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How FBI Keeps Entrapping Young Muslims: Questions Over Rezwan Ferdaus Bomb Plot Arrest

09 December 2012

By El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):

A report just came to my full attention that hurt my heart more than usual. I literally felt pain in my chest, and ended up taking an aspirin as a precaution (although I know that when it's my time, it will be my time).

A young brother by the name of Rezwan Ferdaus was sentenced earlier this month for an alleged terrorism conspiracy, which involved at least one "cooperating witness" and two FBI agents posing as terrorist functionaries. My heart goes out to his family.

I had heard about this case a few months ago, but didn't realize I knew this young brother until I saw his photograph in the latest online newsletter release of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms ( www.CivilFreedoms.org ). When I saw the photo I was reminded immediately of the two or three conversations I had with Ferdaus on at least two of my visits to Massachusetts (Boston and Worcester) about a year and a half, or so, ago.

Rezwan is a soft-spoken, highly intelligent brother who was deeply affected (some might argue, emotionally traumatized) by the oppressive conditions afflicting a growing number of Muslim societies overseas - especially as a result of the so-called "war on terrorism." Each time he would hear me speak on the challenges confronting Muslims (both here and abroad) he would express his appreciation and offer a bit of thoughtful personal analysis.

Whenever we would disagree (on what the most appropriate response should be to these challenges) he was always respectful. I sincerely believe that if he and I could have had more time discussing the issues together, this unfortunate case may not have occurred. (ALLAH knows best.)

Rezwan Ferdaus is in his mid-20s; and as a result of the plea agreement, he received a 17 year sentence for what he aspired to do - with manipulation, encouragement, and material support from ambitious, and possibly venom-filled, undercover government agents! Is this fair? I don't think so!
The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns, was reportedly touched by Rezwan's statement to the court; a statement that was both philosophical and introspective. Judge Stearns reportedly said, "You don't need any lecture from me. Your statement convinces me that you have the character and the capacity to search your own soul. I'm going to leave it to you to finish that journey."

What follows are a number of articles on the case of Rezwan Ferdaus. These are followed by a report on a new (alleged) terrorism conspiracy case in California involving four Muslim men; and this is followed by a report on the sentencing of five young non-Muslim men who were charged with a "terrorism conspiracy" in Cleveland.

Two things, in my humble opinion, spared the five non-Muslim men from receiving the unreasonably heavy handed sentence that government prosecutors were arguing for (given the fact that this too was a preemptive prosecution of a terrorism conspiracy that never achieved fruition). Those two factors were: (a) non-Muslim, and (b) skin color.

With that said, I'm glad that they were able to get a little bit of a break....because for every accused person justice demands that the punishment should fit the crime!


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/ sep/29/fbi-entrapment-rezwan-ferdaus?

FBI faces entrapment questions over Rezwan Ferdaus bomb plot arrest

Sting operation to arrest physics graduate, 26, raises concerns that US Muslims might be targeted using entrapment techniques

• Read the affidavit filed by prosecutors (pdf)

•guardian.co.uk, Thursday 29 September 2011 15.34 EDT

Rezwan Ferdaus is accused of plotting to crash explosive-filled miniature planes into the US Capital and Pentagon. Photograph: AP
The dramatic arrest of a man in Massachusetts accused of plotting to crash explosive-filled miniature airplanes into the US Capitol and the Pentagon has sparked fresh concerns that the FBI might be using entrapment techniques aimed at Muslims in America.

Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old US citizen and physics graduate who lived at home with his parents in Ashland, near Boston, was the target of an FBI sting in which he bought a miniature aircraft that he planned to outfit as a flying bomb.

Ferdaus, who is being held without bail, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on Thursday. The six-count indictment – which also covered his alleged efforts to provide support and resources for al-Qaida groups attacking US troops abroad – said he "planned to commit acts of violence against the United States" with the goal of "decapitating" the nation's military center "and killing as many 'kafirs' [non-believers] as possible." A detention hearing has been set for October 3.

