5 Outrageous Examples of FBI Intimidation and Entrapment
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Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, containing the roving wiretaps provision was recently extended by Congress, despite a bipartisan alliance that attempted to challenge the extension of expiring provisions with little to no debate.
4. FBI Entrapment of Muslims
When David Williams’ younger brother, Lord McWilliams, was hospitalized with liver cancer early in 2009, Williams, 24, was devastated. He had spent the last two years, after serving a five-year prison sentence for selling drugs, being a father figure for McWilliams.
Williams knew he had to find a way to make money so his younger brother could get a liver transplant. In April 2009, an acquaintance named James Cromitie told him that someone named Maqsood could give him $250,000, luxury cars and financing for a barbershop if he helped carry out a terrorist attack in the United States. Williams became part of the scheme because Cromitie allegedly had a plan for getting the money without carrying out a terror plot.
Maqsood was a paid informant named Shahed Hussain, who had spent the last eight months working to get Cromitie to plant bombs at a local synagogue. Hussain had done previous work for the FBI and was involved in a controversial case against a pizza-parlor owner and local imam in Albany, New York.
As a report published by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice of the New York University School of Law in May and titled, “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States,” describes, “On May 13, 2009, at the FBI’s direction, Hussain drove Cromitie, David, and two others—Laguerre Payen and Onta Williams (no relation to David)—to the Bronx to conduct surveillance on various synagogues. Next he drove them to Connecticut to look at the Stinger missile they were to use. Unbeknownst to David and the others, the weapons were fake and supplied by the FBI.”
Hussain drove Cromitie, Payen and David and Onta Williams to the Bronx on May 20th. In front of the proposed targets, the FBI placed two cars. The four led by Cromitie were to place explosives in the cars’ trunks. Hussain dropped off David Williams, drove the other three men to the first car and then Hussain turned off a recording device he had been wearing. The men were arrested soon after.
The FBI raided Williams’ younger brother’s home immediately after the arrests. Williams was locked up in White Plains, where people would slip him notes calling him a terrorist. According to David’s aunt Alicia McWilliams, at the jury selection in White Plains, snipers were placed on the roof for “show,” making it seem like Williams’ trial might lead to an attempted terror attack.
McWilliams claims that Williams was “pulled into a political game. The case was directed, produced and scripted by the FBI and all they needed were puppets.”
The CHRGJ report looks at this case and two others to show the “profound toll government policies are taking on Muslim communities and families.” It details how “counterterrorism law-enforcement policies and practices are undermining U.S. human rights obligations to guarantee the rights to nondiscrimination; a fair trial; freedom of religion expression and opinion; as well as the right to an effective remedy when rights violations take place.”
Relaxed FBI guidelines have made it possible to rely on informants like Hussain. Guidelines put into place by former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey allowed the FBI to authorize informants and other surveillance techniques without any factual predicate or nexus to suspected criminal conduct,” which meant the FBI could have informants “gather names, emails, and phone numbers of particularly devout mosque attendees, without any particular nexus to suspected criminal activity.” And, under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, guidelines were established that did not explicitly prohibit using informants to engage in entrapment.