nation-builder press, ranked 154 out of 195 by the Freedom
of the Press 2007 Survey, reported that "terror arrived
in the American suburbs." Really? Read another point
of view by Nicole Colson and then go here
to read about the $ingapore "terrorists" who remain
imprisoned without trial for more than five years. No one
has ever heard their story.
nation-builder press, May 20, 2007.
to government officials and the mainstream media, the six New Jersey
men arrested for allegedly plotting an attack on the Fort Dix military
base were well organized and nearly "ready to strike." But
like all of the government's claimed victories in "fighting terrorism,"
there are disturbing holes in the story that should raise questions
about scapegoating and scaremongering.
attorney's office in New Jersey announced May 8 that five men
- Jordanian-born U.S. citizen Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer; Turkish-born
legal U.S. resident Serdar Tatar; and brothers Dritan, Eljvir
and Shain Duka, ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia who
were reportedly in the U.S. illegally - had been charged with
"plotting to kill as many soldiers as possible in an armed assault
at the Fort Dix Army base."
A sixth defendant,
Agron Abdullahu, a legal resident also from the former Yugoslavia,
is charged with illegally holding weapons for the others.
The FBI says
it learned of the supposed plot when the men went to a Circuit
City store and asked a clerk to transfer a jihad training video
of themselves onto a DVD. They were arrested after allegedly attempting
to purchase weapons from an undercover FBI agent.
extent of their supposed
military-style "training" appears
to be trips to a firing range
in the Poconos and playing paintball
in the woods.
to the government, the men had conducted surveillance on Fort
Dix, obtained computerized ballistic simulations and stolen a
map of Fort Dix from a pizza shop located near the base in order
to help plan their attack.
the extent of their supposed military-style "training" appears
to be trips to a firing range in the Poconos and playing paintball
in the woods. According to the Washington Post, the indictment
against the men "indicates that the group had no rigorous military
training and did not appear close to being able to pull off an
do court papers indicate that the suspects themselves were convinced
of their own supposed plan. At one point, for example, they express
doubt at the thought of obtaining automatic weapons - noting that
they are, after all, illegal.
media's reports on the arrests immediately deemed the six as "Muslim
fanatics" and "Jersey jihadists." But some of the men were known
to be not particularly religious. In fact, according to the New
York Times, investigators have quietly admitted that "there is
little indication that they were devout - or even practicing -
most troubling, however, is the FBI's use of two paid "informants"
in the case. One of the informants, according to the Times, "railed
against the United States, helped scout out military installations
for attack, offered to introduce his comrades to an arms dealer
and gave them a list of weapons he could procure, including machine
guns and rocket-propelled grenades."
media's reports on the
arrests immediately deemed
the six as "Muslim fanatics" and
"Jersey jihadists." But some of the
men were known to be
not particularly religious.
In fact, according to the
New York Times, investigators have
quietly admitted that
"there is little indication that
they were devout - or even
practicing - Muslims."
the question: how far would the supposed "plot" have gone had
the FBI not been there to push it forward?
in November, Tatar himself contacted police in Philadelphia, telling
a sergeant he had been approached by a man who "pressured him
to acquire maps of Fort Dix." He even told the sergeant he was
worried that that "the incident was terrorist-related."
claim that Tatar was simply trying to throw off suspicion and
determine if the first informer was a plant. But the fact that
one of the defendants in a supposed terrorist cell actually called
police to report possible terrorist activity raises serious questions
about the truth of the government's claims.
* * *
declarations about terrorism prosecutions are nothing new for
Bush administration. It has announced one high-profile terrorism
case after another, but few have ever been substantiated, and
many more have been riddled with racism, entrapment and abuses.
fall, for example, several men of Middle Eastern descent were
arrested in separate incidents in Ohio and Michigan on terrorism
charges. They had aroused suspicion by buying too many cell phones
- and, in one case, taking pictures of a bridge. Charges were
later quietly dropped, but not until after the government smeared
the men in the media as potential terrorists.
terrorism prosecutions are
nothing new for Bush administration.
