CounterJihad, Aug. 5, 2016:
In Garland, Texas, an outgunned and off-duty traffic cop engaged and killed two jihadi killers wearing body armor and carrying rifles. The killers had come under a vow to the Islamic State (ISIS), there to punish a collection of Americans for the crime of displaying cartoons depicting the alleged prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Under common and longstanding interpretations of sharia, Islam’s understanding of the will of God for human beings, depicting their prophet is a kind of blasphemy that merits death. The Garland event was organized by free speech advocates including Pamela Geller, who wanted to assert that their natural right to free speech was not limited by any religious law.
Now it turns out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may have had eyes on at least one of these killers before the act — and, more than that, may have egged him on.
“U know what happened in Paris,” Simpson responded…
The texts were included in the indictment, released Thursday, of Erick Jamal Hendricks of Charlotte, North Carolina. He was charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. The 35-year-old tried to recruit other Americans to form an ISIS cell on secret compounds and introduced an undercover agent to one of the Draw Muhammad attackers, according to the FBI.
But Hendricks did more than make a connection. According to the court papers, he asked the undercover officer about the Draw Muhammad event’s security, size, and police presence, during the event, according to an affidavit filed in court.
The affidavit does not specify what the undercover responded to questions about size and security.
“If you see that pig [Pamela Geller] make your ‘voice’ heard against her,” Hendricks allegedly told the undercover agent[.]
A number of questions are raised by this indictment. For one, it does seem as if the FBI was right on top of this jihadist plot against American lives — and yet took no steps to actually stop it. Instead, a lone and outgunned police officer found himself face to face with heavily armed assassins. It was his heroic actions that saved the day, but this took place in the context of a substantial risk to his life brought on by the failure of the FBI to move aggressively in spite of evidence of a planning process and stated intent.
Indeed, every major U.S. attack was linked to FBI investigation before it happened, according to Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.
Another question that is raised is what the proper limits are for encouraging violence as an FBI agent. “Tear up Texas” sounds like an incitement, but it is not clear precisely what is being incited. Even leaving aside how blatant incitement to violence has to be to violate limits, there is a question about whether or not there even ought to be limits in FBI sting operations. If it became known that FBI agents could not incite violence, for example, jihadist cells could simply make that a test for potential members. The FBI needs broad leeway, potentially, in order to avoid having their undercover officers exposed.
There are additional concerns about whether entrapment itself is a valid way for investigations to proceed. In Georgia in 2012, for example, the FBI arranged an entrapment sting targeting outlaw motorcycle clubs. The charges would not have even been legal in Georgia itself, where the police are not allowed to charge you for committing a crime that you only committed because a government agent provoked it. However, Federal law allows its agents to entrap people into crimes much more readily than Georgia’s state law. Since the Department of Justice brought Federal charges, the entrapment itself was not problematic for the law. Nevertheless, ultimately courts threw out all the charges on the grounds that the FBI was unreasonably involved in provoking the crimes.
Civil liberties activists, as well as Muslim groups, have raised concerns like this against the use of FBI stings in jihad cases.
[T]he FBI’s program has come under fire from American liberal organizations. According to the New York Times, “defense lawyers, Muslim leaders and civil liberties advocates say that F.B.I. operatives coax suspects into saying and doing things that they might not otherwise do — the essence of entrapment.” The FBI says that it has a thousand open cases into homegrown radicals motivated by a foreign terrorist organization.
In the eyes of the organizations cited by the Times, that’s evidence not that the danger is great but that the FBI is overreaching. Tom Nelson, a Muslim lawyer in Portland, had what they described as a blunt message for fellow Muslims.
“Avoid the F.B.I. like the plague,” he said. “They’re definitely not an ally.”
ISIS investigations are nevertheless best-case arguments for entrapment stings because they are marked by two additional concerns. ISIS propaganda has proven able to radicalize people to violence very quickly. There is not the same time frame as in a true entrapment case, in which the FBI is in control of whether the crime ever occurs or not.
Secondly, once people turn their hearts to jihadist murder, the world is full of targets and opportunities for them to carry it out. As the recent truck attack in Nice, France shows, there is no guarantee that a radicalized agent won’t act even in the absence of access to guns, or bombs, or even things we ordinarily think of as weapons. The most deadly attacks have often been carried out with vehicles, whether the truck in Nice or the airliners on 9/11.
Thus, the FBI’s program is dogged by serious questions, and yet arguably necessary in jihadist cases given these special concerns. Stay tuned to CounterJihad, where later today we will have an analysis piece by a security expert exploring the proper limits.
- North Carolina Muslim Plotted to Kill Members of the Military (frontpagemag.com)
- North Carolina ISIS Recruiter: “We will send all our Lions to achieve [Geller’s] slaughter.” (pamelageller.com)