John Carlin Complains that ISIL Is Targeting Same Youth FBI Long Has Been

I’m reviewing some of the videos from the Aspen Security Forum. This one features DOJ Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass.

I’m including it here so you can review Carlin’s complaints in the first part of the video. He explains to Ken Dilanian that ISIL’s recruiting strategy is different from Al Qaeda’s in that they recruit the young and mentally ill. He calls them children, repeatedly, but points to just one that involved a minor. 80% are 40 and under, 40% are 21 and under. In other words, he’s mostly complaining that ISIL is targeting young men who are in their early 20s. He even uses the stereotype of a guy in his parents’ basement, interacting on social media without them knowing.

Carlin, of course, has just described FBI’s targeting strategy for terrorist stings, where they reach out to young men — many with mental disabilities — over social media, only then to throw an informant or undercover officer at the target, to convince him to press the button that (the target believes) will detonate a bomb — though of course the bomb is an FBI-supplied inert bomb. He should know this, because before the end of the panel, he invokes Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the Portland youth convicted for pressing a button who was first targeted by FBI’s informant when he was 16 or so (and whose father asked FBI for help, only to have them target his son).

I’m not contesting the truth of Carlin’s claims. But if this is a new strategy — essentially adopting the strategy the FBI has used since 9/11 (and especially since 2009) — one that Carlin deems especially outrageous, then it ought to reflect back on FBI’s practice. If it is outrageous for ISIL to target young and in some cases mentally unstable men because they are so vulnerable because they’re not yet old enough to resist, then it should also be considered outrageous for FBI to do the same to fluff their terrorism conviction rates. Plus, Carlin’s depiction of this as a new strategy suggests all those earlier targeted young men may not have been recruited by core al Qaeda.

Not to mention, the vulnerability of this population ought to point to a different way of combatting terrorism (and domestic terrorism, which has been a bigger problem in recent weeks): to make this community less vulnerable.

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. bevin says:

    ” It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones…”
    Or would that be terrorism?

  2. P J Evans says:

    Jobs that aren’t minimum-wage and dead-end would be a good start. Of course, that would require that the government do its job of enforcing regulations and things like anti-trust laws.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      Instead we get very nice Northrop Grumman commercials for flight. I’ve seen one of late that looks like the saucer from movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Not to mention, the vulnerability of this population ought to point to a different way of combatting terrorism (and domestic terrorism, which has been a bigger problem in recent weeks): to make this community less vulnerable.”
    Nice point. An unlikely choice for this government to make, since it seems intent on making all of us more vulnerable. It would be like running a business for something in addition to profit.

  4. jo6pac says:

    WOW the fbi and the isis are in competition for the same young people. There must be a message in there but I just don’t see it;)

  5. Les says:

    There are claims that John McCain’s files were hacked and a staged ISIS beheading video was among those found.

    http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/453413/ISIS-beheading-videos-staged-actors

    It’s interesting that ‘ISIS’ is now calling off the beheading videos.

    As for the mentally ill and immature commiting terrorist acts, it shows that the government is playing a dangerous game by staging sting operations and selling them to the public as real plots, thereby inspiring copycats.

    • emptywheel says:

      FWIW, the “new” policy is actually what their old policy was. They never actually showed the beheading. They showed the before and after, but not the actual beheading.

  6. JamesJoyce says:

    Seems like a big tobacco commercial, to justify a military response and expenditures.

    Feed the Beast…

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