Saturday, May 23, 2009

NYT on the Newburgh Informer

We already know the plotters were basically morons -- a common affliction among wannabe terrorists. What is striking here is the clumsiness of the "cooperating witness," and the evident willingness of the Feds to burn this guy in order to make their case. There is a notable contrast with what we know so far about the undercover officers and informants who work for the Intelligence Division of the NYPD. The Herald Square plotters in 2004 simply could not believe their eyes when the cop to whom they'd confided all their anger and ambitions was produced in court, still undercover, as the last prosecution witness in their trial. - CD

May 23, 2009

Informer’s Role in Bombing Plot

Everyone called the stranger with all the money “Maqsood.” He would sit in his Mercedes, waiting in the parking lot of the mosque in Newburgh, N.Y., until the Friday prayer was over. Then, according to members of the mosque, the Masjid al-Ikhlas, he approached the young men.

He asked Shakir Rashada, 34, if he wanted to come over for lunch. He offered Shafeeq Abdulwali, 39, a job, perhaps at his construction company. Jamil Muhammed, 38, said he was offered cellphones and computers.

The man, a Pakistani, occasionally approached the assistant imam of the mosque, proposing meetings, or overpaying for a sandwich he would buy at a mosque fund-raiser. In time, many of the mosque’s older members had made the man for a government informant, according to mosque leaders. They said that he seemed to focus most of his attention on younger black members and visitors.

“It’s easy to influence someone with the dollar,” said Mr. Muhammed, a longtime member of the mosque. “Especially these guys coming out of prison.”

The members of the mosque now believe that Maqsood was the government informant at the center of the case involving four men from Newburgh arrested and charged this week with having plotted to explode bombs at Jewish centers in New York City. The government has said that the four men, several of whom visited the mosque in Newburgh and all of whom spent time in prison, were eager to kill Jews, and prosecutors charged that they had actually gone so far as to plant what they believed to be bombs on the streets of New York, an act the F.B.I. captured on videotape....(more)

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