Article — From the August 2011 issue

To Catch a Terrorist

The FBI hunts for the enemy within

( 3 of 7 )

Yassin Aref, a Kurdish refugee from Iraq, was first interviewed by the FBI during their initial post-9/11 sweep. The agent’s notes from the meeting are unremarkable. Aref arrived in the United States in 1999 and was soon thereafter hired as the imam of the Central Avenue mosque, where he earned $500 a week. Still, after the interview agents kept an eye on Aref’s mosque, installing cameras aimed at the front and rear entrances. (When I asked Tim Coll whether he had also bugged the mosque, his face turned red and he wouldn’t answer.)

Aref was interviewed again in April 2003, when, in the first weeks of the Iraq invasion, the FBI began to question some 11,000 individuals who had ties to the country. In this meeting, the two agents spoke with him at greater length, and he told them how he and his wife had fled Iraq in 1995 to escape the persecution of the Ba’athist regime. According to one of the investigating agents’ notes, Aref offered that “the FBI could keep a close eye on him and watch everything he does,” and that “due to his lack of familiarity with the American language and legal system,” he asked that the FBI “let him know if he does or says anything illegal or wrong.”

In the spring of 2003, U.S. forces raided suspected insurgent camps throughout Iraq. Soldiers found Aref’s name and Albany phone number in the course of three such raids, including one outside the town of Rawah at what was believed to be a training camp for the extremist group Ansar-al-Islam, where his name turned up amid “pocket litter” scattered on the ground at the site. Next to his name was a word that U.S. military intelligence officers translated as the Arabic term for “commander.” Shortly after the raid, the FBI launched its sting operation.

To get closer to Aref, the FBI turned to an Albany man they’d arrested more than a year earlier: Shahed Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who went by the nickname Malik and who had been busted helping immigrants fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses, feeding them answers on the test while working as their translator. Malik was facing prison time and possible deportation to Pakistan, where, Coll believed, he was wanted for rape or murder. So Malik was receptive when the FBI offered him a cooperation deal. Coll explained that Malik’s mission, in exchange for “consideration” at his sentencing, was to root out possible terrorist threats. “I told him that he has to produce,” Coll said. “I explained it’s like playing pinball. Keep scoring as many points as you can without people knowing your identity.”

Malik first approached Mohammed Hossain at his pizzeria, presenting himself as a wealthy businessman in need of spiritual counseling. For months he met with Hossain, bringing toys for Hossain’s children and talking about his own religious education. The conversations frequently turned to politics, but Hossain proved not to have extremist leanings. Typical of these exchanges, Malik asked Hossain about the World Trade Center attacks. “Was it good or bad?” Malik asked, and Hossain answered, “Of course, this was bad.” When asked how he defined the word “jihad,” Hossain answered, “You stopped all your considerable worldly business to come here and engage in a few words about God. This is called jihad.” But he proved more pliable on the issue of money, admitting to Malik that he was having “a little bit” of cash-flow trouble on a couple of rental properties he owned. At the behest of the FBI, Malik offered Hossain a loan.

In November 2003, five months into the operation, Malik showed Hossain the missile. In the FBI’s surveillance footage, Malik can be heard describing his business importing merchandise from China. He then tells Hossain, almost offhandedly, that “we also import weapons.” He draws back the tarp to reveal the missile and asks Hossain whether he knows what it is. “No,” says Hossain. Malik tells him, “This is for destroying airplanes.” Hossain says, “But it’s not legal.” Malik laughs, “What is legal in the world?”

The link to Aref was a stroke of luck for the FBI. Hossain himself suggested the imam be brought in to witness the loan, which was made in installments. The handovers of cash were themselves prosaic, but Malik soon turned to the young imam for spiritual guidance, and the two began meeting, occasionally sitting at a local Dunkin’ Donuts, where Malik increasingly brought up controversial topics. Aref didn’t speak Malik’s native Urdu, so the two conversed in broken English. The prosecution would later point to a handful of conversations incriminating Aref, including one at his house in February 2004 during which Malik mentioned that Aref and Hossain should not go to New York City the following week because there would be a missile attack. The transcript of this, the most damning conversation in the eight-month sting, is not available because Malik’s hidden tape recorder supposedly fell off him. Nevertheless, according to the FBI, Aref responded by asking Malik to leave his home. Aref later claimed that he thought Malik was joking and warned him not to make such comments, which prosecutors said meant that Aref was aware of the missile conspiracy. Several months later, Malik once again discussed his other business in front of Aref and made references to New York, but he referred to the missile by the code word “chaudry,” which Malik never explained to Aref. During that same conversation, Malik mentioned that he was afraid he’d have to hide out from the FBI. Aref said that he had no such qualms because he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

also wrote <a href=" ">"The Intelligence Factory: How America makes its enemies disappear"</a> for <em>Harper's Magazine</em>

