It seems, after reflection, some in the media are beginning to question whether the FBI’s takedown of the Miami 7 last week is going to result in a conviction. Specifically, Mark Hosenball of Newsweek has written that the FBI’s interaction with the alleged terrorist cell may have constituted entrapment:
July 3-10, 2006 issue – Day and night, the seven young men hung out at the rundown Miami warehouse, talking, studying religion and practicing martial-arts moves. They called the place “The Temple,” and took turns standing guard outside the door, dressed up in makeshift military uniforms and combat boots. Sometimes they covered their faces with ski masks. […]
The evidence against the men came with the help of an undercover FBI informant who posed as a Qaeda operative offering to help them….
Yet at the same time federal officials were promoting the case as another breakthrough in the terror war, they admitted it was unclear just how real a threat the men posed. The Feds conceded that the group had no weapons and no detailed plan to carry out an attack. There is no evidence that the men were in contact with actual members of Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
The suspects came to the attention of the government after members talked a little too openly about finding a Qaeda contact. Someone tipped off the authorities, who sent in the informant. They’ve done it before. In other recent cases, the Feds have used informants to penetrate homegrown cells, and have usually won convictions. Last week some civil-liberties activists complained that the informant’s prodding may have helped create a plot that otherwise wouldn’t have existed. But prosecutors say they weren’t about to wait around to find out. “They certainly had the will,” said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. “They were searching for the way.”
Let’s be real clear. These people were kooks. Fantasists playing dress-up imagining themselves as soldiers in the war against the Great Satan. But a serious terrorist threat? C’mon. Until the FBI showed up with their informant to prod these guys into a so-called “terror plot” they were essentially harmless.
This is an incredible waste of resources. Real terrorists are not walking around dressed in camos and wearing ski masks, guarding their “secret hideout in broad daylight. Real terror threats are composed of people who are trying to blend in, not stand out. This case is just an excuse to get headlines, nothing more.