Earlier this month, the FBI’s Los Angeles field office revealed it had charged four men over
alleged involvement in an al-Qaeda inspired terror cell based in and
around California. Since 2010, the men had, according to the feds, been
plotting ways to help provide “material support” to terrorists in order
to kill American targets in Afghanistan. The FBI’s complaint against the
group was under seal until it was released a few days ago, and it has
since attracted attention from activists because of some of the shadowy law enforcement techniques it reveals.
The document shows
that aside from using the traditional method of paying a “confidential
source,” the FBI was also trying to infiltrate the group electronically.
Using an “online covert employee,” the feds posed as terrorism
sympathisers in order to gauge the potential threat posed by certain
individuals. In one case, they say they got a 21-year-old Mexico-born
man to admit he was keen to pursue jihad in order to “stop the
oppressors.” Other sections of the complaint detail how the FBI was
somehow able to obtain audio and video recordings of Skype conversations
in which their confidential informant participated. Given that
it remains unclear whether it is technically possible to wiretap Skype
due to its encryption, it’s possible that the FBI had installed some
sort of spyware directly onto the terrorists’ computer in order to
bypass any eavesdropping barriers.
But perhaps most interesting is how the feds monitored social networks.
One part of the complaint, headed “DEFENDANTS' SOCIAL MEDIA,” lists
Islamist content the men had “liked”, “shared”, commented on or posted
on their Facebook pages. The FBI details how Sohiel Omar Kabir, a U.S.
citizen who appears to be the alleged ringleader of the group, posted
“photographs of himself, non-extremist content, radical Islamist
content, and items reflecting a mistrust of mainstream media, abuses by
the government, conspiracy theories, abuses by law enforcement, and the
war in Afghanistan.” It adds, in reference to two of the other suspects,
“Kabir has ‘shared’ several postings with Santana and/or Deleon, both
of whom have ‘liked’ or commented on several other postings by Kabir.”
This illustrates how important social media behavior is becoming for law
enforcement agencies as they try to build cases against individuals.
But it will also raise concerns about how social network monitoring
could have a chilling effect on free speech, especially if “liking” or
sharing any controversial content on Facebook becomes viewed by
authorities as inherently suspicious or criminal. Other countries have
already had to face up to controversy over how their law enforcement
agencies monitor and penalize social network users. Earlier this month,
for instance, two women were arrested in India: one for posting an
“offensive” comment on Facebook about a recently deceased political
leader, the other for “liking” it. The women have since been released on
bail and, the New York Times reports, a police investigation into why they were arrested in the first place has been ordered.
Help Us Transmit This Story
Add to Your Blogger Account
Put it On Facebook
Tweet this post
Print it from your printer
Email and a collection of other outlets
Try even more services
Fatally Flawed: The Pursuit of Justice in a Suspicious Election
Voices of Opposition
Opposition to War, Racism and Oppression.
Basic Statistics for U.S. Imperialism
All Items Produced In House
The World Reacts...
See Hillary Clinton Make Fun of Gaddafi's Murder
Here is Israel's Crap Treatment of an American Jew
People participate in movements when that particular movement
(1) meets their concrete and tangible needs, (2) offers individuals real experiences in the movement's outcome (3) provides a sense of community, (4) makes available ongoing education and skills training and (5) shows direct and effective ways for people to take further action.
A loose interpretation of a message sent on Sunday, October 4th, 2009 by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy
A worker walks out of a factory building outfitted with nets, installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths, at a Foxconn factory, in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. There have been nearly a dozen suicides at Foxconn plants around China this year alone, prompting calls for investigations into poor working conditions at the plants that make parts for customers such as Apple, HP and Dell. (REUTERS/Jason Lee) #
Portland 9/11 Truth Meetup Group and the Smell of Bacon
You can't have peace for the sake of peace. Peace is a consequence of an equitable arrangement.