Sunday, June 19, 2011

Entrapping Innocent Muslims

Entrapping Innocent Muslims - by Stephen Lendman

A recent New York University School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) report is titled, "Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the 'Homegrown Threat' in the United States."

Post-9/11, Muslims have been ruthlessly targeted. Paid informants have infested mosques and their communities to entrap them. As a result, over 200 were persecuted on bogus terrorism related charges. Despite "tout(ing) these cases as successes in the so-called war against terrorism....former (FBI) agents, local lawmakers," and many others "have begun questioning the legitimacy and efficacy" of entrapping innocent victims for political advantage.

CHRGJ discussed several high-profile cases, using well-paid informants often performing services in return for reduced charges or sentences they face, a powerful incentive to cooperate.

Nearly always, Washington invents plots foiled in the nick of time, entrapping innocent victims with no intent to commit crimes. America's media headline them. The public feels safer with no idea they've been scammed or that blameless citizens and residents are falsely charged.

In fact, calling Muslims "potential threats" or "homegrown terrorists" violates core constitutional freedoms. Nonetheless, it's now common law enforcement practice assuming that:

-- Muslims are more likely to become terrorists;

-- they're increasingly "radicalized" and compelled to commit violence in the name of Islam; and

-- counterterrorism policies should identify and stop them before they act.

In fact, research contradicts these notions. Moreover, relying on them violates fundamental human rights long ago discarded for political and judicial expediency. As a result, Muslims most often face terrorism charges because "they hate us" or other spurious reasons.

Muslim men (and "Muslim looking people) are especially vulnerable. In addition, Muslim culture and religious practices are also cited as indicators of potential terrorism. As a result, they're maliciously targeted, surveilled, investigated, entrapped, charged, unjustly prosecuted, and convicted.

Notably, a 2007 NYPD report titled, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat" popularized these beliefs, using "thinly sourced, reductionist" notions, claiming:

"the path to terrorism has a fixed trajectory and that each step of the process has specific, identifiable markers," despite no corroborating evidence. In fact, research suggests the opposite, exposing racist, discriminatory beliefs and practices.

In fact, Washington uses these notions maliciously, targeting innocent Muslims for their faith and ethnicity. Moreover, in February, Senator Joe Lieberman called on the National and Homeland Security Councils to develop "a comprehensive national approach to countering homegrown radicalization to violent Islamist extremism.

In March, Rep. Peter King chaired a racist congressional hearing, duplicitously claiming radicalized Muslims are increasing at an alarming rate, endangering US security. In fact, the only law enforcement witness testifying refuted his accusations.

Most alarming is that Obama's Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, and Justice Department (DOJ) all embrace racist radicalization notions to entrap innocent victims with "preventive" policing nearly always with no evidence of wrongdoing. Instead of pursuing criminals, they target people for their faith, religious practices, and appearance unjustly, using well-paid informant snitches.

Post-9/11, repressive laws were enacted to facilitate the process, "resulting in the criminalization of a range of behaviors (not) indicative of....intent to commit...violent crime(s)." At the same time, law enforcement powers were recklessly expanded in violation of constitutional rights. As a result, abusive practices proliferated against Muslims, making it the wrong time for them to be here, even native born ones .

Using informants to illegally entrap is especially alarming when no legal limits constrain the targeting of one segment of society. Because of earlier COINTELPRO and other abuses, Attorney General Edward Levi (in 1976) established Guidelines "proceed(ing) from the proposition that Government monitoring of individuals or groups because they hold unpopular or controversial views is intolerable in our society."

However, they eroded steadily, notably post-9/11, so today virtually anything goes extralegally on the pretext of national security. In 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey's Guidelines were profoundly lawless, authorizing informants, surveillance, and other abusive practices in cases involving no suspected criminality.

For example, FBI agents may direct informants to collect names, emails, phone numbers, and other information about devout mosque attendees, based only on their religiosity.

Specifically, intrusive "assessments" may be made in situations with no "information or....allegations indicating" wrongdoing or threat to national security. As a result, groups or meetings infiltrated covertly, attendees questioned casually, and physical surveillance of "homes, offices and individuals" conducted extralegally.

The FBI's Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines (DIOGs) are used this way without supervisory approval or constraints on abusive practices. As a result, virtually anything goes, primarily against one segment of society, creating a troubling law enforcement standard common in police states unencumbered by laws.

