On the Fourth of July, FBI Disrupted ISIS-Inspired Terrorism Plot It Helped Manufacture

Screen shot 2015-07-13 at 3.57.46 PMAs the Fourth of July approached, media in the United States widely reported terrorism attacks inspired by the Islamic State were possible. The FBI and Homeland Security Department had distributed a routine bulletin to law enforcement agencies warning officers to stay alert. However, there were no terrorism attacks targeting Americans on Independence Day.

The only risk of terrorism came from an FBI sting operation, which agents conveniently “disrupted” on July 4. It involved a mentally ill son of a Boston police captain.

Alexander Ciccolo, a twenty-three year-old who also apparently went by the name of Ali Al-Amriki, was arrested while carrying four firearms. He was previously convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor so Ciccolo was prohibited from possessing these weapons and charged with a felony.

An FBI informant delivered Ciccolo two handguns and two rifles to Ciccolo in Adams, Massachusetts on July 4. A Joint Terrorism Task Force unit arrested Ciccolo immediately after Ciccolo walked away with the firearms in a duffel bag.

In a memo [PDF] filed by the government requesting he remain in pretrial detention, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz states JTTF agents found partially constructed “Molotov cocktails” with “styrofoam soaking in motor oil.” Ciccolo allegedly intended to use the firearms and “Molotov cocktails” to “commit acts of terrorism.”

Yet, Ciccolo did not plan to conduct any sort of attack on the Fourth of July, according to documents filed against him. He allegedly wanted to do whatever he wanted to “before Ramadan was over, and no later than July 31.”

Last week, FBI Director James Comey claimed to have arrested multiple individuals involved in July 4 terrorism plots. Comey noted “some might not be charged with terrorism-related crimes.”

Is it a July 4 terrorism plot if the terrorism suspect did not have plans timed for the Fourth of July? And, if this is part of what fueled widespread fear spread by the media, what does that say about the FBI?

Once again, the public has an example of the FBI targeting and manipulating a mentally ill man. Ciccolo was not planning any acts of terrorism until the government became involved in targeting him.

From the detention memo filed against Ciccolo:

In the Fall of 2014, the FBI became aware that the defendant had expressed a desire to go overseas to fight for ISIL, a foreign terrorist organization. According to a close acquaintance, the defendant had a long history of mental illness and in the last 18 months had become obsessed with Islam. The acquaintance also said that the defendant had recently stated that he believed that the “faith is under attack” and that he is “not afraid to die for the cause.” The acquaintance advised that the acquaintance had received text messages from the defendant indicating that America is “Satan” and characterizing Americans as disgusting.

The person who tipped off the FBI was Ciccolo’s father, Captain Robert Ciccolo of the Boston Police Department. His father had been estranged from Ciccolo for some time. He told agents his son “was going off the deep end” and “spouting extremist jihadist sympathies.”

The FBI examined messages on Facebook posted under the name Ali Al Amriki. They apparently indicated to the FBI that Ciccolo wanted to go join and fight with the Islamic State. They showed he was “interested in martyrdom for the sake of Islam.” But, remarkably, it was not until months after Ciccolo was arrested and convicted of a felony for driving under the influence of alcohol that he became the target of a terrorism sting. (more…)

Did the FBI Really Disrupt ISIS-Inspired Terrorism Plots Planned for Fourth of July?

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey claimed to reporters more than 10 individuals arrested over the past four weeks allegedly had ties to the Islamic State, and some of the individuals planned terrorist attacks for Independence Day.

During a briefing at FBI headquarters, Comey said, “We’ve arrested more than 10 people in the last four weeks.” All of the arrests were “’products’ of online recruiting and radicalization efforts by the Islamic State and that ‘some of them were focused on the Fourth of July.'”

“I do believe we disrupted efforts to kill people in connection to the Fourth,” Comey also stated.

If true, it would validate much of the fear-mongering in news media by news hosts, pundits, and current and former officials, who appeared as guests to talk about the “threat” of July 4th attacks before the holiday. However, Comey was referring to people arrested before a bulletin from the FBI and Homeland Security was distributed to law enforcement agencies.

The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima quoted unnamed US officials, who claimed the list of people arrested include individuals arrested in New York, New Jersey, and Boston.

Two of the suspects, which allegedly planned attacks are Munther Omar Saleh, a twenty year-old college student in New York arrested on June 13, and Alaa Saadeh, a twenty-three year-old from New Jersey arrested on June 29.

Neither of the complaints against Saadeh or Saleh mention the possibility that the two were involved in the planning of attacks around the Fourth of July.

According to an affidavit by an FBI special agent [PDF], on April 27, 2015, the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force received a tip from an individual that a co-conspirator (“CC-1″), Saadeh, and Samuel Rahamin Topaz were planning to travel to join a “foreign terrorist organization.” The individual responsible for the tip informed the FBI of CC-1’s alleged radicalization and support for the Islamic State.

CC-1 is Saadeh’s brother. In April, Saadeh’s brother bought a plane ticket for Jordan. He allegedly planned to study theology abroad, which the individual found to be suspicious because “CC-1 had never been very studious.” (more…)

Anxiety Over Possible ISIS Attacks in US Expected to End When CNN Grows Bored with Fear

Screen capture of CNN newscast inviting all Americans to be very, very afraid for no good reason at all
Screen capture of CNN newscast inviting all Americans to be very, very afraid for no good reason at all

All throughout the week prior to the Fourth of July in the United States, CNN, as well as other media outlets, incessantly repeated vague threats about ISIS launching terrorism attacks during the holiday.

