Four men are on trial in New York for attempting to bomb Bronx synagogues and shoot down military aircraft. Successful counter-terrorism sting? The prosecutors say so. But what the funding says is that now that they have been targeted, the synagogues are permanent targets. The FBI placed crosshairs on them.
For our intellectually challenged wingnut readers, these four “Muslim conspirators” constitute social jetsam. Any hope of their redemption has now faded to naught. This isn’t about them, though what they were before we made them terrorists is instructive. The unintended consequences of this kind of (anti and) counter-terrorism strategy cannot be justified except to legitimize the effort itself by showing “results.”
FBI informant Shahed Hussain apparently approached James Cromitie, Onta Williams, David Williams and Laguerre Payen after he heard them discussing their hatred of Jews and a desire to hurt Americans. Hussain, known to the group as “Maqsood,” provided the would-be bombers with non-working explosives and stinger missiles, after telling them he was a member of a Pakistani terrorist organization and offering to fund their efforts and supply the materials. He also told them that he would like to hit other targets, like the George Washington Bridge, a large military transport plane, or a synagogue. Until he met them, they were just violent losers. He, on the payroll of the FBI, crafted their terror cell and a terrorist threat.
A threat analysis is based upon these six factors:
- Factor 1, Existence: A terrorist group is present, assessed to be present, or able to gain access to a given locale.
- Factor 2, Capability: The acquired, assessed, or demonstrated level of capability to conduct terrorist attacks.
- Factor 3, Intentions: Recent demonstrated anti-US terrorist activity, or stated and/or assessed intent to conduct such activity.
- Factor 4, History: Demonstrated terrorist activity over time.
- Factor 5, Targeting: Current credible information on activity indicative of preparations for specific terrorist operations and/or specific intelligence which shows that an attack is imminent.
- Factor 6, Security Environment: The internal political and security considerations that impact on the capability of terrorist elements to carryout their operations.
– Joint Publication 3-07.2
This is United States doctrine. Not hard to interpret, so I won’t belabor the discussion. The day Maqsood initiated the bombing plot, the threat to the synagogues from this motley crew was at best, negligible and likely null. It was never higher because there was never a capability. (Although a story about David Williams’ purchase of a weapon from a “supreme Blood gang leader” in Brooklyn in the company of Maqsood does show that they were domestic threats.) So in the end, while al Qaida is having its way in the nation we “liberated” and Osama is still on the loose, we are supposed to be impressed by the prosecution of a “terror cell” made in America.
You have to wonder if these two synagogues were genuinely threatened before the FBI became involved. The Department of Homeland Security last month allocated more than $5.8 million in federal funding for security cameras, barricades and emergency release doors for some 80 locations of high-risk groups. The two synagogues targeted by the would-be terrorists – the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center – are on the list, even though it has been over a year since the attempted “attacks.” But the failed attack has profiled the two and they probably really need protection now. However, sometimes a public announcement such as this is counterproductive.
“Extraordinary security measures, unless part of a deliberate deception during critical or high-threat situations, draw attention and detract from mission accomplishment.”
– Joint Publication 3-07.2
This counter-terrorism tactic has yielded many of the few success stories the FBI can claim. There have been potential terrorists nabbed. But this sort of contrivance didn’t generate those arrests. In fact it appears that the sources that led to the legitimate terrorists were not organic to the FBI; sad state of affairs. But the bottom line is that there is reason to believe what we are doing is more than counter-productive; it is a threat to those who are being “defended.”