The Islamic Post Blog

JUST SAY NO: Entrapment and Judging of Intentions: The Fort Dix Five Conviction by Khalida
February 2, 2009, 10:23 am
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, National, World | Tags: , ,

By Khalida Khaleel

Islamic Post Staff Writer

The question of entrapment resurfaced during the trial, and subsequent conviction, of five men between 22 and 28 years of age, after being arrested for conspiring to murder members of the U.S. military, at Fort Dix, in New Jersey.
The case was the result of a 15 month investigation, in which previously convicted informants, recorded the prompted rantings of the young men and arranged what was said to be a weapons purchase, where the defendants were arrested en route. The trouble began with one of the defendants requesting Circuit City to make a DVD, of a paintball game, in which teams of men typically shoot dye-filled capsules at each other using air guns. Somewhere in the middle of the scenario, one of the defendants (who is now seeking an appeal) actually phoned the police with the suspicion that he was being pressured by a person –whom he was unaware was an informant–  to procure a map of Fort Dix. He thought the man might be somehow connected to terrorism.
The pressure put on the men could have been construed as entrapment, but the jury ruled out the option, in this case. According to the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, “Entrapment occurs when the Government implants, in the mind of a person who is not otherwise disposed to commit the offense, the disposition to commit the offense and then induces the commission of that offense in order to prosecute.” Most states require that a defense built upon the premise of entrapment must be able to prove: The idea of committing the crime came from law enforcement officers, rather than the defendant; the law enforcement officers induced the person to commit the crime; and, the defendant was not ready and willing to commit this type of crime before being induced to do so. Apparently, the defense was unsuccessful in proving this.
However, as entrapment judges intentions, so does the law regarding conspiring to commit a crime. This is where the men lost their case, as it is a federal crime to conspire, or agree with another person, to commit something illegal. However, Roger Williams University (RWU) law professor, Peter Margulies, elucidated the issue of conspiracy law in America today when he categorized it as “more expansive than most other democracies” in that it “allows you to show conspiracy with relatively thin evidence,” as opposed to other places where the threat must be proven “imminent.”
Time Magazine, in its quote of Joshua Dratel, who has defended a number of suspects in other terrorism cases, judged the situation more harshly in its December 2007 article, “Preemptive Terror Trials:”
“Are we interested in finding terrorists or creating them?” said Dratel. “Even in cases where people are found guilty, I’m not sure that [this strategy] is necessarily finding people who are a genuine danger. What it’s really doing is finding people who — with enough inducement and encouragement — may do something. But whether they would ever do anything on their own, we’ll never know.” In one example from 2005, a man was lured by being shown pictures of torture and sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib. He was then told it was his religious responsibility “do something.” He followed the advice of the informant and is doing 47 years in prison. Like the Fort Dix Five, an entrapment defense did nothing for him.
Volunteer provocateurs.
The agent provocateurs who help land convictions in such cases are, in some cases, not necessarily paid Middle Eastern assets struggling with immigration cases or criminal convictions, as with those in the Fort Dix Five case. There are also volunteers who hold deep convictions that Muslims pose the greatest threat to the United States –even as findings regarding 9/11 cast this theory into doubt almost daily.*
A former judge in Montana and mother of three gave a lecture early last month during an International Conference on Cyber Security at Fordham University entitled “Penetrating Minds of Mayhem: Inside the Psyche of an Islamic Extremist,” for the purpose of demonstrating how anyone with a few completed Arabic language courses, an internet connection, an understanding of “tribal affiliations,” and quite a bit of ingenuity, can ferret their way into the lives of ignorant Muslims, coaxing those with little knowledge of the legal aspects of Islam, its injunctions, boundaries and prohibitions in various circumstances, to say and do things they might not have said or done of their own initiative, and according to the agent’s own preset view of Islam. According to the Jesuit university news room article, “Suburban Counterterrorist Works from Home to Thwart Jihad,” that gave coverage of the event,” the retired judge “transforms herself into a radicalized bloodthirsty mujahideen (sic)” online at perceived “terrorist sites and forums.” The woman purports to have read the “Koran” (sic) and assumes “dozens of identities,” male and female, after exploiting the usefulness of which, she “martyrs” them.
Out of the people induced by this or other means between 2001 (after 9/11) and 2007, there have been approximately 150 defendants convicted in preemptive terror trials, with many more reported convicted in 2008. The Fort Dix Five are scheduled to be sentenced in April.
-*(This makes reference, in particular, to the lawsuit of former Pentagon employee, April Gallop, who, based on her own eyewitness account, accuses officials in the former administration of being guilty of conspiracy on September 11 –See “Army Specialist Initiates Lawsuit for Injuries Sustained on 9/11,” Islamic Post January Vol. 1, 2009).


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