FBI deceit in constructing a case for an Iranian terror plot should come as no surprise, given its record of domestic terrorism prosecutions based on sting operations involving entrapment and skullduggery. Central to these stings has been the creation of fictional terrorist plots by the FBI itself. In 2006 the “Gonzales Guidelines” for the use of FBI informants removed previous prohibitions on actions to “initiate a plan or strategy to commit a federal, state or local offense.”12
Perhaps the most notorious of all these domestic terrorism sting operations is the case in which Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, leaders of their Albany, New York mosque, were sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for allegedly laundering profits from the sale of a shoulder-launched missile for a Pakistani militant group that was planning to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat in New York City.
In fact, there was no such terrorist plot, and the alleged crime was the result of an elaborate FBI scam directed against two innocent men.13 It began when an FBI informant pretending to be a Pakistani businessman insinuated himself into Hossain’s life and extended him a $50,000 loan for his pizza parlor. Only months after the informant had begun loaning the money did he show Hossain a shoulder-launched missile, and suggest that he was also selling arms to his “Muslim brothers.” It was a devious form of entrapment; the prosecutors later argued that Hossain should have known the loan could have come from money made in the sale of weapons to terrorists and was therefore guilty of money laundering.
The FBI approach to entrapping Hossain’s friend Aref was even more underhanded. Aref was never even made aware of the missile or the phony story of the illegal arms sale. But on one occasion, when he was present to witness the transfer of loan money, what was later said to have been the missile’s trigger system was left on a table in the room. Prosecutors then argued the theory that Aref had seen the trigger, which looks much like a staple gun, and thus had become part of a conspiracy to “assist in money laundering.”
Many other domestic terrorism cases have involved deceptive tactics and economic inducements deployed by the FBI to involve American Muslims in fictional terrorist plots. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University’s Law School found more than 20 terrorism cases that involved some combination of “paid informants, selection of investigation based on perceived religious identity, [and] a plot that was created by the government.”14 This history makes it clear that the Justice Department and FBI are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to fabricate terrorism cases against targeted individuals, and that misrepresenting these individuals’ intentions and actual behavior has long been standard practice. The trickery and deceit in past “counter-terrorism” sting operations provides further reason to question the veracity of the Obama administration’s allegations in the bizarre case of Manssor Arbabsiar.