Is Austin-area FBI Informant Brandon Darby, who allegedly provoked anarchists into plotting with ‘molotov cocktails’ at the RNC 2008 connected to plans to "firebomb" patriot bookstore Brave New Books and a sting on "suicided" Palestinian activist Riad Hamad?
December 8, 2009
Remember Riad Hamad, the Palestinian man who’s "suicide" left him at the bottom of Lady Bird Lake in Austin with his mouth gagged and arms duct-taped behind his back? (Kurt Nimmo, Did Palestinian Activist Riad Hamad Commit Suicide? )
According to reports, he was observed at meetings with now-outed FBI informant/provocateur Brandon Darby, who admittedly set up two anarchist/leftists from Austin with "molotov cocktails" who were subsequently arrested for alleged plans to attack police cars outside the RNC 2008 in Minnesota in connection with the "RNC Welcoming Committee."
Since Darby’s exposure as an admitted FBI informant, flyers have been seen in coffeehouses across Austin reading “Wanted: Brandon Darby An Informant Rat Loose in Austin.”
Flyers circulated across Austin coffeehouses reading “Wanted: Brandon Darby An Informant Rat Loose in Austin.”
WHAT’S MORE– Scott Crow, anarchist/leftist who formed the Hurricane Katrina relief group "Common Ground Collective" has made a number of interesting connections with fellow member Brandon Darby, whose role in Common Ground may have coincided with his FBI/Police Informant role, which may have begun in 2004, 2005 or 2006.
Scott Crow claims that in 2006, after Brandon Darby was admittedly an FBI informant, Darby attempted to recruit Crow on a plot to "firebomb" Brave New Books of Austin, Texas. Crow writes:
In Darby’s ‘revolutionary rhetoric’ over the years he tried to get numerous people, including myself, to do the things the two men were eventually taken down for. I believe now he tried to set me up in 2006 (after he, according to FBI documents began informing and provoking) to firebomb a bookstore called Brave New Books in Austin. I was NOT interested at all and thought it was stupid. I tried to talk him out of it. The event never happened. He was allowed to change his mind and move on. What if the Feds had raided him at the time?
This astonishing information was brought to my attention by Harlan of Brave New Books, but the connection to Riad Hamad I found only afterwards in Crow’s posts. Harlan writes:
The vitriol that seems to chase Darby to this day is due to the fact that two young activists David McKay and Bradley Crowder have been sentenced to a combined six years in prison for possessing several Molotov cocktails that were to be used during demonstrations at the 2008 Republican National Convention and were convicted in large part through the testimony of Brandon Darby. The possession of the cocktails is not in question, but what seems peculiar is why Darby an older, seasoned activist would agree to take part in a plan to firebomb a flock of police cars at the RNC, according to the FBI, and not just persuade the younger protégés to avoid instigating violent action? According to the defendants, Darby had encouraged the violence and had provoked the younger activists to take this direction, an allegation Darby denies. Darby admits that he was asked by the bureau to be the “eyes and ears" to monitor the small, loose-knit group of activists that included McKay.
Crow initially defended Darby against allegations that he was reporting to the FBI , warning against ‘divisive rumors’ and COINTELPRO, even after claims had spread that he was an FBI informant. After Darby publicly admitted his role as an informant, Crow expressed regret for his support in a post titled "Eating Crow", and the later expressed several suggestive claims about the extent of Brandon Darby’s political provocateuring in the Austin political scene, as posted on the PM Press.
Darby has appeared on ‘This American Life’/ NPR and in papers like the Austin Chronicle to talk about his background as an activist and his account of how he became an FBI informant through a New Orleans cop– once opposed to his groups’ actions until he was swayed by community relief efforts he witnessed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Or so the story goes…
Crow claims that Darby began contacting the FBI earlier, however, when he traveled to New Orleans in 2004 (prior to Hurricane Katrina) to "see what [the FBI] had on him" in their files. Clearly, in light of certain revelations, this may demonstrate a much longer-lasting relationship inside the FBI.
Brandon Darby has some wild claims, as stated in ‘This American Life,’ that he traveled to Venezuela to convince Chavez to fund their Hurricane Katrina relief effort. While there, he says he was referred to a meeting with the FARC rebels who tried to recruit him to start a revolutionary group ‘in the swamps of Louisiana.’ Darby says he turned them down.
FBI Informant Brandon Darby claims he went undercover to stop Riad Hamad from ‘recruiting people for ‘terroristic’ like activities. Could Darby have been really entrapping Hamad? Why was Hamad found dead, gagged and duct-taped at the bottom of a lake?
Shortly afterwards, while back in Austin, he admits to having reported to the FBI what he claims was a Palestinian man trying to recruit him for a bombing. This may have been connected to Riad Hamad. Crow mentions the NPR stories’ account of the interaction with Riad Hamad:
In the [‘This American Life’]/NPR story, they mention Darby going undercover to stop a Palestinian peace activist named Riad Hammad [sic] from recruiting people for potentially ‘terroristic’ like activities. They don’t mention that Riad was found dead at the bottom of a river here in Austin under very unusual circumstances which the Feds ruled a suicide, but looked like was done to him. And that there is NO public evidence that anything that Darby is saying is true. I don’t know myself, but Riad cannot defend himself against the accusations.
