The FBI Wanted a Propagandist to Become an “Informant”

In a post focusing on the First Amendment problems with Tarek Mehanna’s conviction for serving as an al Qaeda propagandist, Glenn Greenwald posted the speech Mehanna made at sentencing. Most of the attention paid to the speech has focused on the American icons Mehanna used to situate his own extremism, including Superman, Paul Revere, and Malcom X.

I’m far more interested in this bit:

In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful 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.

In April 2008, Mehanna alleged, the FBI approached him to become an informant.

That they asked a young Muslim against whom they had collected evidence of False Statements to become an informant is no big surprise. We know the government has actually used FISA to find evidence of criminality they can use to persuade someone to turn informant.

What’s interesting is that they spent over a year (they had abundant evidence of Mehanna’s false statements by February 25, 2007) working on setting up Mehanna to be an informant rather than preparing to arrest him.

What’s interesting is that they made that kind of effort with a propagandist.

There is precedent, of course. We know the FBI used Hal Turner as an “informant” for five years, in an effort to entice right wingers to violence. We know there have been questions raised about Inspire, the AQAP magazine that Samir Khan edited (after having been watched by the NC FBI but then allowed to leave the country, unlike Mehanna).

But if Mehanna is to be believed, the FBI recruited him in 2008. When Mehanna said no, the FBI prosecuted him for First Amendment activities.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

19 Responses to The FBI Wanted a Propagandist to Become an “Informant”

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @erinscafe The furry picture should lead all reports though.
1mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog Ooof. Hope you have enough coffee and/or bourbon.
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog Sure. But that is exactly why the patina of "legality" is so illusory in this discussion.
8mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog And that applies to torture, extrajudicial killing, banksters, illegal surveillance, and a whole host of issues.
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog The problem, as with so much is the political acts that beget such use/nonuse of discretion.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 @TheBradBlog Right. Failure to prosecute/hold accountable for Senate incursion is technically legal as prosecutorial discretion.
13mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @WSJ: At 79, Jerry Lee Lewis just released his 41st studio album. Listen here: http://t.co/rAJMtCwvpX http://t.co/IVJYFJ10VM
22mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @AntonioFrench: Bob McCulloch and Attorney General Holder should be launching investigations into who is leaking this info. Police? Atto…
36mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @mtracey @billmon1 As SSCI Chair, it was her duty to make the case, and she did, lack of vocal support from others, and non-SSCI depressing
47mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 Even assuming you get past that as to DOD action, which is dubious, there is still issue of §1117+§1119 liability for civilians
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @billmon1 I agree as to seriousness. But disagree that characterization as combatants is legally correct without a battlefield+imminence.
56mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @shenebraskan @billmon1 Yeah, sorry about that. But even in a constant sea of depressing, certain things just stand out.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
April 2012
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930