However, some legal organisations and Muslim groups have questioned whether Ferdaus, whose activities were carried out with two undercover FBI agents posing as terrorists, would have been able to carry out such a sophisticated plot if left to his own devices. In numerous previous cases in the US, the FBI has been accused of over-zealousness in its investigations and of entrapping people into terror plots who might otherwise not have carried out an attack.

"It deeply concerns us. It is another in a pattern of high-profile cases. Would this person have conceived or executed this plot without the influence of the FBI?" said Heidi Boghosian, president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also expressed its concern and wondered if more details would later emerge at trial that showed the full scale of the FBI involvement in setting up the sting. "There is a big, big difference between a plot initiated by the FBI and a plot initiated by a suspect, and it seems this might have been initiated by the FBI," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's director of communications.

The lengthy affidavit filed by prosecutors against Ferdaus details an elaborate plot in which he repeatedly expressed his desire to kill Americans and his support for Islamic jihad. The affidavit showed he came up with a detailed plan of attack and even scouted his targets in Washington in person. He also built mobile phone "detonators" that he supplied to undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaida terrorists and expressed his pleasure when told him they had been used to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

However, the affidavit also raises several questions. Few details are given as to how Ferdaus came to the attention of the FBI. Mention is only made of a co-operating witness, known as CW, who met Ferdaus in December 2010 and soon began recording his conversations.

No details are given as to CW's identity, but it is mentioned that he or she has a criminal record and has served time in prison. That raises the possibility that the CW may have had some ulterior motive to bring an alleged terror suspect to the attention of the FBI or could be an unreliable witness.

Another potential area of concern is a meeting on 19 April 2011, when the undercover agents met with Ferdaus and questioned the "feasibility" of his plan. That raises the prospect that the FBI agents were somehow goading Ferdaus into more action. "Ferdaus responded in a defensive manner that he had made progress," the affidavit stated.

At the same meeting the undercover agents also gave financial assistance for Ferdaus to travel to Washington on a scouting trip: a fact that raises the question of whether he would have made the trip without that financial help. The undercover agents also supplied thousands of dollars in cash for Ferdaus to buy the F-86 Sabre miniature plane to be used in an attack.

Another portion of the affidavit also details Ferdaus's enthusiasm for making mobile phone detonation devices that he believed were being sent to Iraq and used by terrorists. Ferdaus suggested sending a box of 50 mobile phones to war zones where terrorists were in need of them. He even wanted to set up a sort of workshop to produce up to 30 of the devices a week.

"Ferdaus indicated that he could write instructions or make a video on how to construct the cell phone detonation devices," the affidavit said. Such an apparently outlandish idea that hinges on the idea that Islamic terrorists are desperately short of cheap mobile phones might suggest Ferdaus was, to some extent, a fantasist rather than a genuine threat.

However, some legal experts said that the case against Ferdaus appeared compelling, especially as he frequently and repeatedly indicated his desire and willingness to carry out terrorist attacks against Americans. In trying to mount a successful defence of entrapment it is vital to prove that a suspect has no pre-disposition to the crime they are accused of doing. In the Ferdaus case that would seem to be difficult, lawyers said.

"He took the weaponry and agreed to do it. That demonstrates a propensity and willingness to do it," said Anthony Barkow, a former terrorism prosecutor and executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University.

Barkow defended the FBI investigation and said that the US authorities took careful steps to avoid the issue of entrapment. "The Justice Department is very aware of this issue," he said.

Certainly the affidavit against Ferdaus paints a compelling picture of a man hellbent on waging jihad in America and eager to take the guns and explosives eventually supplied to him by the undercover FBI agents. He repeatedly states in recorded conversations that he is happy for Americans to die and that the idea for the attack was his own. "That's excellent," Ferdaus said when told one of his phone detonators had been used overseas and had killed Americans.

