How the FBI Uses Rapists and Child Molesters to Entrap Gullible People in Terror Stings
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The following is an excerpt from The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism by Trevor Aaronson (Ig Publishing, 2013).
The FBI’s search for would-be terrorists is so all-consuming that agents are willing to partner with the most heinous of criminals if they appear able to deliver targets. That’s what happened in Seattle, Washington, in the summer of 2011, when agents chose to put on the government payroll a convicted rapist and child molester.
The investigation began on June 3, 2011, when a man contacted the Seattle Police Department and told them that he had a friend named Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif who was interested in attacking Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Washington. The tipster told police that Abdul-Latif had already recruited an associate, a man named Walli Mujahidh. Seattle police referred the caller to the FBI, whose agents quickly enlisted him as an informant and launched a full investigation of Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh.
Based on these initial actions, it was clear that the FBI believed it was dealing with two dangerous potential terrorists. But in reality, what it had were two financially troubled men with histories of mental problems. Abdul-Latif, whose birth name was Joseph Anthony Davis, had spent his teenage years huffing gasoline and once told a psychologist he heard voices and saw things that weren’t there. When he was twenty-three, he tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pills intended to treat seizure disorders, later telling a psychologist that he “felt lonely and had no use to live.” His partner in the supposed terrorist plot, thirty-one-year-old Mujahidh, whose name was Frederick Domingue Jr. before his conversion to Islam, had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which causes mood swings and abnormal thoughts. Dorothy Howard, who met Mujahidh through her daughter when they lived in Pomona, California, remembered him as sweet-natured but gullible, someone who was trying hard to get a handle on his mental problems but wasn’t always successful. “Sometimes he would call me and say, ‘Mrs. Howard, I really need my medications. Can you take me to the clinic?’” Howard recalled. “Sometimes they would keep him three or four days.”
The FBI’s informant, whose name was not revealed, was the only source claiming that Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were terrorists on the make. And the informant came with an outrageous story of his own. In addition to being a convicted rapist and child molester, according to government records, he had stolen thousands of dollars from Abdul-Latif in the past and had tried, but failed, to steal Abdul-Latif ’s wife as well. The state of Washington had also classified the informant as a high-risk sex offender, and while working for the FBI, he was caught sending sexual text messages in violation of his parole—something he attempted to hide from agents by trying to delete the messages. Despite what were obvious problems with the investigation from the start, the FBI gave the informant recording equipment and instructed him to move forward with the sting.
As Abdul-Latif and the informant discussed possible targets—after growing concerned that attacking a military base would be too difficult, given the armed guards and fortification—it became clear that the Seattle man had no capacity to carry out a terrorist attack. In fact, Abdul-Latif had little capacity for anything, since he had only $800 to his name, and his only asset was a 1995 Honda Passport with 162,000 miles. In addition, his supposed accomplice, Mujahidh, was still in Southern California. But his friend, the informant, said he could provide everything they would need for the attack, including M13 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and bulletproof vests. That Abdul-Latif didn’t have much money and didn’t know anyone who could provide him with weapons strongly suggested that the plot was nothing more than talk, and would have stayed that way had the FBI not gotten involved.