In April 2015, 20-year-old John T. Booker Jr. was arrested after he attempted to build a bomb made with inert materials provided by the FBI. Booker, also known as Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, believed he was building a 1,000-pound car bomb to attack Fort Riley, Kansas.
Booker was unaware that the bomb was fake and the two men he believed were working with Daesh (ISIS) were actually FBI informants. Booker recently plead guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion and now faces 30 years in prison.
“If this defendant had succeeded, American soldiers would have died,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement. “The investigators and the attorneys who worked on this case were our line of defense against terrorism. They kept us safe.”
However, an examination of Booker’s case reveals the usual patterns we see in terror cases involving the FBI. Booker was part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at his high school before being recruited by the U.S. Army in February 2014. Shortly after the FBI received a complaint that Booker had posted on Facebook about his intention to commit a jihadist suicide mission.
When the FBI called Booker in for an interview he admitted to enlisting the Army with plans to commit an attack against American soldiers similar to the attack committed by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, Texas. Booker claimed he was not going to kill “privates” but rather someone with power and status. So what did the FBI do with this information? They denied him entry to the military and let him go.
Rather than taking Booker into a hospital where he might get treatment for his violent fantasies the FBI began monitoring him, and in October 2014 sent in a FBI informant known as Confidential Human Source (CHS 1). Booker told CHS 1 he wanted to fight for Daesh and help bring the war home to America. CHS 1 introduced Booker to CHS 2 who he believed was a recruiter for Daesh. Booker claimed he was inspired by the man known as Jihadi Joe and wanted to carry out a suicide bomber mission using a truck bomb.
For several months CHS 1 and 2 worked with Booker in planning out this fake bombing. They drove him to nearby military airfields and bases to help him film propaganda videos where he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the purported leader of Daesh. In March 2015, CHS 1 told Booker he had been selected for a suicide mission. CHS 1 helped Booker acquire all the components he would need to make an improvised explosive device (IED).
On April 8, 2015, the components were moved to a second storage unit where CHS 2 was waiting. Booker circled potential targets on a map of Fort Riley and filmed another propaganda video in front of the materials that he believed were explosive. On April 10, 2015, Booker met with CHS 1 and 2 in a van that supposedly contained the IED. After driving to a gate that he believed would allow him to enter the base undetected, Booker was arrested while connecting the final pieces of the fake bomb.
One has to ask if Booker would have ever had the means to play terrorist and live out his deranged fantasies without the help of the FBI. We also must ask what would have happened if the FBI had intervened in the interest of Booker’s mental health rather than pursuing another conviction? Unfortunately, what ever really happened between Booker and the informants will likely never be made public due to the agreements of the plea deal.
According to court documents,
The defendant waives all rights, whether asserted directly or by a representative, to request or receive from any department or agency of the United States any records pertaining to the investigation or prosecution of this case, including, without limitation, any records that may be sought under the Freedom of Information Act.
Despite the secrecy, in recent years the FBI has caught much flak for their role in entrapment and the outright creation of so-called terrorists. A 2011 report by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkley has shown that the FBI infiltrates communities where they suspect individuals who are “terrorist minded” to be engaging with others. In this program, the agents are sent into communities to converse and find suspects that could possibly carry out “lone wolf” attacks. The agents then set about encouraging them to plan an attack.
The FBI will provide the funds, the weapons, the supposed connections and the plan, only later to arrest the suspects they strung along and call them terrorists. The report also states that of the over 500 terrorism-related cases, almost half involved the use of informants. Many of these worked for the FBI in exchange for money or to escape their own criminal charges.
The actions of the FBI have even prompted The New York Times to comment on the topic. In an article entitled, “Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.“, Writer David Shipler asked:
This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.
One of the most well-known cases of FBI entrapment involves the former Texas-based activist and current FBI informant as well as Brandon Darby, an editor at Breitbart Texas. Darby’s story has been covered extensively in articles and in two documentaries, Informant and Better This World, which detail his role helping the FBI arrest young activists David McKay and Bradley Crowder during the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.
Darby was a prominent activist around the Austin community and helped in the early days of the Common Ground Collective’s relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Exact details as to when Darby became an informant for the FBI are murky, but we know that by early 2007 he had begun providing the bureau with details on possible acts of violence.
McKay and Crowder were both from the west Texas oil town of Midland and had no protest experience prior to the 2008 Republican National Convention. Upon meeting Darby at a planning meeting for the RNC, the pair said they were encouraged to do more than sit and talk – particularly as Darby told them he wanted to “shut the fucker down.” A plan developed to create makeshift shields for use during the protests. However, upon arrival in St. Paul, Minn., the group’s trailer was raided and the shields taken by police. Shortly after, McKay and Crowder decided to buy supplies to make Molotov cocktails.
But the next morning the pair decided against using the Molotovs and left them behind, stored in a basement. Darby and McKay reportedly discussed throwing the firebombs in a police parking lot, but McKay decided against, texting Darby, “I’m just not feeling the vibe on the street,” and instead he went to bed. After Darby repeatedly texted the sleeping McKay, police raided his room and arrested him at 5 a.m., only hours before he was scheduled to fly home.
“The reality is, when we woke up the next day, neither one of us wanted to use them,” Crowder told Mother Jones. Crowder and McKay were both eventually convicted for making Molotov cocktails, and received two-year and four-year jail terms, respectively. (Both men have served their time and been released.) As word of their arrests began to spread, so did suspicion that Darby was an informant. Only a small group of people were aware of the Molotov plan, and Darby became a prime suspect. Two months later, Darby admitted his involvement with the feds. “The simple truth,” he wrote on Indymedia.org, “is that I have chosen to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Darby has since gone on to become a celebrated hero to some and a traitor to many more. His case, however, isn’t the first time the FBI has used an informant within activist groups to make arrests.
We also have the case of the Cleveland 5. In October 2011, the FBI sent an unnamed informant, known as a confidential human source, or CHS, to infiltrate Occupy Cleveland in hopes of finding potential “terrorists.” The FBI sent in a career criminal convicted of at least six charges, including robbery, to investigate the Occupy group and “potential criminal activity and threats involving anarchists who would be attending.” The CHS found five men with anti-government sentiments and began encouraging them to consider various acts of terrorism.
Under the encouragement of the CHS the group plotted to blow up a bridge in Ohio on April 30, 2012. The CHS reportedly took the men from discussing knocking down bank signs to discussing buying C4 explosives, promising them fake license plates and alibis to soothe their fears of being arrested and sent to Guantanamo. The CHS repeatedly pressed the men to consider buying the explosives in the weeks leading up to the arrest. One of the 5, Connor Stevens, was actually recorded rejecting violent tactics, saying, “It’s actually harder to be non-violent than it is to do stuff like that.”
Eventually, though, the group was persuaded to buy explosives and upon attempting to make use of the dummy explosives, which had been provided by another FBI informant, they were arrested. The men received sentences ranging from six to 11 years.
What are your thoughts? Is the U.S. government “creating” terrorists to justify the continuation of the War on Terror?
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