cost the taxpayer after all is done and that guy has served his life sentence?


I am not impressed. You take an idiot college student (who likely sympothizes with the Jihadists because of the recent issues with his birth country) and you lead him on by providing support he would never have and material he would never have and information he would never have and most important confidence he would never have. Does not the entrapment process embolden at the same time pressure the suspect to proceed?

So you have found that this young man is capable of pulling the trigger? He goes to prison. What do you think will happen to him in prison? He will be further radicalized which he will preach to fellow prisoners and which he will further preach when comes out of prison. He will feel persecuted and the entrapment will further reinforce this false perception. What then?

You will populated the prisons with marginal daydreaming terrorist. When they come out of prison, watch out.

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