It has announced one high-profile
terrorism case after another,
but few have ever been substantiated,
and many more have been riddled
with racism, entrapment and abuses.
pattern has played out in the case of seven men of Haitian descent
arrested in Florida last year on charges that they were plotting
to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower.
charges are still pending, the case against the men rests on little
more than the fact that they allegedly gave an FBI informant lists
of shoe sizes in order to purchase military boots for them. Even
the FBI was forced to admit that the plan was more "aspirational
As a recent
editorial in the Palm Beach Post commented, "[A]nyone heard lately
about the so-called 'Miami 7'? The Justice Department with much
ballyhoo last year claimed the five U.S. citizens, one legal permanent
resident and one Haitian national had conspired with al-Qaeda
'to levy war against the United States'... But Justice may face
an uphill climb to show how the men were anything other than poor,
unsophisticated street vendors and easy dupes when the government's
agent came casting suggestion."
is so-called "dirty-bomber" Jose Padilla, who spent more than
three years in solitary confinement in a military brig as an officially
designated enemy combatant for allegedly plotting to take part
in an al-Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive bomb inside the
Bush administration suddenly announced in November 2005 that federal
criminal charges had been filed against Padilla, the indictment
made no mention of the dirty bomb plot or most of the other original
is clear that the prosecutors
are deciding that a lot
of the investigations being
recommended do not
cut the mustard and do not
meet their standards,"
David Burnham, the co-director
of Transactional Records
Access Clearinghouse, told
the New York Times.
lawyers say he has been so psychologically damaged by the physical
and psychological abuse he suffered at the hands of the government
that he can no longer participate in his own defense.
former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian remains
in prison today despite the fact that a jury acquitted him of
the most serious terrorism charges against him and deadlocked
on several lesser counts.
To end his
imprisonment and be reunited with his family, Al-Arian agreed
to plead guilty to a single count of supporting the nonviolent
activities of a Palestinian charity. Yet his release date has
come and gone, and he remains behind bars - because federal prosecutors
now claim he is a "material witness" to other trumped-up terrorism
prosecutions, and want to force him to testify.
assertions, the truth is that Al-Arian has been prosecuted for
his political beliefs and defense of Palestinian rights - not
for any "terrorism."
* * *
closer look at the government's own records show that the "war
on terror" has yielded few convictions.
last year, a study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
(TRAC) at Syracuse University found that in the first eight months
of 2006, the Justice Department prosecuted 46 international terrorism
cases - but declined to bring charges in 209 cases that the FBI
or other agencies had referred, frequently because of a lack of
is clear that the prosecutors are deciding that a lot of the investigations
being recommended do not cut the mustard and do not meet their
standards," David Burnham, the co-director of TRAC, told the New
average sentence for those
convicted in "international terrorism"
cases was just 20 to 28 days,
and many received no jail time at all...
In other words, the prosecutions
that the government labels
as being about "terrorism" are
almost never actually about terrorism.
all, the study found that in nearly 6,500 cases treated as "terrorism"
investigations by the Justice Department since September 11, only
about one in five defendants have been convicted.
the average sentence for those convicted in "international terrorism"
cases was just 20 to 28 days, and many received no jail time at
all, the study found. The reason: Many of these cases involve
lesser charges like immigration violations or fraud.
other words, the prosecutions that the government labels as being
about "terrorism" are almost never actually about terrorism.
fact, a February audit released by the Justice Department's inspector
general found that the department usually "could not provide support
for the numbers reported or could not identify the terrorism link
used to classify statistics as terrorism-related."
for immigration violations, marriage fraud and drug trafficking
were counted as "terrorism convictions" by the Justice Department.
Such cases included: charges brought against a marriage-broker
for being paid to arrange six fraudulent marriages between Tunisians
and U.S. citizens; the prosecution of a Mexican citizen who falsely
identified himself as another person in a passport application;
and the case of a suspect charged with dealing firearms without
one anonymous former prosecutor recently told Truthout.org's William
Fisher, "U.S. attorneys are well aware of their bosses' priorities.
Since 9/11, all of them have been under pressure to bring terrorism
many cases, that has led them and their superiors, as well as
prominent politicians, to call high-profile press conferences
where they announce terrorism charges against people, but when
they show up in court, there are no actual terrorism charges."
Nicole Colson writes for the Socialist