Foreign Policy's Passport blog asks a good question after this week's arrest of yet another hapless jihobbyist: how many more times can the FBI get would-be terrorists to fall for this?
We may well have an inexhaustible supply of domestic and imported Islamists who are willing, but not quite able all by themselves, to bomb our government buildings, metro stations, and public gathering places. But will they keep relying upon helpful strangers who offer to equip them with inert explosives and non-functional firearms?
I think they will, indeed, keep falling for the FBI's act. First of all, it is a plain statistical fact that fifty percent of every group will be below average. (Try to find an exception to that rule.) And, in the cases we've seen so far, the FBI's stingees seem to have come from somewhere on the left-hand side of the I.Q. curve. But I wonder if it's the best use of USG resources to play out these undercover comedies for months or years before arresting, or even just deporting, the dim bulbs.
A would-be suicide bomber was arrested on Capitol Hill today after accepting what he thought was an explosive vest from undercover agents.
-- snip --
Roll Call notes that the story is similar to that of Rezwan Ferdaus, who was arrested last September in the midst of a plot to attack the Capitol with a remote-controlled aircraft. Ferdaus was also in communication with FBI agents posing as al Qaeda members.
The case is also similar to that Farooque Ahmed, who thought he was going to blow up the DC Metro system in 2010, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who thought he was going to blow up a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland Oregon in 2010, David Williams, who thought he was going to blow up a Bronx synagogue in 2009, and the "Fort Dix Five," who thought they were going to attack a New Jersey military base in 2006.
In each case, undercover FBI agents spent months communicating and providing fake resources to the suspects before springing the trap. (This isn't even addressing the numerous sting operations run by the NYPD without the FBI's help, described by Louis Klarevas in his piece, "The Idiot Jihadist Next Door.")
The increasing frequency of these operations is bound to raise some questions about whether law enforcement agencies are pushing along the development of plots that the individuals involved might never have acted on without the longterm encouragement of their "al Qaeda contacts."
The other question is just how many times the FBI can get would-be terrorists to fall for this.
Read the entire Passport post here:
In this week's case, the martyr manqué was a Moroccan who entered the U.S. on a short-term tourist visa in 1999 and never left. Evidently, he is touring still. According to the criminal complaint, he came to the FBI's attention one year ago, at which point he was living in a rented room on a dead-end street in Arlington, Virginia, and probably couldn't have afforded a good meal of kabobs and rice.
It must have become clear to the FBI after just a few weeks that this sad-sack shahid had no intelligence value. If he could have come up with any genuine al Qaeda contacts, he wouldn't have needed to be spoon-fed every part of his planning, targeting, and weapons by his FBI handlers.
As a taxpayer, I say let's stop toying around forever with these guys. Charge them with conspiracy, or crossing a state line with intent to commit mopery, or any of a thousand other potential offenses, and be done with them. The FBI must have better things to do with its time and manpower.