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Defreitas: Not Simply an Idiot, but a Useful Idiot

Kurt Nimmo
Saturday June 16, 2007

“The recently publicized terrorist plot to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport, like so many of the terrorist plots over the past few years, is a study in alarmism and incompetence: on the part of the terrorists, our government and the press,” writes Bruce Schneier for Wired.

Schneier concludes that the corporate media is “just as deluded as Defreitas,” the supposed “homegrown terrorist” nabbed before the plot came to fruition. Of course, as Schneier explains, the

alleged plan, to blow up JFK’s fuel tanks and a small segment of the 40-mile petroleum pipeline that supplies the airport, was ridiculous. The fuel tanks are thick-walled, making them hard to damage. The airport tanks are separated from the pipelines by cutoff valves, so even if a fire broke out at the tanks, it would not back up into the pipelines. And the pipeline couldn’t blow up in any case, since there’s no oxygen to aid combustion. Not that the terrorists ever got to the stage—or demonstrated that they could get there—where they actually obtained explosives. Or even a current map of the airport’s infrastructure.

However, Bruce Schneier is mistaken when he states the corporate media is “just as deluded as Defreitas.” Schneier would have us believe the corporate media has all the reasoning of a five year old, that is to say precious little. In fact, the corporate media is tasked with selling the Brothers Grimm fantasy of Islamic terrorism to an often witless public, apparently ready to believe any sort of nonsense trotted out as “evidence” terrorists, now “homegrown,” hate us for our freedoms.

Mr. Schneier continues:

This isn’t the first time a bunch of incompetent terrorists with an infeasible plot have been painted by the media as poised to do all sorts of damage to America. In May we learned about a six-man plan to stage an attack on Fort Dix by getting in disguised as pizza deliverymen and shooting as many soldiers and Humvees as they could, then retreating without losses to fight again another day. Their plan, such as it was, went awry when they took a videotape of themselves at weapons practice to a store for duplication and transfer to DVD. The store clerk contacted the police, who in turn contacted the FBI. (Thank you to the video store clerk for not overreacting, and to the FBI agent for infiltrating the group.)

The “Miami 7,” caught last year for plotting—among other things—to blow up the Sears Tower, were another incompetent group: no weapons, no bombs, no expertise, no money and no operational skill. And don’t forget Iyman Faris, the Ohio trucker who was convicted in 2003 for the laughable plot to take out the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. At least he eventually decided that the plan was unlikely to succeed.

In regard to the latter, Ed Strong writes, and not for the New York Times, there “is every indication that this … purported terrorist threat—described by some media outlets as ‘even bigger than September 11′—was manufactured by the FBI, which used an undercover agent posing as a terrorist mastermind to entrap those targeted for arrest.” In addition, Strong writes about other sting operations pawned off on a gullible public, all too willing to swallow the propaganda bait hook, line, and sinker:

Until now, these “sting” operations have been targeted at Muslim immigrants. Last month, for example, Pakistani immigrant Shahawar Siraj in New York City was found guilty of plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station in a “plot” that the evidence indicated was based entirely on suggestions from an FBI informant.

The FBI agent provocateur taunted the defendant with photographs of Abu Ghraib torture victims and demanded to know how, as a Muslim, he could fail to take action.

Similarly, in Albany, New York two years ago, the FBI recruited a Pakistani immigrant, promising him leniency on minor fraud charges, to ensnare two other immigrants in a fictitious scheme to help a non-existent person buy a weapon for a fake terrorist plot.

In the JFK “plot,” the FBI “had an inside man, an undercover operative who videotaped and recorded conversations with the suspects. He flew to Guyana with the suspects where the FBI says they tried to contact some Islamist groups. He helped them case the airport,” according to Dina Temple-Raston, writing for NPR. “The FBI’s inside man was a twice-convicted drug dealer. He was helping the FBI in the hope that it would reduce his own prison sentence. Former federal prosecutor and Miami lawyer Neal Sonnett said the informant could have changed the tenor of the investigation because he had a lot at stake.”

“By all accounts, the informant gave a masterful performance that appeared to shape the plot’s development: After winning the confidence of the 63-year-old Guyanese-born U.S. citizen, the Source repeatedly drove Defreitas, who had no car or money, to conduct airport “surveillance,” bought plane tickets for the two of them, as well as a third man, to fly to Trinidad last month, and trumpeted his jihadist sympathies, declaring that the greatest way for a Muslim to die was as a martyr, say court papers,” Newsday reported on June 10.

As Bill Van Auken wrote a few days before, the corporate media had a field day portraying the easily duped patsy Defreitas, a man who often struggled with homelessness, as a threat:

As usual, New York City’s tabloids excelled in … sensationalism. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post Sunday referred to the alleged plot in its headline as an “inferno plan” and carried an editorial stating that the purported plan “to do calamitous damage to JFK International Airport and surrounding residential neighborhoods underscores yet again the overarching threat Islamist terrorism poses to America.”

The New York Daily News on Monday carried five pages on the “plot,” with a ludicrous front-page headline, “Evil Ate at Table Eight,” promoting an inside interview with the Brooklyn waitress who served a meal to Russell Defreitas, whom the paper describes as the “mastermind” of the alleged plot, just before he was picked up by federal agents and police.

Yet the profile of Defreitas, a 63-year-old US citizen who emigrated from Guyana 25 years ago, hardly suggests a terrorist “mastermind.” A former friend describes him as someone who, before becoming a Muslim, had declared himself a Rastafarian and grown dreadlocks. He recalled his involvement in various business schemes to ship air conditioners or refrigerators to Guyana, none of which ever came to anything.

“He couldn’t even fix brakes,” the former friend said. “He never built bombs.”

Other accounts described him as a retired worker living in an impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood, who on various occasions had been homeless. New York Newsday, for example, reported, “Since being laid off from his job as a cargo worker several years ago, Russell Defreitas has lived a meek existence—at times sleeping in trains and trying to eke out a living running two-bit scams, selling incense on street corners and collecting welfare, acquaintances said.”

As Paul Joseph Watson notes, the JFK case reveals “that the terror threat has been overhyped and magnified a thousand-fold for political propaganda,” a fact demonstrated “by documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that show only 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were terrorism related, despite the fact that the Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that it is the primary focus of the DHS.”

In 2004, writing for Counterpunch, Bruce Schneier hit the nail squarely on the head: “There are two basic ways to terrorize people. The first is to do something spectacularly horrible, like flying airplanes into skyscrapers and killing thousands. The second is to keep people living in fear through constant threat warnings, security checks, rhetoric, and stories of terrorist plots foiled by the diligent work of the increasingly intrusive Department of Homeland Security.”

Of course, it helps if “spectacularly horrible” events are orchestrated by the government precisely “to keep people living in fear.” It also helps when the FBI burns the midnight oil, cranking out one fantastical plot after another, with the help of convicted drug dealers, and the corporate media, with yellow journalist Rupert Murdoch taking the lead, turns such questionable nonsense into easily digestible pabulum to be inserted between “stories” about Britney’s “wardrobe mishap” and the “judicial travesty” of Paris Hilton’s jail sentence.

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