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DHS says FBI “possibly funded” Terrorist Group

11:40 pm in Terrorism by Jeff Kaye

J. Edgar Hoover

It was most surprising to come across the following entry at the website for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses for Terrorism (known by the acronym START), which is run by the Department of Homeland Security out of the University of Maryland. According to DHS, START is one of their “centers of excellence,” an academic center sponsored by the DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate.

The webpage concerns the “Terrorist Organization Profile” for the Secret Army Organization, a right-wing terrorist group in the early 1970s, a group START writes was “possibly funded by the FBI.”

According to START, “The Secret Army Organization (SAO), a right-wing militant group based in San Diego, was active from 1969 to 1972. They targeted individuals and groups who spoke out against the Vietnam War, especially those who organized public demonstrations and distributed anti-war literature.”

Indeed, if we could turn the clock back to June 1975, we would read an article in the New York Times, “A.C.L.U. Says F.B.I. Funded ‘Army’ to Terrorize Antiwar Protesters.”

According to the Times, the ACLU compiled a 5,000 page report on the SAO, a group of former Minutemen and other right-wingers and violent home-grown fascists, for the benefit of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “alleging the Federal Bureau of Intelligence recruited a band of right-wing terrorists and supplied them with money and weapons to attack young antiwar demonstrators.”

But that’s not all, the SAO engaged in bombing and attempted assassination, and guess whose house the weapons turned up in? But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s let the DHS’s “Center of Excellence” inform us of this important episode in our history, which came, by the way, after the FBI claimed they had stopped their Cointelpro program of disruption of the Left.

Assassination Attempt, FBI Agent Hides the Weapon

From START’s SAO webpage:

The report also stated that the SAO planned to kidnap and murder protestors of the 1972 Republican National Convention, which was to be held in San Diego before being relocated to Miami Beach. An assassination attempt of Dr. Peter Bohmer, professor at San Diego State University, and Paula Tharp, reporter for the San Diego Street Journal, brought about the arrests of several SAO members who later acknowledge an FBI connection. During the investigation, the gun used in the assassination attempt was found in the home of FBI agent Steven Christiansen, who was subsequently identified as a SAO contact. In 1973, Godfrey, testifying as an FBI informant, claimed he received up to $20,000 in weapons and a $250 per month income from the FBI to recruit new SAO members and provide information to agents. He also testified to the criminal acts of several SAO operatives, including fellow leader Jerry Lynn Davis. Official statements from the FBI claimed no involvement with the SAO, and no agents were prosecuted.

The story of the SAO is a forgotten piece of contemporary history that is directly relevant to a number of current issues, including the prosecution of the bogus “war on terror,” and the FBI’s role in it; the debates about government participation in and legalization of assassination of its own citizens; and government surveillance of and attacks upon dissent in this country.

It also could be considered a prime example of the historical amnesia that plagues our times, an amnesia hastened by disinterest by the major media, cheered on by government agencies none too interested in accountability for government overreach or even criminality.

Links to the President

According to the Ann Arbor Sun at the time, the ACLU tagged the SAO as “an interagency apparatus organized ‘at the direction of Richard M. Nixon.’”

Reportedly the link to Nixon came via Watergate burglar White House “plumbers” operative Donald Segretti, who affidavits claimed had given funds and military hardware to SAO to disrupt the 1972 GOP convention in San Diego. (The convention was subsequently moved to Miami Beach.)

But it was the FBI who seems to have been operationally in charge.

From the Sun: “SAO operative Jerry Lynn Davis, who once participated in the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion, revealed that [admitted FBI informant Howard Barry] Godfrey had regularly supplied the SAO with money and weapons on behalf of the FBI.”

A newspaper office was attacked. A car firebombed. Informants infiltrated, while meetings were monitored. There were plans to poison the punch at antiwar meetings. A theater was bombed. Bulletins were published on “how to make booby traps, how to use ammonium nitrate in high explosives,” And then, there was the assassination plot, or rather plots, as the SAO bungled one assassination attempt after another to kill a left-wing professor at San Diego State.

How It Went Down, and the Cover-up

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Did NYPD “Undercover Agent” Try to Suborn Tarek Mehanna into a “Terrorist Plot”?

3:18 pm in Terrorism by Jeff Kaye

Many bloggers and the press have reposted Tarek Mehanna’s impassioned speech to the court as he was sentenced to 17-1/2 years for supposedly providing “material support” to terrorists. (See here, here, here, and especially the ACLU’s Nancy Murray’s widely quoted article at the Boston Globe here.) But few have commented on Mehanna’s charges that he was set up by an undercover agent to participate in a terrorist plot, and that he refused the agent’s overtures.

