[KH: This article talks about Dr. Dhafir’s case.]
CARL STROCK Schenectady Gazette Columnist 5/15/07

I hope you will forgive me for being a tiny bit skeptical about the alleged plot to attack Fort Dix and kill American soldiers there, an alleged plot for which six Muslim men were recently arrested. After following the case against the two men in Albany, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, I can’t help it. Anytime I hear now about an FBI operation involving undercover informants, wiretaps, and Muslim defendants who weren’t actually doing anything but were maybe thinking of doing something, my antennae start twitching.I hasten to add that I have not studied the Fort Dix case and do not presume that the six defendants are innocent. Heaven help us that we should ever presume defendants in a terrorism case are innocent. I just wonder how much was said or done at their own initiative and how much was said or done at the initiative of the paid informants, whose identity I have not seen reported. Certainly if those informants — or agents provocateurs, more accurately — were of the !ame level of integrity as the agent provocateur who was deployed against Aref and Hossain, I would have grave doubts.

I did notice that one of the Fort Dix defendants actually called the police in November to report that he had been approached by someone, presumably one of those agents of the FBI, for help in obtaining a map of Fort Dix and that he was concerned the request might be related to terrorism. That naturally makes me wonder if the whole harebrained plot might have been more the work of the FBI’s agents than of these six men, just as the crimes, if any, committed in Albany were far more the work of the FBI and its agent, who was trying to save himself from deportation, than of Aref and Hossain.

As dim as I can be sometimes, I begin to perceive a pattern.

Right now we have the complicated Bronx case, as I think of it, winding up with the prosecution of a doctor based in Florida who supposedly agreed to help treat al-Qaida fighters, at the instigation of an FBI agent in a long and elaborate sting operation.

The rest of that case sounds equally dubious. One of those ensnared, for example, was a black American jazz musician and karate dude, a convert to Islam, resident of the Bronx, who was invited by a jailhouse informant (the worst kind) to teach karate to al-Qaida jihadists in a Long Island warehouse.

Anything that can be gotten on tape, seems to the driving principle in these operations. Jihad through karate! The new terrorism!

This guy, who apparently hadn’t been engaged in any terror-related activities until the FBI’s jailbird started coaching him and encouraging him, pleaded guilty and took 15 years rather than risk 30 years if he had been convicted at trial.

It reminds me a little of the case of the fellow named Shahwar Matin Siraj, who was set up by another FBI agent provocateur, an Egyptian, and convicted in 2003 of conspiring to blow up a subway station in New York. The FBI’s role? “They created the crime in order to solve the crime, so that they could then claim a victory in the War on Terror,” his lawyer said, which sounds eerily familiar.

Headlines, headlines. Bulletins, bulletins. And we all get the impression that, whew! the government has nipped another terrorist plot in the bud. Until you begin to figure out it was the government that created the plot in the first place and tried mightily, through the shady characters it makes use of, to get someone else to go along with it, or at least not report it, not raise the requisite hue and cry, so the second person, the dupe, can then be charged with supporting terrorism.

This is not to ignore the case of Dr. Rafil Dhafir, an Iraqi-born oncologist who had a practice in Rome, N.Y., for many years, and was charged in 2003, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, with illegally funneling money to Iraq through a charity that he ran. That was not a sting operation, i.e. a crime created by the FBI, but it was another victory for Glenn Suddaby, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York, who also oversaw the successful prosecution of Aref and Hossain.

The attorney general at the time, John Ashcroft, Suddaby’s boss, announced the arrest himself: “As President Bush leads an international coalition to end Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and support for terror, the Justice Department will see that individuals within our borders cannot undermine these efforts. Those who covertly seek to channel money into Iraq under the guise of charitable work will be caught and prosecuted,” conveying the impression that Dr. Dhafir was supporting Saddam Hussein and terrorism, and we caught him.

But Dr. Dhafir wasn’t charged with supporting terrorism. He was charged with violating the American embargo on Iraq, and of money-laundering, which is a conveniently vague crime that it’s very easy to win a conviction on.

What he did was send more than $4 million to Jordan, which he insisted was for charitable purposes though the government claimed some of it went to family members of his associates, and of that amount, some $160,000 went into Iraq, which he did not have a license for, because he said if he did have a license, Saddam Hussein just would have pocketed the money.

This might have been a devious operation, or it might have been merely a technical violation, I don’t know. But the publicity made it appear that the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI had scored a victory in the War on Terror, which it almost surely was not.

Dr. Dhafir was convicted and sentenced to 22 years.

So these things begin to add up, and that’s why when I hear about yet another terrorist plot foiled, I hold off on any reaching conclusions.

My suspicion is that our government from the president down to the local FBI office and the local U.S. attorney’s office is so eager to log victories in the War on Terror that it’s willing to invent them.