Sunday, August 17, 2014

In New York counterterrorism sting, a setback for federal law enforcement

When Ahmed Abassi arrived in the United States for the first time in March 2013, the Tunisian student settled into a historic, neo-Gothic apartment building in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Unknown to him, the apartment was wired with audio recording devices, and Abassi’s American host was an undercover FBI agent. Abassi, then 26 and suspected of terrorism ties, had landed in an FBI sting, part of an elaborate operation that stretched from New York to Quebec City to a small town in Tunisia.

Abassi was caught on tape discussing “the principle that America should be wiped off the face of the earth,” with people he believed to be co-conspirators, one of whom was the FBI agent, according to court records. At one point, Abassi suggested “putting bacteria in the air or in a water supply.”

But last month, Abassi, who declined to be interviewed, pleaded guilty to relatively minor charges that did not include any terrorism enhancements that could have sent him to prison for years, and he is not contesting a deportation order.

The case was a rare setback for the FBI and federal prosecutors, which have successfully targeted suspected terrorists using sting operations, typically ending with the defendants about to embark on what they believe is a terrorist attack with fake weapons or bombs supplied by the bureau. Guilty verdicts and long prison sentences follow.

More:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-new-york-counterterrorism-sting-a-rare-setback-for-the-fbi/2014/08/14/6179d5b2-0dc2-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bulger files appeal

BOSTON–Convicted gangster James “Whitey” Bulger filed an appeal in federal court Thursday arguing he didn’t get a fair trial because he wasn’t able to claim he was promised immunity from a now-dead prosecutor.

The 84-year-old former crime boss was convicted a year ago on sweeping federal racketeering charges that included involvement in 11 murders. He is serving two consecutive life terms in a high-security federal prison in Arizona.

His seven-week trial gripped Boston while dredging up tales of morbid killings and mob activity stretching back decades. Some of the testimony against Mr. Bulger came from admitted killers who struck deals with prosecutors. The trial also recounted on how Mr. Bulger and his cohorts enjoyed protection from corrupt law-enforcement agents.

But Mr. Bulger, who spent 16 years on the run before his 2011 arrest, refused to testify. Instead, he called his trial a sham because a judge ruled he couldn’t use his immunity defense.

The 200-page appeal, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, argued his decision to not testify was involuntary.

“The court precluded the defendant from raising his immunity arrangements at trial in any form, including but not limited to, cross-examining adverse witnesses, presenting any evidence through his own witnesses, and most importantly, testifying to the agreement himself,” the defense said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, which prosecuted Mr. Bulger, said they are reviewing the filing and will respond through the court.

Source:  http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/08/14/whitey-bulger-files-appeal/

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Whitey Bulger Attorneys to File Appeal Thursday

Attorneys for former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger say they expect to file an appeal of the convictions that sent him to prison for life.

The 84-year-old Bulger was convicted last year in a broad racketeering case, including 11 killings and other gangland crimes in the 1970s and 80s.
 
The appeal is to be filed Thursday with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Bulger's lawyers previously have said he believes he should have been allowed to argue that a now-deceased federal prosecutor gave him immunity.
 
Bulger headed Boston's Irish mob and was an FBI informant against the rival New England Mafia. His case became an embarrassment for the FBI when it was learned corrupt agents accepted bribes and protected him.
 
He was a fugitive for 16 years until his 2011 arrest in California.
 
 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The informants: Manufacturing terror

On the surface, the scene unfolds without any hint of intrigue. A young Muslim convert named Darren Griffin meets fellow congregants at a local mosque in northwest Ohio. In addition to sharing the same faith as his new friends, they enjoy similar interests: watching sports, playing video games, working out at the local gym, and discussing international affairs. Except the scene ends tragically with a string of arrests, a national media frenzy, and self-congratulation among federal officials claiming to have foiled yet another terrorist plot.

