The Curious Incident of the “Lone Wolf” Terrorist

by Joe Scarry

Sherlock Holmes is currently experiencing a tremendous resurgence in popularity, and so I am probably not the only person who thought of Holmes upon reading about Jose Pimentel:

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”(See “Silver Blaze” on Wikipedia)

Pimentel’s case, of course, involves the curious incident of a so-called “lone wolf” terrorist. Pimentel was charged with building a pipe bomb and intending to strike a variety of American targets. And yet, according to the New York Times report, “No evidence has been produced in court that Mr. Pimentel had co-conspirators or was taking instructions from terrorist organizations abroad.”

The explanation offered by the authorities for this “curious incident” depends on a species of “auto-genesis,” a sort of Muslim twist on the Great American Dream of the self-made man.

Consider the words of N.Y. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton:

This young man really was self-radicalized.

And those of D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr.:

[T]he threat against us from home-grown terrorists is very real.


Of course!  

“Self-radicalized” . . . “home-grown” . . .  He did it to himself . . . !

And yet . . . .

The Pimentel case involved “an undercover officer, two confidential informers and hundreds of hours of recorded conversations.” Pimentel pled to a single count of “attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree as a crime of terrorism.”  According to his attorneys, however, Pimentel “was easily enticed by the informer to build bombs after being plied for months with free food and marijuana.”

Anyone who followed the NATO3 case in Chicago is completely aware of the degree to which all the planning and intent in that case seemed to originate with the undercover police, and that the defendants were led down the garden path. (See Keystone (Undercover) Kops and the Lemonhead Gang)

Jose Pimentel

Undercover police . . . months of infiltration, taping, coaxing, inducements . . . an alleged “terrorist” device . . . lots of police assertions about what the defendant was thinking and intending and wanting . . . Yes, there are an awful lot of similarities to the NATO3 case.  And just as in the case of the NATO3, the feds seemed to think this case was too fishy to get near: “The case in state court was unusual because the federal authorities typically handle terrorism prosecutions. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had monitored Mr. Pimentel, decided not to pursue charges . . . . ”

(Of course, one difference was that Pimentel is a Muslim. It is sobering to see the picture of Pimentel in his Muslim skullcap and Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuit and remember, “Oh, yeah . . . if you’re a Muslim, they bring the hammer down that much harder on you.”)

D.A. Vance — probably detecting the same opportunity to sound Sherlockian that I did — observed,“The most important aspect of this case is not what happened but what didn’t.” In other words, ignore the fact that no crime was actually committed by the defendant; just be grateful for the demonstration of the state’s ability to manipulate events. Feel “safe.”

The Pimentel case is just one in a long line of government set-ups of Muslims since 9/11.  People who want to learn more about the unbroken string of such “curious incidents” are encouraged to read The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism, by Trevor Aaronson.  And once you do that, get involved in the campaign to stop the wave of prosecutions of Muslims:Project SALAM and Salam Illinois.

Related posts

Naturally, the jury in the NATO3 case has no reason to buy into Anita Alvarez’s narrative about the threat of terrorism from ordinary citizens and how it justifies a culture of fear and a militarized, all-seeing, secret-driven police state. Which is not to say that they’re not concerned about terrorism.

(See In Chi-town USA: got terrorism?)

The NATO3 trial was full of evidence of what “law enforcement” consists of today: undercover cops goading and prodding and coercing people toward doing something — ANYTHING — that can be ginned up into a prosecution.

(See ENTRAPMENT: “I know it when I see it!”)

I think the U.S. is in the midst of a big shift.  I think that for over a decade following 9/11 people have been so enmeshed in fear that their instincts weren’t working properly. I think that we are in the midst of a slow process of awakening: people are emerging from the shadow of fear to a wider range of sensibility — and they are realizing there are some things that are out of joint.

(See Too Much State Power? (Asymmetric Warfare and Asymmetric Policing))

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