Poor Mohamed Osman Mohamud. This 19-year-old Somali naturalized U.S. citizen appears just to be the latest in a line of dupes persecuted by the U.S. government for alleged terrorist intentions and actions.
Remember that guy Ghailani? Super dupe. He was acquitted by a Manhattan jury recently on 284 of 285 charges (including 224 counts of murder) after his defense team played the "dupe" card. Ghailani may have bought large quantities of TNT, purchased several large steel tanks and filled them with acetylene and oxygen and...uh...oh yeah, been in regular contact with Al Qaeda prior to the deadly embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, but he really shouldn't be held responsible since supposedly he was "duped" by Al Qaeda into being a terrorist.
Now comes the case of Mohamud. This guy reached out to Al Qaeda sympathizers overseas via Al Gore's Internet thing in an effort to get jihadi training. Those communications were noticed by U.S. authorities charged with noticing things like that...and they established contact with Mohamud to determine his intentions. Not to mention that Mohamud's own dad dropped a dime, alerting the FBI to his son's disconcerting attitude and behavior.
But nevermind. The big story now isn't Mohamud's desire to kill Americans, which he admitted to during recorded conversations. No, the story quickly turned to whether the FBI duped poor Mohamud into pursuing a terrorist activity.
As the media quickly worked itself into a frenzy analyzing whether young Mo is the victim of entrapment, the actual story involving his alienation and fascination with jihad and decision to actually engage in the car bombing of a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland took a back seat. Not even a real back seat...it took the rear facing back seat found in late model station wagons. It didn't matter that he expressed no regret or hesitation at the idea of killing women and kids. Seriously.
I'm confused over what those who espouse the entrapment/dupe angle would like the FBI and other agencies to do when they discover a homegrown threat such as little Mo. Give him a stern talking to? Offer him government benefits in exchange for a promise not to follow through on blowing folks up? What a load of crap.
We've got a problem with homegrown terrorism. Not just us...the UK, France, Spain...any country where there's a large Muslim population with disaffected, unengaged, unemployed youth potentially susceptible to the recruiting efforts and jihadi blather spouted by Al Qaeda and extremist sympathizers such as the now infamous Anwar al Awlaki.
The problem is, we're loathe to say anything lest we be accused of profiling, bigotry or racism. So we act as if each incident is unrelated to the next... as if there's no underlying connection or similarity.
We often hear that "...hey, terrorists aren't just extremist Muslims...how about Tim McVeigh, or the Columbine kids, or the Virgina Tech shooter?"
Absolutely true, you can certainly point to horrible acts carried out over the years by non-Muslim disaffected, troubled individuals. No argument there.
But here's the thing...the crazed individuals like McVeigh or the Columbine kids or the VT killer don't have a far reaching, persistent and murderous organization like Al Qaeda reaching out to them constantly in an effort to recruit them. Aside from the voices in their heads, the lone gunmen pretty much march to their own beat.
Al Qaeda and their extremist sympathizers are preying on Muslim communities around the globe, looking for potential recruits to engage in terrorist activities. Our inability to accept the realities of this situation only makes their job easier.
Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe.
Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector and has recently returned to Diligence LLC, a company he cofounded in 2000, as president.
He appears frequently in the media as an expert on counterterrorism, intelligence and homeland security.
Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.