The only problem is that Griffin was an FBI plant and the terror plot he supposedly helped thwart was entirely manufactured by the United States government. Purely on the strength of Griffin's aggressive recruitment tactics, three young American Muslims received prison sentences ranging from eight to 20 years.

Similar scenarios have played out in many cities across the US during the past decade. "Informants", the new documentary film from Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit, explores a phenomenon that has been far more pervasive than the media, government officials, or community leaders have acknowledged. In addition to sharing the heart-wrenching stories of the victims of these entrapment tactics, the film is unique because it shines a light on the informants themselves, highlighting the crucial role that they played in actively enlisting young men who never demonstrated any inclinations toward engaging in violence.

More:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/07/informants-manufacturing-terror-20147218131267614.html

COURT: New twist in terror case. FBI's use of confidential informants

An Islamic rights organization has asked for the public’s help in gathering information about a secret FBI informant whose claims led to a homegrown terrorism conspiracy indictment, with trial set to start Tuesday, Aug. 12, in Riverside for two Inland men charged with plotting to meet with the Taliban and al-Qaida and murder Americans overseas.

An attorney for the Greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday the organization “can’t say we won’t” expose the identity of the informant, if it comes across verifiable information.

“It will come down to what is in the best interest of our community,” said Fatima Dadabhoy, senior civil rights attorney for the Los Angeles office of CAIR.

The organization asked for those with information to call its Anaheim office’s civil rights hotline, or call the federal public defender investigator’s office in Riverside.

The federal public defender investigator’s office is not working in cooperation with CAIR, said Jeffrey A. Aaron, the deputy federal public defender who is one of the attorneys representing Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona, whom prosecutors have identified as the leader of the conspiracy.

Dadabhoy said her organization believes the FBI has used confidential informants to entrap people, and that a majority of terrorist plots are fabricated or provoked by the FBI.

More:  http://www.pe.com/articles/informant-698704-kabir-deleon.html

Lawsuit: DEA informant killed Albuquerque man

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man accused of gunning down another man in Albuquerque's South Valley last year was an active U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration informer who was improperly supervised, a new lawsuit alleges.
 
The family of Jason Estrada recently filed a $50 million lawsuit against the agency, the second suit in recent months alleging problems with the DEA's handling of informants, the Albuquerque Journal reports (http://goo.gl/djxdSq).

Edward Quintana, 31, has been charged with killing Estrada. He also is charged with criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13.

He has pleaded not guilty in both cases and is being held on a $600,000 bond.
Albuquerque police said Estrada was killed when he confronted Quintana over the sexual assaults of a child.

The lawsuit claims Quintana previously was debriefed by agents and became a "confidential source" despite his criminal background.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque said the office had no comment on the lawsuit.

The day after Estrada was killed, DEA agents "deactivated" Quintana as an informant, according to the lawsuit.

More:  http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/lawsuit-dea-informant-killed-albuquerque-man

 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

FBI files on iconoclastic musician Pete Seeger to be released online

Thousands of investigative files that the FBI maintained for more than half a century on folk singer Pete Seeger are set to be released to the public online, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has told Al Jazeera.

When Seeger died in January at the age of 94, dozens of journalists, researchers and curious members of the public sought his files from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI has been informing requesters that it turned over all of Seeger’s files to the NARA before his death.

NARA spokeswoman Miriam Kleinman said in an interview that the archive would now seek to publish the files once it completes processing them. They are thought to total about 2,500 pages and need to be screened for information that is exempt from disclosure, as well as names and details that might be redacted to protect the identities of informants or confidential sources.

“As soon as possible, NARA will post this file online,” Kleinman said. “We are waiting for review to be complete.”

The NARA initially decided to release the files only to researchers on request, for a hefty administrative fee of at least $2,000. But Kleinman said public interest in the files prompted a switch in policy.

Seeger, the subject of secret FBI and CIA surveillance dating to the 1940s, was blacklisted during the McCarthy era because of his political beliefs and was indicted for contempt of Congress.

More:  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/27/seeger-files-releasedonline.html