Scott Crow claims that Brandon Darby introduced him to Riad Hamad and other Palestinians at Green Muse Cafe coffee shop in Austin, telling him that "these were real revolutionaries" and not just "anarchists."
This inciting rhetoric, which Crow believes was another attempt to provocateur him into revolutionary action/violence was very similar to supposed accounts of Darby’s goading the "Texas 2" prior to the RNC 2008 that they were ‘weakling vegetarians’ and ‘couldn’t handle potentially violent revolutionary acts at the RNC.’ McKay claims Darby further goaded them to find out if they would take ‘revolutionary’ action or not. When he apparently agreed, it led to the bust. Crow writes:
They also don’t mention that when I went to meet Darby at the Green Mews [sic] coffee shop in Austin during this time he was often with Riad and some men he described in excited tones as ‘real revolutionaries’ not activists. He could not wait to tell me, as if I would be impressed. I told him, as always that he needed to watch out for people he didn’t know, but what I didn’t know was working for the Feds. Silly me. So he is bragging about this in a public place, did he entrap Riad for the Feds like Brad and David? I have no idea, but I know that Riad is dead either because he took his own life because he thought someone was after him, or someone else took his life, because they figured there was an informer in their midst. Either of those scenarios are completely sad and scary, and not the world I want to create or be a part of.
Crow points out that Darby’s accounts of when he first contacted the FBI do not add up:
On at least THREE different and unrelated times Darby has stated that it was the FIRST time or reason he contact the FBI. The first was in 2004 when he, according to what he told me and my partner, went to visit the New Orleans office of the FBI to see what they had on him. It sounded SOOOO paranoid. He explained the story in great detail about his visit. The second time was in recent interviews where he has stated he saw that Brad and David were going to do something ‘harmful’ at the RNC in Minneapolis and he had to intervene. And now he is saying that he had to visit the Feds when he saw that Riad Hammad [sic], his friend, was not in fact a school teacher in Austin, but was involved in some other ‘nefarious’ activities. So which is the truth? I know he met commander Bryson of NOPD in Oct/ or Nov. of 2005. He has stated in interviews that Bryson is the one who introduced him to the Feds. Did he begin his work to spy on Common Ground and all of us then? Where is the real Darby?
Crow says that while he knew Brandon Darby for more than six years inside the Austin activist community, his actions were consistently violence-oriented, and with grandstanding, in opposition to the views held by most of the other anarchist members.
For years he advocated ‘blowing things up’ and later using arson. I don’t know if he did, but he sure did try to get other to do it. So was it revolutionary zeal or agent provocateur sh*t straight out of the manual?
Crow states that Darby seemed to merely adopt the rhetoric of various activist groups while differing from their common behaviors (most of the activists were vegan, yet he ate meat; was in favor of dictation over consensus, and ‘slept with a lot of women’ and acted in a macho or chauvinistic manner). Crow wrote:
Darby was NOT an anarchist. He actually never claimed to be for the longest time. He disagreed with horizontal organizing and many of the underpinnings of anarchism. He DID however absorb the language, when necessary for interviews or speaking in public. He NEVER absorbed the practice during the 6 years I have known him. He actually was more of a quasi ‘central-democratic’ Marxist. He thought anarchist wasted time, energy and resources. Myself and few excluded of course . He would blurt in the same breath. He aligned himself with what he thought the Black Panther Party central committee would do–whether it was true or not. He didn’t have a liberation or even an anti-oppression analysis, but enough information to get by
within radical circles.
He was the only ”’anarchist”’ I have ever known that wanted to ‘overthrow the government’. I debated and argued with him about the impossibilities and reasons why that was a bad idea on so many levels, but he took that message many places to the chagrin and dismay of many radical circles.
Harlan at Brave New Books writes:
Why was Darby choosing a bookstore as a target for a direct action? Was his plan a way to ensnare fellow activists in a plot that would eventually be foiled by the heroic FBI? Or was this plan another classic government provocateur attempting to firebomb an actual threat to the FBI and the state, wielding his useful idiots as his accomplices all the while knowing he would be provided the full protection of the FBI? The latter seems justifiably more accurate given the history of the FBI and its long train of abuses using agent provocateurs to carry out its dirty work. One need not look any further than the FBI’s clear infiltration of Elohim City using Timothy McVeigh as their asset. One could also look at the semi-retarded young religious men in Florida that were drafted by the U.S. government through the work of a joint terrorism task force agent who had infiltrated their group and persuaded them to express that they would be willing to help the terrorism task force blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Also, one should never forget that the FBI helped train an informant and provided materials to the informant that were used in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The bombing was allowed to occur with full knowledge of its planning by the FBI. There are loads of other examples that support the notion that the FBI routinely uses agent provocateurs in an effort to undermine its political enemies and swell its rank and budget.
In regrards to Brandon Darby, it is interesting to note that he was committed to seeing the Molotov cocktail bombing through at the RNC. According to the radio show This American Life, that featured Darby and people who knew him, Darby was willing to go ahead with the plan to bomb the police cars with David McKay in the early morning hours but the younger McKay never materialized and the plot was called off. This doesn’t describe the behavior of an innocent observer and sounds more like the actions of an active participant willing to commit an act of terrorism and then scapegoat a pair of useful idiots. So would Darby’s same zeal for terrorism had occurred if there would have been someone that would have been willing to help in Darby’s plan to attack the bookstore? Luckily, we will never know because he was never able to execute his plans