A series of recent speeches shows why Dawud Walid may be the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) most irresponsible official. Walid, executive director of CAIR's Michigan chapter, long has criticized FBI actions without offering any proof. Now he's ratcheting up that criticism with some clearly false claims. According to the CAIR representative:
- The FBI has recruited more extremists than al-Qaida.
- The FBI was "just like" the "perpetrator" in recent terror plots.
- The use of FBI informants is ethically comparable to Jim Crow laws and the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.
- The FBI "gave" a plot to the suspect in a recent terror case (A court affidavit shows the suspect picked his own target and date).
Walid's remarks followed recent arrests made in a plot to bomb a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore., and a plot to attack a military recruiting center in Catonsville, Md. In both cases, suspects thought they were detonating bombs to kill Americans that turned out to be inert explosives provided by undercover FBI agents.
In a speech last week in Commerce Township, Mich., Walid blamed law enforcement for the incidents. "The FBI, by using informants acting as agent provocateurs, has recruited more so-called extremist Muslims than al-Qaida themselves," he said.
"Think about that," Walid told his audience at the Zainabia Center, "I might need to write an article about that to the paper one day, insh'allah [God willing], because the American public needs to hear it just like that."
During a Dec. 10 speech in Connecticut, Walid offered a version of the tree-lighting and recruitment center cases that implied the FBI encouraged the plots. The FBI approached young Muslims and "instead of collecting information," agents suggested "a plot to follow through with," Walid told attendees at the Islamic Center of Greater Hartford. Then, the FBI arrested "them and [said] they are stopping terrorism," Walid said.
The FBI, by getting individuals "excited" and "giving them a plan," is "just like the person who would be the perpetrator," he added. "We do not want our government officials encouraging some of the weak-minded amongst us."
Only a day later, at CAIR-Connecticut's Annual Banquet in Bridgeport, Walid accused FBI "agent provocateurs" of taking advantage of "emotional people," "getting them excited," "giving them plots" and then "after they push the people," saying "gotcha!"
"We do not want the FBI involved in inciting or helping lead our youth or young Muslims toward committing crimes that they were not plotting," Walid said.
Court documents show, however, that the two men plotting attacks in Portland and Catonsville had been radicalized before their first meetings with the undercover FBI agents. They refused to reconsider their destructive plans when given "outs" by the FBI.
Maryland bomb plotter Antonio Martinez told undercover informants that he had spoken to other individuals about "jihad" before he and the informant met. In late November, the informant asked Martinez to affirm that the plan was really what he wanted in his heart. Martinez said he was "ready to take the step." At one point, Martinez caught wind of the Portland arrest, fearing that the informant was setting him up. Martinez was told to "think about it overnight." The next day, Martinez called the confidential human source and told him, "I'm just ready to move forward."
On the morning of Dec. 8, Martinez parked a van he believed to be armed with explosive devices outside of a military recruitment center in Catonsville, drove with the informant to an area away from the recruiting center, and tried to blow it up.
During his speech at the Zainabia Center, Walid gave an account of the story behind the Portland plot that suggested that government officials radicalized the suspect. In his account, Portland plotter Mohamed Osman Mohamud "got mad and upset for being put on a no-fly list," when he tried to fly to Alaska for a summer job. "Then the informant came to him and started talking to him and got him upset, got him angry, he started getting emotional," Walid said.
Yet, according to a government affidavit, Mohamud had been interested in carrying out a terrorist attack before he learned he was on the no-fly list in June, 2010. Correspondence intercepted by the FBI showed that in December 2009 Mohamud and an unnamed associate in Pakistan's tribal region "discussed the possibility of MOHAMUD traveling to Pakistan to prepare for violent jihad."
In a July meeting, Mohamud told an undercover agent that "he wanted to become 'operational' Asked to elaborate, MOHAMUD stated he thought of putting an explosion together but that he needed help doing so." Mohamud also told the undercover agent of an inspirational dream he had when he was 15 that encouraged him to "make jihad in a different country" or an "operation here you know like, something like Mumbai."
In November 2008, radicals held the city of Mumbai hostage for three days, killing almost 200 people.
In Walid's account, Mohamud never would have plotted an attack without prodding from law enforcement. "Then they give him a plot to supposedly go blow up a Christmas tree or something like that," said Walid. But according to the affidavit, Mohamud cooked up the plot himself. "They have a Christmas lighting and some 25,000 people that come. You know the streets are packed. I thought, I thought if you could help me you know…," Mohamud told the informant.
Like Martinez, Mohamud was given an "out" by the FBI. An undercover FBI agent reminded Mohamud that the plan was his choice and was told to do "what's in your heart." This comment did not deter Mohamud. On Nov. 26, he attempted to detonate a device that he believed to be a vehicle bomb at Portland's annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.
If the statements attributed to Martinez and Mohamud in the respective complaints are false, Walid has not explained how he knows that and has offered nothing to corroborate his contrary versions of the stories.
His accusations follow a similar pattern established during the past year, in which he has used empty or false claims to criticize how FBI agents returned fire in a warehouse raid in 2009, killing a Detroit imam. As the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reported, Walid has refused to acknowledge any culpability by Imam Luqman Abdullah, who was shot and killed after he first shot at an FBI dog released only after Abdullah refused to surrender peacefully.
Speaking at the CAIR-Connecticut banquet, Walid also took issue with the use of undercover informants itself. He drew an analogy between the ethics of the use of FBI informants, Japanese internment camps and Jim Crow laws.
Those historical examples involved wholesale discrimination of entire minority communities. The recent foiled bomb plots all involved Muslims, but the FBI routinely uses informants for all types of criminal activity.
As a recent IPT News account showed, FBI informants are often used to catch Internet sex predators and drug dealers in the act. And their use hasn't been limited to preventing attacks from extremists of one religion. Earlier this year, the FBI arrest of members of the Christian Hutaree militia for plotting to kill law enforcement officers featured a confidential informant.
Within CAIR, Walid is not alone in using hyperbolic and sometimes inaccurate comments against law enforcement.
"When these individuals were put in touch with the FBI, they were aspirational terrorists. What the FBI came and did was enable them to become actual terrorists, and then came and saved the day," CAIR San-Francisco Bay Area's Zahra Billoo said of the Portland and Catonsville plots. "What [the FBI is] doing is creating these huge terror plots where they don't exist."
Similarly, CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper asserted, "It should be the FBI's role to stop terror attacks and terror plots, it shouldn't be their role to manufacture terror plots."
In early December, Attorney General Eric Holder strongly defended the FBI's recent operations. "Those who characterize the FBI's activities in this case as 'entrapment' simply do not have their facts straight," Holder told a group of Muslim activists.
Responsible voices would stop making this argument, or at least offer something tangible to back it up.