Here is more evidence of the false conflation of America and Israel that now permeates our discourse: specifically, a criminal case in NY in which a young Pakistani immigrant was targeted, entrapped in my view, because of his statements about the Palestinian situation. And so Israel’s predicament, which stems from violent resistance to occupation, is cut and pasted on to America’s relationship to the Muslim world.
The excerpt is from “The Problem of the New York Police,” Michael Greenberg’s report in the NY Review of Books on the ten-year-long program of the Police Department’s intelligence division– Intel– to “map” the Muslim community so as to counter terrorism. Go to the link for the complete description of this shocking case. The boldface is mine:
Intel’s single conviction thus far—in a case that did make it to federal court—was that of Shahawar Matin Siraj, a twenty-two-year-old Pakistani immigrant who was arrested in August 2004 for conspiring to bomb the Herald Square subway station. At trial Siraj mounted a defense of entrapment, claiming that he was under the influence of an Intel agent, Osama Eldawoody, who fostered a relationship with Siraj over a period of eleven months, during which he induced him to hatch a plot that, without Eldawoody’s encouragement, would never have come into being.
There is no doubt that Siraj, and his associate James Elshafay, entered into a conspiracy with Eldawoody—that is, a verbal agreement to violate the law. Siraj admitted coming up with the idea of placing a bomb in the 34th Street subway station. But transcripts of the trial reveal a murky, and highly vague, narrative of events and intentions… Siraj has an IQ of 78, just above the threshold of mental retardation, and the impression I got from reading transcripts of the trial was that of an inarticulate young man, shifting and transparent in his attempts to protect himself and easily led around during cross-examination.
…The prosecution’s main challenge was to convince the jury that prior to meeting Eldawoody, in September 2003, Siraj had been ready and willing to become a terrorist. In fact, for almost two years before meeting Eldawoody, Siraj had been under the surveillance of an undercover officer—a Bangladeshi-American who had been recruited from the Police Academy when he was twenty-three and who testified under the pseudonym “Kamil Pasha.” Never during those two years, according to the reports Kamil filed, did Siraj express any interest in becoming a terrorist. To establish Siraj’s predisposition, prosecutors leaned heavily on a statement he made to Kamil that he could sympathize with the impulse driving Palestinian suicide bombers whose family members had been killed. This, argued the government, showed incontrovertibly that Siraj “approves of violent jihad,” asserting that “this statement all by itself demonstrates predisposition.”