FBI entraps Bangladeshi student in fake terror plot

By Bill Van Auken
19 October 2012

Federal authorities have arrested a Bangladeshi student in New York City and presented a criminal indictment charging him with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and providing material support to Al Qaeda in a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with a truck bomb.

The case is only the latest in a seemingly endless series of “sting” operations in which hapless individuals are ensnared by FBI provocateurs in supposed “terrorist plots” that are entirely the creation of the federal authorities.

Unveiled with barely two and a half weeks to go until the US presidential election, the case serves a definite political agenda of terrifying the American public with a wholly fabricated threat of terror in order to justify US militarism abroad and the relentless buildup of police-state powers at home.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was ordered held without bail after a brief arraignment in Brooklyn Federal court Wednesday. He had entered the US on a student visa last January to study computer sciences. He is accused of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve building, which is two blocks from Wall Street, with what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb loaded into a van.

In reality, however, the bomb, consisting of 20 50-pound bags of purported explosives, was a fake. It, like a phony detonator and the van used to transport it, were all supplied by undercover agents of New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which combines the resources of the FBI and the New York Police Department.

In announcing the arrest, the FBI assured the public that it “was never at risk,” as the agency had controlled the “entire operation to ensure the safety of … New Yorkers.”

Indeed, the predominant role in the alleged conspiracy appears to have been played by an undercover FBI agent posing as an “Al Qaeda facilitator.” Even the act of delivering the fake bomb to the site of the Federal Reserve building was carried out by the FBI agent, as Nafis does not know how to drive.

While the federal authorities included in their criminal complaint the claim that Nafis “actively sought out al-Qaeda contacts within the United States,” it gives no indication of how he did this and how this led him directly into the waiting arms of the FBI.

What seems far more likely is that agents trolling the Internet and carrying out fishing expeditions within immigrant Muslim communities came across some statement made by the Bangladeshi expressing anger over US policies abroad and decided to frame him up as a terrorist.

In Bangladesh, authorities said that there was no indication that Nafis had any ties to Islamist groups there.

The youth’s father, Quazi Mohammad Ahsanullah, the senior vice president of a bank in Dhaka, denounced the charges against his son as “a racist conspiracy.”

“The intelligence of the USA is playing with a mere boy whom we sent for higher study,” he told Reuters. “The allegation against my son is not true at all. He could not even drive a car. How was he caught with a van?”

“He fell into a trap,” Nafis’ father said.

Just since the inauguration of Barack Obama as president, there have been nearly 50 separate cases in which individuals have been charged with alleged terrorist plots that were organized and led by FBI or other police agency informants/agent provocateurs.

Out of all the high-profile domestic terror cases of the last decade, only three did not originate with FBI sting operations.

Just last month, Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan immigrant, was sentenced to 30 years in prison as the result of a sting operation in which FBI agents provided him with a fake bomb and inoperable gun for a staged terrorist act against the US Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Still awaiting trial in Portland, Oregon is Mohamed Mohamud, who was arrested in November 2010, when he was 19 years old, in a FBI sting operation that was almost identical to the one Nafis is accused of in New York City. He is accused of trying to detonate a fake explosive in a van that was parked at a Portland Christmas tree-lighting event. All of the materials involved originated with the FBI, which had apparently been monitoring the youth since he was 17, before drawing him into the fabricated plot.

Among the most infamous of these sting operations was one mounted in New York in 2009 against four black American Muslims from Newburgh who were jailed for 25 years. The Pakistani-American agent provocateur in that case offered one of the defendants $250,000 to convince him to help place fake bombs outside a synagogue. Another defendant was told his dying brother would receive a liver transplant in return for his participation. In this case, as in the others, none of those entrapped had the financial means, knowledge or even intent to carry out these acts before they were instigated by the FBI.

In the Newburgh case, presiding Judge Colleen McMahon declared, “I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there would have been no crime here except the government instigated it, planned it and brought it to fruition.”

More recently, the government has turned these same methods against elements around Occupy Wall Street and antiwar protests, with undercover agents entrapping five young men in Cleveland described as “anarchists” in a plot to blow up a bridge with fake explosives provided by an FBI undercover agent. In Chicago, five men were arrested during the protests at the NATO summit in May 2012 and framed up on terrorism conspiracy charges by undercover police informants.

On the same day that the “terrorist plot” arrest was announced in Brooklyn and reported breathlessly by the mass media, another terror sting operation came to a far quieter close in Manhattan, where Manssor Arbabsiar, a former Texas used car salesman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in a bizarre government-fabricated plot that supposedly involved the Iranian government in the hiring of a hitman from the Zetas drug cartel in Mexico to carry out the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, DC.

“The audacity of the plot should not cause doubt, but rather vigilance,” US Attorney Preet Bharara declared in relation to the plea deal, effectively acknowledging that the story is wholly unbelievable.

Why Arbabsiar would seek out a member of a drug gang like Zetas (in this case a US agent posing as one) to carry out a high-level political assassination, much less why the Iranian government would entrust such a mission to the ex-used car salesman, whose mental stability became a serious question in the case, has never been explained. Arbabsiar did make clear in his plea bargain that the proposal to kill the ambassador came from the US agent.

All the elements of the case point to a hapless Arbabsiar being entrapped in a drug case and then used by the government in a provocation aimed at providing justification for US aggression against Iran.

The author also recommends:

Washington and Iran: The reckless policy of provocation
[14 October 2011]