Liars for Hire: The Alchemy of Provocation

Posted: September 28th, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

by William N. Grigg

For reasons the FBI has yet to disclose, in 2009 the Bureau became interested in a young man named Sami Samir Hassoun, who had immigrated to the United States from Lebanon.

Although his family came from a Shia-dominated region of that country, Hassoun was never particularly religious. He was, according to friends, exceptionally intelligent (he attended an elite school, studied medicine briefly, and is fluent in English and French as well as Arabic) and given to boasting.

Chicago restaurant owner Joseph Abrahamrecalls that Hassoun “wanted to make fast money” and lusted after personal fame. He succeeded in becoming a global celebrity of sorts on September 19 when he  was arrested by a throng of FBI agents and Chicago cops after he deposited what he thought was a powerful bomboutside a bar near Wrigley Field.

The device had been manufactured at an FBI counter-terrorism lab in Quantico, Virginia, and supplied to Hassoun by two undercover FBI agents posing as terrorism financiers. The agents paid the young man $2,700 to quit his day job — and promised him a great deal more — to work full-time brainstorming various terrorist plots against targets in Chicago.

“My client didn’t bring anything of his own making to the incident,” maintains Hassoun’s defense attorney Myron Auerbach. “Things were given to him.” Hassoun, according to his friend Joseph Abraham (who knew him as a delivery man for a nearby bakery), had a fertile imagination, a gift for self-dramatization, and occasional difficulty in telling the unadorned truth. All of those traits appear to have worked in unfortunate synergy to get the young man into trouble. There is little in Hassoun’s background to suggest a future career in terrorism, absent the FBI’s intervention. Why did the FBI approach him in the first place?

Hassoun had no criminal record or background in violent or radical groups. According to FBI Special Agent Samuel Hartman, who swore out the criminal complaint against Hassoun, the decision to pair him up with an undercover provocateur was based on “information relating to Hassoun that is unrelated to this matter.” This suggests, at least to hardened cynics like myself, that the Bureau was trolling for patsies and learned something about Hassoun that they considered an exploitable vulnerability.

Although he was never particularly religious, Hassoun’s family came from a Shia-dominated region of Lebanon. Seeking to escape the political violence afflicting their home country, Hassoun’s family migrated to the Ivory Coast, only to return after that country experienced one of its frequent military coups before eventually immigrating to the U.S.
Perhaps the FBI’s talent scouts learned of Hassoun’s background and believed it would make him receptive to the Bureau’s standard terrorist recruitment pitch, which lures Muslims into “sting” operations by playing on their understandable resentment toward Washington’s foreign policy.
After Hassoun had been prepped by the FBI’s paid provocateur, he was approached by two undercover agents (identified in the complaint as “UC-1” and “UC-2”). According to the FBI affidavit, “UC-2 state[d] his purported purpose: `want[ing] to change how our country [i.e., the United States] treats our people back home.’ In response, Hassoun stated that he was differently motivated: `Mine is a kind of different concept than this.’ Hassoun explained he saw attacking Chicago as a means of creating chaos to gain political control of the city and its sources of revenue.”
For about a year, the FBI team of alchemist provocateurs worked to transmute the impulsive musings of an immature college-age man into a “terrorist plot.” At first, he didn’t give them much to work with.
Hassoun’s original ideas, reports footnote 15 on page 10 of the FBI’s affidavit, included the use of a “device that appeared as a toy that when activated would cause a minor explosion that would not cause injury, but would expel tiny notes containing ominous warnings.” He also suggested that he and his supposed friends “could design a bomb that would not explode, but be deployed in a manner that it would appear that it was discovered prior to a planned detonation.”
While spit-balling proposed “plots” with the FBI’s undercover provocateur, Hassoun repeatedly emphasized his opposition to bloodshed: “No killing. There is no killing.” His insistence on avoiding lethal violence extended beyond “civilians” to include the police, as well: “When you hit the police, you don’t kill the police.” He was willing to “harm” the police — most likely through humiliation, rather than actual violence — as a way of discrediting them, but he appears to have been resolutely opposed to actual violence. Until, that is, the undercover Feds showed up and started gently guiding him in a more militant direction.
Hassoun’s arrest triggered the predictable headlines and commentary describing yet another daring interdiction of a Jihadist plot by the Homeland’s valiant defenders, oh may they be praised forever. In fact, the criminal complaint specifies (for the most part in footnotes) that Hassoun was not motivated by Islam or any other religion.
The document also indicates that he wasn’t interested in killing or harming anybody until long afterhe fell under the influence of the FBI’s little troupe of Homeland Security Theater players. Rather than advancing the “Islamist agenda,” Hassoun allegedly suggested that Muslims could make useful scapegoats.

“Although Hassoun was clear that he was not motivated to attack Chicago based on any religious ideology, he nevertheless suggested that once attacks had taken place, the participants distance themselves from their actions by sending an attribution video to the media claiming responsibility for the violence in the name of a fictitious extremist organization,” claims footnote 22 on page 15 of the complaint.  “Call it, `the jihad in U.S.’ Just make something up,” Hassoun is quoted as suggesting. “You know? Just make it up so, like, when you put it, all the heat is transferred to them. You know? There’s noheat in the street.’”

This is to say that Hassoun supposedly proposed a “false-flag operation.” Where onearth would he get an idea of that kind? Here’s a thought: Might he have learned something about this tactic from the friendly people at the FBI, who are masters of the art of manufacturing phony terrorist plots?

In this connection it’s interesting to note that Shahed Hussain, the Pakistani-born FBI provocateur who confected the so-called “Newburgh 4? bombing plot in New York,recently admitted under oath that the FBI sent him to a terrorist training camp in his home country in December 2009. This happened while he was playing the role of a wealthy terrorist recruiter in the employ of the Pakistani group Jaish-e-Mohammed as part of a “sting” targeting four marginalized, desperate losers.

Provocateur-Prevaricator Hussain on the stand.

On the witness stand, Hussain — who, in addition to being a veteran con artist, appears to be the scion of a wealthy Pakistani family that knew Benazir Bhutto — has been repeatedly rebuked by Judge Colleen McMahon (who has actually referred to the trial as an “un-terrorism case”).  When finally cornered by the attorneys representing those targeted in his sting, Hussain’s answers did nothing to help the prosecution’s case.

“Everything coming out of your mouth was a lie for that 11-month period when you were meeting with these men, right?” asked defense attorney Vincent Bricetti.

“Yes” Hussain answered.

When working as a paid FBI informant, “it’s helpful to be a really good liar, isn’t it?” Bricetti continued, eliciting a grudging affirmative response from the witness.

“I love to work for the FBI,” Hussain explained. “I enjoy the work I do, that’s why I do it.”

As the jury chokes on Hussain’s malodorous testimony, the prosecution has been reduced to abject whining. “The government is entitled to a fair trial,” simpered Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Halperin, who considers it entirely unfair that the defense is permitted to challenge the credibility of the FBI’s hired liar.

It’s entirely likely that a purulent personality of that kind is at the center of the most recent terror charade in Chicago. If so, it would be fascinating to see what would ooze out of him under cross-examination during Hassoun’s trial.

As cases of this kind accumulate, it’s becoming incontestably clear that  “Jihad Central” isn’t found in Riyadh, Tehran, or — as some earnest but misled people insist — Moscow. It’s in Virginia — specifically, Langley and Quantico.

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