A short while ago 49 people were killed in a club in Orlando Florida. Last week bombs exploded in NYC’s Chelsea and Linden, New Jersey. These incidents reveal a very troubling issue for security in the United States. Each of the perpetrators of these crimes had been reported to the FBI as potential terrorists and each time the investigation ended with no arrest.
Contrast these two terrorists with the case of James Cromitie who was the subject of a sting operation and convicted of terrorism. Following his conviction, Trial Judge Colleen McMahon expressed the view that the FBI “created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true.” And she added: “Only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope.”
As Judge McMahon described the FBI”s tactics:
“The Government (not Cromitie) first introduced the idea of an attack on Stewart to the “mission” several months after the CI proposed attacking Jewish targets. Although Cromitie lived in Newburgh he had never been to Stewart; the CI told Cromitie that supply planes for U.S. troops in Afghanistan were flying out of the airport. It is clear from the December 17, 2008 conversation between the CI and Cromitie that it was not Cromitie’s idea to shoot a missile at military aircraft at Stewart Airport…”
U.S. v Cromitie, 2011 WL 2693297(S.D.N.Y. 2011)
If the FBI is capable of giving someone the idea to commit a specific act of terrorism, why can’t the FBI do the same thing with someone identified as having terrorist intentions.
Now consider these incidents with what we now know of the tactics used by ISIS to bring terrorism to America. An August 3, 2016 New York Times article, entitled How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers, by Rukmini Callimachi, describes a jailhouse interview with a German man who joined the Islamic State and revealed the workings of a unit of ISIS whose lieutenants are empowered to plan attacks around the world. When it comes to America, here is the plan for ISIS:
“The intelligence documents and Mr. Sarfo agree that the Islamic State has made the most of its recruits’ nationalities by sending them back to plot attacks at home. Yet one important region where the Emni is not thought to have succeeded in sending trained attackers is North America, Mr. Sarfo said, recalling what the members of the branch told him.”
“Though dozens of Americans have become members of the Islamic State, and some have been recruited into the external operations wing, “they know it’s hard for them to get Americans into America” once they have traveled to Syria, he said.”
“For America and Canada, it’s much easier for them to get them over the social network, because they say the Americans are dumb – they have open gun policies,” he said. “They say we can radicalize them easily, and if they have no prior record, they can buy guns, so we don’t need to have no contact man who has to provide guns for them.”
Hearing this from ISIS itself, it seems that, instead of setting up sting operations, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) should be using those tactics on individuals who are reported by others as harboring terrorist ideas or those potential killers who express their terrorist ideas on social media. Such individuals can easily be lured into a conspiracy to commit an imagined crime.
“A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to join together to attempt to accomplish some unlawful purpose. It is a kind of “partnership in crime” in which each member becomes the agent of every other member. It does not matter whether or not the conspiracy was successful. The essence of the offense is that two or more persons have combined, or mutually agreed, to do something illegal.”
U.S. Attorney’s Manual, 2167. Jury Instruction — Conspiracy — 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), citing Iannelli v. United States, 420 U.S. 770, 777 (1975).
We have learned that ISIS has changed its tactics. America has to change its tactics as well.