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  • Terry Wagar

    Gang-stalking is a target specific sting operation organized and funded by local authority’s and their accomplices and informants and by anyone else law enforcement recruits into it!

    These sting operations are similar to regular sting operations and many tactics of sting operations are used in gang-stalking specific targets!

    These specific sting operations consist generally of a three pronged attack on their target!

    1. They take full control of the targets surrounding area around the targets home in order to control the area and to organize staged crimes using under cover officer’s that perform for their video surveillance, police/sheriff’s accomplish this by using their police powers to covertly take control of their targets surrounding area near the targets home!

    Under cover police and their accomplices will take several months to a couple years staging crimes near their target and near their targets home and will even dress up like their target and act as doubles for photogenic photo’s in order to frame their target for crimes (building a case against target!).

    2. Under cover police/sheriff’s will Gas-light their target heavily for their video surveillance in order to put target in fear and to terrorize their target, they do this knowing their target has no way of defending against it and if target tries to warn people about it no one will take them seriously, thus the target appears to others that do not witness these crimes to be mentally ill, so Gas-lighting is a favorite tactic police use to terrorize their target with!
    Police/sheriff’s (gang-stalkers) will Gaslight their targets vehicle as well by letting air out of their tires daily and will annoy their target publicly via street theater tactics, they do this knowing any reaction the target makes will make the target appear for their video surveillance to be either a angry/dangerous person, or a mentally ill person!

    So the gang-stalkers endlessly harass and menace their target on the street wanting the target to react to their subtle harassment for the gang-stalkers video surveillance!

    Police/sheriff’s are experts in harassing people and menacing people and using subtle tactics to provoke people into acting in self defense against the harassment and provoking, and it is that act that police/sheriff’s want to get on their video surveillance cameras!

    3. Law enforcement and their bros and girlfriends will literally campaign against their target publicly behind their targets back and they do so in such a way as to make it impossible for the target to defend themselves!

    Gang-stalkers use constant slander and defamation of character accusations against their target around their targets neighborhood and in their targets place of employment and even around their targets neighbors!

    Their slander campaign is done behind the back of their target so target is unaware of it, and since it is police/sheriff’s that are doing this it is easy for them to tell people the target is a “Bad Guy” and to tell people to be on the lookout for that person!

    By the time the target suspects there is a problem it is already too late because police, using their police powers, without any trial or due process, just spent several months destroying the targets name and reputation!

    The combination of police staging crimes using doubles and their covert slandering of their target reveals what police are framing their target for, and it is fifty-fifty whether police want their target prosecuted, or whether they just want to murder off their target after framing their target!

    Many innocent people are targeted this way by police/sheriff’s and many victims are publicly pedofied by law enforcement while police/sheriff’s use doubles and photogenic photo’s to frame their target, most people falsely accused of being pedophiles end up dead after police/sheriff’s destroy their names and reputations!

    All these tactics are tactics police/sheriff’s use on a daily basis, and your news reporters are fully aware of these practices and are mums the word about it because news reporters always lie for Fascist minded law enforcement officer’s and cover up and conceal these tactics from the general population!

    Many people not in law enforcement join in on the targeting and are recruited into these crimes, many people are involved into these crimes because they were Grandfathered into it because these type of crimes have been going on for many decades!

    Gang-stalking, or whatever term you want to call it by, is a sting operation that is tailored specifically to a particular target, what happens to one target may vary from target to target, but the general tactics are used in almost all targeting!

    • bob k

      Go after the terrosists relatives and family.hold them for Ransome until the criminals surrender. This will change the play field putting terrosists in danger of losing the only thing that might be important to them.


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