Moreover, even though the 2003 DOJ Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies bans profiling by race and ethnicity, it implicitly permits doing so for faith and national origin purposes, as well as targeting anyone for national and border security purposes.

The Mukasey Guidelines also permit illegal entrapment and other abusive practices. As a result, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies lawlessly target Muslim communities to identify potential terrorists. In fact, New York city guidelines specifically permit intrusive investigations of "potential terrorist activity before an unlawful act occurs."

Unconstrained informants are used, subject only to Deputy Commissioner of the Intelligence Division directives. As a result, "NYPD has become a leading advocate for law enforcement based on the flawed radicalization model," authorizing illegal acts, including "inducement(s)....to engage in crim(inal)" activity to facilitate entrapment.

FBI guidelines also authorize expansive powers, including targeting individuals or groups for their views or religious practices. Critics include former FBI counterterrorism agent (now ACLU Senior Policy Counsel) Mike German, saying "the FBI (is) out of compliance with its (own) guidelines to an extraordinary extent," by providing few checks on illegal practices, including entrapment.

It occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed. However, it doesn't apply in willing lawlessness instances, government merely aiding, abetting, or facilitating chances to do so.

Specifically, it involves:

-- government officials or agents initiating the idea; then

-- persuading individuals to discuss, plan or commit actions they otherwise never intended.

To convict, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt no entrapment was used. In fact, it's common against innocent people, especially Muslims targeted for political or other reasons.

CHRGJ concluded that "types of evidence relied upon by the government in terrorism-related prosecutions are highly prejudicial, and build on the conflation of Muslim religious practice, political opinions critical of US foreign policy, and (alleged) terrorism. The prejudicial nature of relying on such evidence is magnified" by entrapment, claiming defendants' are predisposed to commit crimes, based on fabricated, secret, or other evidence to prejudice, pressure, and intimidate juries to convict.

Based on empirical research, however, no link exists between religion or political views and a propensity to commit violent acts. Nonetheless, most convictions result from bogusly conflating them as proof of "intent or predisposition."

As a result, victims are usually defenseless against abusive government practices, including through wrongful conviction civil rights lawsuits right-wing courts rule against or disallow, especially in national security related cases involving alleged terrorism or conspiracy to commit it.

CHRGJ covered several case examples, including David Williams, one of "the Newburgh Four (NY)", bogusly charged with plotting to blow up a Bronx synagogue and shoot down military aircraft with Stinger surface-to-air missiles. Using an FBI sting, an informant was lawlessly used to entrap them. Despite no plot or crime, they were arrested, charged and convicted.

Another case involved Eljvir, Dristan and Shain Duka, three of the Fort Dix Five, falsely charged and convicted on multiple counts, including planning to attack US soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ, despite no plot, crime or legitimate evidence. Another entrapment sting operation was used.

A third case involved Shahawar Siraj Matin, also entrapped by a police informant in an alleged subway bombing plot despite no crime or intent to commit one.

Another case involves two Bowling Green, KY Iraqis (Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan) beyond the study's timeline, the Louisville Courier-Journal saying on May 31 they were indicted on terrorism charges.

Specifically, they were charged with "conspiring to kill US soldiers with improvised explosive devices in Iraq," as well as plans to send Stinger missiles, cash, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Iraq.

In fact, the alleged plot is as implausible as attacking Fort Dix, downing military aircraft, attacking marines at Quantico, VA, bombing New York landmarks, and other concocted schemes to entrap and convict innocent victims.

A Final Comment

CHRGJ said "practices described in the Report raise serious concerns about the US government's compliance with its international human rights obligations," including rights to a fair trial, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, religion, and other rights under US and international law.

Federal, state, and local enforcement agencies systematically violate them to target and convict unjustly, sending innocent victims to prison for being Muslims in America at the wrong time, leaving everyone just as vulnerable.

As a result, it's "proved impossible for" victims "to gain redress" at a time imperial priorities take precedence. Its ravages are felt abroad and at home, especially by Muslim families.

Wives lose husbands, children their fathers, and wrongfully convicted Muslim men their freedom, some for decades or the rest of their lives to satisfy America's lust for conquest and domination, no matter the human cost.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.