Inventing Crimes

So evil are terrorists they will stop at nothing to destroy America. One such example of this hatred for our TV-watching, mall-shopping way of life surfaced recently in a plot uncovered by the FBI. A Minnesota man, Ilyas Ali, stands accused of selling a whole lot of hashish and heroin so he might buy Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and sell them to the dreaded al-Qaeda who would, of course, take out 747s packed with kindergarten children and grandmothers. Ali, a naturalized US citizen born in India, and two Pakistanis will be sent to San Diego to face charges. Maybe a layover at Camp X-Ray is in order? Or maybe a side trip to one of those infamous interrogation dungeons in Jordan, Egypt, or Morocco?

Sarcasm aside, Ali says he was set-up by FBI agents. It was a good old-fashioned American ethic that ensnared the hapless Ali — a greedy and unchecked desire for money. After $100,000 was stolen from his St. Paul, Minnesota, grocery store, Ali was befriended by two men he later identified as FBI agents; one claimed to be a drug dealer and the other a weapons specialist. As the drugs-for-weapons plan matured, Ali told an AP reporter from a jail, the FBI agents paid to fly him twice to Pakistan and once to Hong Kong. The agents said they would finance the whole sordid affair. “We just said OK, OK, because we wanted the money,” Ali told Dirk Beveridge of AP. He had no drug connections and claims not to know anybody in al-Qaeda. Moreover, he says there is a tape of his conversation with the FBI agents. “There is absolutely nothing in that tape,” Ali said. “We didn’t mention the Stingers. The only one who mentioned the Stingers was the federal agent.”

The case of Ali and the Pakistanis dovetails nicely with the propaganda of the Bushites (since terrorism and drugs are twin evils threatening the good people of America). John Ashcroft has characterized the case as a reminder “of the toxic combination of drugs and terrorism and the threats they can pose to our national security.” It may eventually turn out to be a “toxic combination” dreamed up by scheming FBI agents and conniving bureaucrats in the Justice Department. Since there seems to be little if any al-Qaeda activity threatening Our Way of Life presently — even though we are warned every few weeks of imminent (and unsubstantiated) attack by tenebrous doers of evil — the FBI may need to “stimulate” threats in lieu of the real McCoy.

The FBI wouldn’t do that, would they?

Sure they would. During the heyday of COINTELPRO, the FBI routinely used entrapment against members of the civil rights and antiwar movements. In a later and much publicized case known as Abscam, the FBI (at the behest of the Justice Department) used agents posing as Arab businessmen to contact various public officials for the purpose of offering bribes in return for political favors. “Before the Abscam sting against members of Congress in 1980,” writes Alan Ehrenhalt, “the idea of inventing crimes and using them to tempt public officials was virtually unheard of in this country.”

If the FBI and Justice Department have no problem using Gestapo-like tactics in orchestrated witch hunts against public officials, what do you think they would do to unknown Indian grocers from Minnesota, especially now with USA PATROIT on the books and the courts rolling over like trained dogs on writs of habeas corpus? The specter of terrorism (especially terrorism created in CIA-funded Afghan camps) gives the FBI and CIA a perfect excuse to return to the good old days of COINTELPRO/Operation CHAOS-like operations.

In fact, with a spooky merging of CIA and FBI operations (increased “cooperation” between the two agencies has resulted in at least one CIA officer at each of the 56 FBI field offices, according to Associated Press reporter John J. Lumpkin), we can likely expect more spurious terror scams, entrapment scenarios, heavy-handed surveillance of political “targets,” and who knows what else (even assassination attempts were permitted, or at least not punished, under COINTELPRO [see Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers, South End Press).

But setting people up is not limited to John Ashcroft’s Justice Department and Robert Mueller’s FBI — the Pentagon wants to get in on the action with something called P2OG, or Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group. P2OG would roll together CIA and military covert ops personnel (a “robust, global cadre of retirees, reservists and others who are trained and qualified to serve on short notice, including expatriates”) who will work to “stimulate reactions” among those deemed terrorists by the Bushites. After setting up so-called terrorists the US military would “counterattack,” i.e., kill them (no messy extradition or legal procedures required; think Kamal Derwish, a US citizen, killed in Yemen by the judge, jury, and executioner of a CIA-launched Hellfire missile for the crime of riding in a car with Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, supposedly the “mastermind” behind the alleged al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole).