On June 30, CNN quoted unnamed US officials who claimed “symbolic July 4th celebrations coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will further embolden ISIS supporters in the US to unleash attacks.” The media organization, as well as other outlets, spread the contents of a bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, which warned law enforcement agencies of the potential for attacks in advance of the holiday.

The bulletin was titled, “Holiday Celebrations Remain Attractive Target.” It was sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States and warned Independence Day celebrations and activities that “appear to defame the prophet Mohammed” would “likely result in threats or plans to conduct violent extremist acts.”

It is July 5, the day after “lone offenders” were expected to strike a decisive blow somewhere in the so-called home of the brave.

Former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes, who now works as a CNN law enforcement analyst, said this morning, “I think there have been a lot of people hyper ventilating over the last couple of weeks of what was to happen.”

Fuentes added:

…[T]he fact that some crazy ISIS follower chose not to grab a butcher knife and go out the door and attack somebody is not because they chose not to, not because of the measures that were taken. All the security measures are designed to contain an attack, minimize it, but really are going to be in response to an attack. So, if someone or a small group of someone carries out an attack, the police are there to stifle it so that no further attack is made. But people are still vulnerable up to that point.

So, yes, we’re not going to be able to stop, we’re going to be talking about this next year on July 4th and the year after that and the year after that, because we can’t contain the message ISIS puts out and the ability of people to track that message on the Internet and then the ability in their crazy brains to follow it…

Essentially, no matter how many bombs the US-led coalition drops against ISIS in Iraq, no matter how many sting operations are launched by the FBI against alleged ISIS supporters, the US cannot stop ISIS propaganda from spreading. So long as the propaganda can reach individuals on the internet, there is a potential for someone to launch an attack. (Note: Some of ISIS’s propaganda calls out US atrocities against Muslims and security officials likely recognize that resonates with some people because the propaganda contains a few grains of truth.) (more…)

Fear Alert: US Press Unquestioningly Spread Predictions of ISIS Attacks on July 4th Holiday

CNN July 4th Attacks
Screen shot of CNN broadcast spreading fear of imminent July 4th terrorism attacks with no caveats whatsoever

(update below)

A number of US media organizations are spreading fear based on a “bulletin” shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Department that reportedly warns of possible attacks by ISIS supporters on the July 4th holiday.

ABC News reported on the bulletin, which was issued on June 26, and titled, “Holiday Celebrations Remain Attractive Target.” It was sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States and warned Independence Day celebrations and activities that “appear to defame the prophet Mohammed” would “likely result in threats or plans to conduct violent extremist acts.”

Despite the entire global security apparatus built and vastly expanded since the September 11th attacks over a decade ago, it apparently indicated that FBI, Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center officials “remain concerned about the difficulty in detecting violent extremists—especially lone offenders given the individualized nature of radicalization to violence.”

CNN aired a report acknowledging the violent attacks that took place in France, Kuwait and Tunisia on June 26. Terrorism correspondent and propaganda maestro Paul Cruickshank declared, “The worry is the United States is next.”

Unnamed US officials were said to fear the “symbolic July 4th celebrations coinciding with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will further embolden ISIS supporters in the US to unleash attacks, a threat taken so seriously the Department of Homeland Security and FBI sent out a warning to law enforcement officials a week in advance of the holiday.”

Cruickshank ominously opined, “Terrorist groups have historically been interested in targeting the United States on the July 4th holiday because they see that holiday as being very important to Americans, and if that were to happen, then this would inflict psychological trauma.”

Another report from CNN claims the “Islamist terrorist threat is the highest in years,” and “officials have raised concern about possible domestic attacks tied to the July 4 holiday and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.”

On CBS News’ “This Morning,” former CIA director Mike Morell, in his new position as CBS News senior security contributor or chief fearmonger, declared warnings like Friday’s advisory of potential terrorist attacks in the US during the Fourth of July are routine, but “there’s nothing routine about this particular one to me.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States. That’s how serious this is,” Morell stated.

Morell is correct. Bulletins about potential terrorism attacks in the US on the Fourth of July are routine. One was reported in 2013, 2011, 2004, and 2002.

In 2011, the fear spread by law enforcement officials was that al Qaeda and others were “eager to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

John Solomon and Tara McKelvey unquestionably reported for The Daily Beast that the “threat matrix” had “ticked up in recent weeks.” There was no specific threat, however, “evidence” in bin Laden’s possession had shown an interest in attacking “major holiday gatherings, including Independence Day celebrations.”

Nothing happened. No matter how much individuals like former Bush Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend hyped the threat, no one was attacked by terrorists in America on the Fourth of July in 2011.

That might be because these terrorism bulletins or alerts to law enforcement agencies are just agencies being “prudent.”

“I don’t want to overhype it, but I think what was passed out yesterday is just a prudent–prudent a–alert to law enforcement agencies,” Secretary of State Colin Powell said prior to the July 4th holiday in 2002. “And in the course of the next couple of days, we’ll be meeting on a regular basis to make an assessment of–of any additional threats that might be coming our way.”

What happened in 2002 less than a year after the September 11th attacks? Nothing. (more…)