The prosecution case also reveals how Ferdaus ordered the plane and rented a storage facility in which to keep it and then took delivery from the FBI agents of 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, three grenades and six AK-47 rifles. It also shows Ferdaus explaining how he had become convinced that he needed to attack America after viewing jihadist websites online. "I just can't stop; there is no other choice for me," he said of his decision to launch the attacks.

Prosecutors have staunchly defended the FBI operation. "Our top priority is to protect our nation from terrorism and national security threats," said US attorney Carmen Ortiz.

FBI officials have also said the investigation was carried out responsibly and to head off a real threat. "We have an obligation to take action to protect the public whenever an individual expresses a desire to commit violence. A committed individual, even one with no direct connections to, or formal training from, an international terrorist organization, can pose a serious danger to the community," said Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Boston Division.

BULL!!! This is nothing but cold, calculated, deliberate entrapment. And as was done in the Newburgh 4 case (and a number of other cases around the country involving young Muslim males) the feds - operating through a despicable "cooperating witness" with a criminal record, and two undercover agents posing as terrorists (agents-provocateurs all) - saw the existence of mental illness as an opportunity they just couldn't pass up!

How long are Muslim "leaders" and "major Muslim organizations" in the U.S. going to continue to willfully cooperate with government agencies that are determined to continue mistreating the Muslim community in this horrendous manner? We had better start taking a more principled stand on these challenging issues before it's too late!

The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) reportedly said:

"By The One in Who's Hand rests my soul, you must surely enjoin the good and forbid the evil; otherwise it is expected that ALLAH will send a punishment against you, and you will supplicate Him, but your supplications will not be answered."

The following report, from the dedicated website for Rezwan Ferdaus, confirmed a feeling that I had about the young brother the first time we met in Worcester. I sensed that he (while highly intelligent) might be a little emotionally or psychologically unstable. I pray that something can be done to insure that this vulnerability will not be used as an additional unconstitutional punishment in the months and years ahead. May ALLAH protect him. - MS


Rezwan Ferdaus was under Psychiatric care at the time of his arrest.

His mental illness was obviously visible to his family and friends since late 2009. The FBI knew about his mental issues at least since October 21st of 2010, when they came to his house to ask questions about another person who went to a gun shop, and still went ahead with targeting him knowing that he is an easy prey.

FBI sent 'gangster' and 'heroin addict' informant, whom they called Collaborating Witness (CW), to the Worcester Islamic Center (WIC) Mosque to entrap Rezwan. The informant, a non-Muslim, hanged out in the mosque pretending to be a Muslim, and identified himself as Khalil from Connecticut of Egyptian descent. The informant's record as established in court and reported by the Boston News Station WBUR on November 8th, 2011, is: "two convictions for selling drugs, unlawful restraint, a robbery conviction whose eight-year sentence he cut down to three by cooperating as a government witness elsewhere."

Every Friday since middle of 2008, Rezwan went to WIC Mosque along with his father for Friday 'Jummah' Prayer and this is where at the end of 2010, the FBI orchestrated and facilitated a plan to entrap Rezwan.

Rezwan Ferdaus Guilty Plea Expected In Pentagon Remote-Control Plane Bomb Plot
BOSTON — A Massachusetts man charged with plotting to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol will plead guilty to two charges, his lawyers and prosecutors said in a plea agreement filed in federal court Tuesday....

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/ rezwan-ferdaus-guilty-pentagon_n_1662058.html

Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland sentenced to 17 years in terror plot
A 26-year-old Ashland man was sentenced Thursday morning in federal court to 17 years in prison for planning to crash explosives-laden model airplanes into the Pentagon and US Capitol and rigging cellphones to detonate improvised explosive devices to kill American troops.

Rezwan Ferdaus, who grew up in Massachusetts and has a physics degree from Northeastern University, began planning a holy war against the United States in 2010 after becoming convinced by seeing jihadi websites and videos that America is evil. He later approached a federal informant and met with undercover agents to discuss a plot.


http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/11/01/ rezwan-ferdaus-ashland-sentenced-years-terror-plot/w 913z70koLzVIkJutm2xDK/story.html?s_campaign=sm_tw




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