If you think P2OG would be confined to faraway lands where terrorists run free, think again — and take note of the above-mentioned integration of the CIA and FBI currently underway across America. If Mossad can off its enemies in America, why not the CIA? If onetime CIA director Bush Senior can give a wink and a nod to Pinochet’s Operation Condor — which resulted in the car bombing murders of Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier and American co-worker Ronni Moffitt — why not carte blanche for the all-American P2OG from Maine to California?

Consider Operation CHAOS, the illegal snooping by the CIA on law-abiding American citizens in the late 60s (in direct violation of their charter). As Verne Lyon writes, “[i]n the classified document creating the DOD [or the Domestic Operations Division, a super-secret branch of the CIA] the scope of its activities was to ‘exercise centralized responsibility for the direction, support, and coordination of clandestine operational activities within the United States,'” activities kept secret from Congress and the hoodwinked American people. In other words, we have no clear idea of the full extent of Operation CHAOS covert ops (if these were anything like CIA ops elsewhere, people not only lost their jobs, but often their lives).

Beyond the shores of America, the CIA financed and encouraged the torture, disappearance, and murder of “socialists and communists” (i.e., people who disagreed with US-supported ruling elites and military dictatorships) in Guatemala, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Bolivia, Chile, and elsewhere. Keep in mind that the current crop of far right wing types in the Bush White House and Pentagon sharpened their teeth on Iran-Contra, a covert op with CIA participation (two CIA agents, Clair George and Duane Clarridge were indicted for lying to Congress in the scandal).

Finally, it pays to remember REX 84, the CIA-inspired plan concocted by the NSC’s Oliver North and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) calling for the suspension of the Constitution under a number of scenarios (such as war) and included the establishment of 50 State Defense Forces, to be composed of members of local law enforcement and military reserve agencies, who would round up and detain political dissenters (for more on REX 84, see Ross Gelbspan, Break-ins, Death Threats, and the FBI, South End Press).

As the expeditious passage of the USA PATRIOT Act (USAPA) demonstrates, the Bush administration is serious about the surveillance of those they consider political enemies. Since not many phantom al-Qaeda terrorists are using the internet (regardless of what “US officials” say about internet cafes in Peshawar) or phones to plot their nefarious deeds, the logical conclusion is the FBI and CIA will use USAPA primarily against American citizens. As with COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS, the idea is to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and neutralize” (as J. Edgar Hoover put it) the opposition with an onslaught of wiretaps, undercover plants, agent provocateurs, poison pen letters, black bag jobs, and other scurrilous tactics.

It’s possible Ilyas Ali planned to sell Stinger missiles to al-Qaeda, but then it is also possible he was set-up by the FBI. In its ambitious plan to expand the US corporate and military imperium across the globe, the Bush administration is determined to show the world that al-Qaeda (and Saddam Hussein, who will be shortly merged with the mythical al-Qaeda into a formidable Hydra) are shadowy, dogged, mercurial, homicidal, and will never stop their pernicious war against the Good and the Brave (that is, so long as there are profitable natural resources available for plunder in “failed states” around the world). Thus the war on terrorism is not only open-ended but interminable.

Will Bush unleash his own version of REX 84 as the much delayed but obviously impending attack against Iraq explodes? War is always a good excuse to go after political enemies, particularly when those enemies are growing in strength (as the incipient antiwar movement, Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay notwithstanding, has shown). As the US plunges into war, think of the Espionage and Sedition Acts (1917), the anti-sedition section of the Smith Act (1940), McCarthy’s inquisitions during the Korean War, and the ravages of COINTELPRO during the Vietnam War. Think of the FBI to wanting to harm Martin Luther King’s public reputation and destroy his political influence. Think of the actress Jean Seberg, so smeared by the FBI she committed suicide. Think of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, shot to death by the Chicago police after the FBI told the cops the pair had numerous guns and explosives and would shoot any police officer who entered their building.

While throwing placard-waving grandmothers in FEMA camps may be the stuff of paranoid fantasies, the very real and threatening potential of increased surveillance and the undermining of popular political movements by FBI-CIA collusion is something almost certain to happen. There will, as well, be more than a spate of politically expedient frame-ups and entrapments on the Bush engineered road to ultimate tyranny.

In the not too distant future, the victims of these dirty tricks will not only be named Ali, but Smith, Robertson, and Adams as well.

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent online gallery. He can be reached at:

We highly recommend regular visits to Nimmo’s website, Another Day in the Empire


KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: