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Must-Read: Targeted and Entrapped Report on Manufacturing Terrorist Threats

I strongly suggest you read “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States,” a new report from the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University School of Law. The report documents three instances in which government agents approached individuals with no prior involvement in terrorist activities, spent significant periods of time encouraging those individuals to take up arms, devised plans for attacks and presented them whole-hog to these cultivated individuals — and then arrested them for conspiracy to commit terrorism:

As with other cases around the country, the three cases outlined in this Report all involved the use of informants where there was no previous evidence to suggest that the defendants were planning to commit violent acts before the FBI or NYPD intervened. The government’s informants not only held themselves out as Muslims, but also focused their attempts at incitement on Muslims. The government’s informants introduced and aggressively pushed ideas about violent jihad and even encouraged the defendants to believe that it was their duty to take action against the United States. In two of the three cases, the government relied on the defendants’ vulnerabilities—poverty and youth, for example—in its inducement methods. In all three cases the government selected or encouraged the proposed locations that the defendants would later be accused of targeting. Likewise, in all three cases, the government provided the defendants with—or encouraged the defendants to acquire—material evidence, such as weaponry or violent videos, which
would later be used to convict them.

The government played a significant role in instigating and devising the three plots featured in this Report—plots the government then “foiled” and charged the defendants with. Despite this fact, the defendants in these cases were all convicted and are facing prison sentences of 25 years to life. These and similar prosecutions that rely on the abusive use of informants have been central to substantiating the government’s claim that, as a country, we face a “homegrown threat” of terrorism.

These cases are important as a matter of justice — I don’t know of anyone who thinks that going along with a pre-packaged terrorist plot is either moral or smart, but should a person be facing 25 years in federal prison after they’ve been led by the nose, prompted and handed ready-made plans for a terrorist act that will never be carried out? The cases are perhaps more important because they lead us to look askance at solemn televised announcements of “foiled terrorist plots.” In order for anti-terrorist organs of government to continue to receive their increased funding, they have to justify themselves. The hard way to do that is to look for, find and stop real terrorist threats when they may not actually exist. The easy way for anti-terrorist organs of government to justify their gigantic budgets is to manufacture and orchestrate terrorist plots all for the sake of foiling them in the end, playing the role of “hero,” and demanding more money to do the same all over again.

The Random House Dictionary defines “terrorism” as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” If our government is manufacturing threats for political purposes, what does that make it?

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