These are the relevant portions of Mehanna’s statement at his sentencing hearing (bold emphases added):

Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy“ way, as they explained, was that I would become an informant for the government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very hard — and the government spent millions of tax dollars — to put me in that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a cell….

It was made crystal clear at trial that I never, ever plotted to “kill Americans” at shopping malls or whatever the story was. The government’s own witnesses contradicted this claim, and we put expert after expert up on that stand, who spent hours dissecting my every written word, who explained my beliefs. Further, when I was free, the government sent an undercover agent to prod me into one of their little “terror plots,” but I refused to participate. Mysteriously, however, the jury never heard this.

The Telegram and Gazette described the uproar in the courtroom when Mehanna brought up the accusations regarding the undercover agent’s attempt to recruit him into a terrorist plot.

After Mr. Mehanna said the government had sent an undercover agent to prod him into participating in a terror plot — that he refused — Mr. Chakravarty rose to call that “categorically false.” Mr. Mehanna yelled to him that “you’re a liar.”

Two U.S. marshals strode to Mr. Mehanna seated at the defense table in an orange prison jump suit, put a hand on him and spoke to him, but Judge O’Toole did not allow Mr. Chakravarty to continue.

What actually lie behind these accusations, the prosecutor’s interruption, and the Judge’s subsequent actions? (O’Toole later chided Mehanna for “lack of remorse” and “a quality of defiance.”)

The answer can be found in a February 25 posting by Mehanna at the Facebook page, “Free Tarek Mehanna.” While one can easily find online the young man’s stirring defense of himself in his April 12 sentencing statement, his statement about the attempt to frame him as part of a government-inspired terrorist “plot,” has virtually escaped coverage outside of some small blogs concerned with defending Islamic or Palestinian causes and defense (with the one notable exception of Richard Hugus at Boston IndyMedia). Read the rest of this entry →

Sentenced To “Hell”: Use Of SAMs And Informants In The Case Of Syed Fahad Hashmi

11:12 am in Terrorism, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Alcatraz

Alcatraz by ben pollard, on Flickr

Jeanne Theoharis is professor of political science at CUNY’s Brooklyn College, one who takes the responsibility of her profession towards her students, and to the society she lives in, very seriously. When she discovered that one of her former students, Syed Farad Hashmi, was being treated unjustly by the U.S. judicial system, she spoke out, and she continues to do so.

A new article at the Chronicle of Higher Education reviews Hashmi’s ordeal, and links the attacks on civil liberties made after 9/11, especially on Muslims and including those that swept up Hashmi, to earlier periods of modern U.S. history, including the internment of Japanese during World War II, the McCarthy period, and the Cointelpro attacks on Native American, African-American, and other organizations, particularly on the left.

A year ago now, Hashmi was sentenced for fifteen years a year ago when, after suffering three years in extreme solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) approved by the Attorney Generals Mukasey and Holder, he accepted a plea bargain on the single charge of conspriacy to provide “material support” to “a foreign terrorist organization. (Three other charges were dropped.) But lacking any actual links to terrorism, or any history of violence whatsoever, evidence points to governmental animus against Hashmi for his outspoken public criticism of denial of Muslim civil rights and constitutional protections in the post-9/11 period.

Like the Preventive of Injury (POI) orders imposed on alleged Wikileaks leaker PFC Bradley Manning, who is currently in isolation at the Marine Corps Quantico brig, and like Hashmi is essentially a political prisoner, the onerous conditions of detention imposed by the SAMs — which restrict exercise, access to the media, to reading materials or the outside world in general, allow for no privacy, and are intrusive upon the actual body of the prisoner (strip searches, forced nakedness) — are restrictions supposedly made in the name of safety. But just as Manning has showed no proclivity for self-harm, nor has he been violent in jail, Hashmi, who is currently at the Supermax facility in Florence, Colorado, has no history of violence. In fact his entire association with “terrorism” comes from the fact he let a friend stay in his apartment for a few weeks, someone who it turned out had a suitcase full of ponchos, raincoats and waterproof socks supposedly intended for delivery to an Al Qaeda-linked figure. (More on that below.)

In his first months in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, following extradition from England, where Hashmi was completing a masters degree in international relations, Farad was treated as an ordinary detainee awaiting trial, with no untoward behaviors or problems.
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