FBI Bust Handcrafted ‘Terrorist’ For Crime Of Thinking About Supporting A Terrorist Organization


Tim Cushing
techdirt.com
March 19, 2014

The FBI’s string of thwarted, self-created terrorist plots continues unabated. Why look for terrorists when you can just craft them yourselves? Digital Fourth has the rundown on the latest “coup” by the agency.

The news this morning is full of the arrest of yet another American on charges of “attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.” Nobody’s suggesting that 20-year-old National Guardsman Nicholas Teausant of Acampo, CA is a terrorist, or that he provided any help whatsoever to terrorists, or that he was in contact, ever, with any actual terrorists. But, the media breathlessly report, he’s still facing charges that can put him in jail through to the 2030s.

The more you dig into the story, the more ridiculous it becomes. And Alex Marthews digs in deeply. The propellant (if you will) for this latest thwarted terrorist plot is little more than a campfire story.

Well, seems that he was on a camping trip sometime last year – or maybe not; investigators couldn’t corroborate that the camping trip ever happened – but anyway, afterwards, Teausant is reported to have said to some guy that he had been on a camping trip and had talked with friends about “blowing up the LA subway,” but that they hadn’t done anything because “they” had been “tipped off”.

Unfortunately for Teausant (but fortunately for America!), the “somebody” he relayed his camping conversation to was an FBI agent. Recognizing that Teausant needed a little more prodding to turn against his own nation, the agent connected him with a terrorist tutor of sorts (another FBI agent). This agent/mentor suggested Teausant travel to Canada to further radicalize and then sent more FBI agents to arrest him at the border. Voila, another terrorist attack thwarted.

Teausant is now facing charges of “attempting to provide material support” to a terrorist organization, a crime that seems to be treated just as severely as actually providing material support. As evidence of Teausant’s terrorist proclivities, agents cited posts to his “online photo account” which said such things as desiring to see America’s downfall and “I would love to join Allah’s Army but I don’t know where to start.”

They also cited the following evidence, which exposes the USA’s contradictory and arbitrary determination of who does and does not qualify as a terrorist.

Also, Teausant was apparently trying to figure out how to go to Syria and fight against Bashar al-Assad. This horrifying offense was committed at the same time that the US government was … trying to figure out how to go to Syria and fight against Bashar al-Assad. Last time I checked, Assad was a brutal dictator. But the winds have changed, and now that some of the people fighting against him are Sunni radicals inspired by, but actually repudiated by, al-Qaeda, I guess that makes Assad now a staunch American ally and defender of secular values?

Here’s some more of the government’s evidence.

The complaint said Teausant referred to himself as a convert to Islam but did not give details about when or why he may have done so. He met the informant through a mutual acquaintance, the document said.

Among Teausant’s plans was to appear in videos for the group, without covering his face — to be “the one white devil that leaves their face wide open to the camera,” he was quoted in the complaint as saying…

The complaint also states that Teausant told the informant he has an infant daughter, and had arranged for his mother to get custody of the girl if he disappeared.

At one point, the informant questioned him about whether he was serious about his plans, given that he talked a lot but did not seem to follow through.

So, while there are indications that Teausant could have wandered down the path into Islamic radicalism, at the point he was arrested he had done little more than talk smack around the campfire with some other young men (Teausant is only 20) and talk further smack with undercover agents. But as usual, it looks as though the FBI had to do most of the legwork to convert this person into a potential terrorist. It was the FBI, not Teausant, that arranged to get him an “application” to join a violent Al-Qaeda-linked group. It was the FBI that pushed him towards Canada to further his terrorist education. And it was the FBI that convinced itself that Teausant was enough of threat to lock up for a potential 15 years, even though he had never actually “provided material support” to a terrorist organization.

The FBI now gets to chalk up another win in the “terrorist captured” column despite having done little more than arrest a guy who talked a lot, but wasn’t big on following through. Sure, there’s always a chance Teausant would have done all of this on his own, but rather than sit back and keep an eye on him, the FBI proactively made his moves for him… and arrested him for following the undercover agents’ bidding.

Marthews points out how completely bizarre this is in a land where free speech is considered a right.

In a more sensible legal environment, Teausant would walk free because, let me think now, because we have a First Amendment and he is entitled to say whatever dumb thing he wants to so long as he doesn’t actually harm anyone, and the FBI informant and agent would be being charged with entrapment.

That’s the way it should work, but that’s not the way it does work. The counterterrorism money train comes off the rails if government agencies fail to capture terrorists. So, rather than restrict themselves to investigating terrorist organizations and sniffing out plots, the FBI has chosen to pad the books with ringers. Teausant may have made some poor decisions and said some unwise things, but even the FBI’s preponderance of evidence fails to portray him as much more than a dumb kid with stupider dreams. And rather than allow the events to play out, and possibly expose the FBI’s alleged terrorist sympathizer as an ineffectual pretender, it set him up for a date with the penal system. All the while, the accolades and money keep rolling in, ensuring the FBI’s terrorist manufacturing apparatus will keep humming smoothly.

 


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