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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Could The FBI Do More To Track ‘Lone Wolf’ Killers, Not Just Terrorists?

James E. Holmes (left) appears in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo. Rezwan Ferdaus (right) allegedly plotted to fly explosives-packed model planes into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. (Department of Justice/AP/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

James E. Holmes (left) appears in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo. Rezwan Ferdaus (right) allegedly plotted to fly explosives-packed model planes into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. (Department of Justice/AP/Denver Post, RJ Sangosti, Pool)

Twenty-four-year-old Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes bought an assault rifle, two automatics, a shotgun and 6,000 rounds of ammunition without ever showing up on the radar of law enforcement.

Yet 26-year-old Muslim-American Rezwan Ferdaus, who pleaded guilty in Boston last week to terrorism charges related to a plot to fly remote-controlled airplanes into federal buildings, was the focus of a year-long sting operation that provided him with material support that he otherwise likely would not have had to commit crimes. A comparison of the two cases raises troubling questions about FBI priorities and intelligence-gathering.

National security expert James Bamford told WBUR reporter David Boeri, “I think if Holmes had a Muslim name he would have come into a great deal of attention with a lot less purchases.” Boeri suggests that FBI could use the kind of intelligence-gathering process the Drug Enforcement Agency puts into practice in Massachusetts: staying in contact with community leaders who might be able to tip agents off to any unusual behavior.

Guest:

  • David Boeri, WBUR reporter

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    The government has to keep the Muslim Bogeyman alive and well so the voting public can continue to be controlled by fear.  

  • BHA in Vermont

    Does your guest believe there is a person at the other end of an online purchase who would notice someone wanted expedited shipping on body armor? At least in places like Amazon, the product is pulled by someone running their tail off in a ware house collecting things by ID, not actual appearance, to make their required daily “pull” quota. It gets tossed into a box and a machine slaps the computer generated shipping label on it. No person looks at the whole order, it is computerized as much as possible.

    Case in point. My daughter ordered a pair of cream colored slippers. She got leopard print. We initiated a return with a “replace” option. Before we sent the first pair back, she got the replacement: another pair of leopard print. The label on the plastic bag of both pair said “Cream”.  We put both pair in the same box and returned them – give us our money back, she already bought a pair from another location. A month later I got an email saying they were charging our card for the “un-returned” pair. So we save them money by sending two pair in a single box and their “process” can’t figure out that they got both back. It was cleared up but as you can see, “People” are not involved in the fulfillment process any more than is absolutely necessarily. An order is an order, there isn’t someone approving each one or wondering if there is anything unusual about them.

  • MadMagyar

    “Wow! Someone bought 6,000 rounds of ammuninition. Why didn’t anybody catch that?”

    Are you kidding me? That statement/question has no apparent thought process behind it. Why WOULD any supplier flag a purchase of that size when Wal Mart customers will go into a store and buy up an entire delivery of 10,000 rounds or more? It got so bad at my local store a year ago that the manager established a limit on the number of boxes (of 20 – 50 rounds) that one customer could buy, just so other customers could have a chance. The same thing was happening at sporting goods stores like Cabela’s, Sportsmen’s Warehouse, etc. That’s what happens when ammo gets scare and prices go up, especialy when DHS purchases 450 MILLION rounds of one caliber alone (.40 S&W – hollow point). And it’s a pretty scary idea that an agency as (supposedly) inocuous as the USDA purchases 326,000 rounds of hollow point ammo. Why? Are they planning to go to war against raw milk manufacturers or families with backyard gardens?

    Why don’t YOU question something like THAT?

    Aside from that, the FBI has to justify their yearly budget. They can’t find “real” terrorists who come across the borders by the thousands each month, so they have to manufacture them with sting operations or, even worse, setting up innocent people. Edgar Steele is just one case in point. They used a criminal informant (the more appropriate term) to frame an old, ailing lawyer who was merely unpopular with the local judiciary. The CI used a “murder-for-hire” story to cover his theft of $45,000 in silver from the Steele home while he was employed as a handyman there. The CI actually manufactured and planted a REAL bomb in the Steele’s family car. But the FBI didn’t care about a little detail like that – all they wanted was a high profile suspect and conviction. They even manufactured “taped conversations” to get the conviction. All to justify their budget for next year.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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