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October 22, 2006


Conviction o Terrorists' Reminder of FBI 'Glory Days'
BY K.C. HALLORAN For The Sunday Gazette
Sunday, October 14, 2006

I was with my wife on our way to celebrate her birthday when we heard the news that the two Albany Muslim men, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, were found guilty of money-laundering and other terrorism-related charges that resulted from an FBI sting.

Before the FBI informant went after these men, they seemed to have no intention of being involved in anything illegal and, in fact, seemed to be model citizens. At their trial, they professed to be ignorant of what they had gotten themselves into when they met with an FBI informant.

It seems as though the FBI has too much time on its hands, going after innocent men and tricking them into being a part of an elaborate scheme. Does this mean that there are not enough "real terrorists" here for the FBI to go after?

If that is true, then won't such tactics make other Muslims in this country more ready to become real terrorists? How will the rest of the Muslim population in America react to the case built against Aref and Hossain? Are such events supposed to "scare that population straight?" Or are. such demonstrations of the bureau's prowess designed to turn at least a part of that population into terrorists, so that its agents have a real enemy to go after?

Perhaps the FBI has both these aims in mind. Like a winnowing-out process: the Muslims here who are easily cowed will be certain not to make any moves or say anything that could be construed as "terroristoriented," and those who are so outraged by the actions of the FBI will suddenly be ready to join a terrorist cell. So, perhaps, such a purpose shows real cleverness on the part of the bureau, though some might say such cleverness is a waste of time and money.

If this tactic shows the bureau which Muslims to target, then, I suppose, it makes sense, of at least some kind.


The FBI has a long history of misusing time and taxpayer money, especially when J. Edgar Hoover was at the helm. Hoover was fixated about Martin Luther King Jr., and a number of agents were kept busy spying on him. Hoover even threatened to expose the civil rights leader's extramarital affairs to ruin his reputation.

From the 1940s to the '60s, Hoover spent too much time pursuing communists. In 1959, nearly 500 agents were investigating the lives of Americans suspected of being left of center, while only four agents were investigating the Mafia It was Robert Kennedy, as attorney general, who convinced Hoover to go after the organized crime.

During the Vietnam War, the bureau spent an inordinate arnount of its efforts spying on warprotesters, because Hoover considered them "un-American."

After Hoover died, there was a scramble to secure the 17500 pages of Hoover's "secret files," generally on the rich and powerful, but also on ordinary citizens. He kept these files to ensure that no one could remove him from his imperial position.

Kennedy, Jphnson and Nixon would have liked to fire him, but they were afraid that the things he knew were too damaging to their reputations. When Nixon heard Hoover was dead, he used a vulgar epithet to express his pleasure at hearing the news.

I have always thought it a gross injustice that the FBI headquarters is named after Hoover, but I suppose it reflects his influence on the bureau, even so long after his death. His work as the director at the bureau is legend, and he did a lot of good things, but the evil he did balances out that good.

We have statues honoring all kinds of charlatans in our history, so I guess that giving Hoover a building is in keeping with tradition, and the convictions of Aref and Hossain are too.

Perhaps now that they have disposed of those two "terrorists," the bureau will come after me and try to entice me into a plot to lob cow pies into Republican National Committee headquarters.

_ . _ _ .

K C. Halloran lives in Melrose. The Gazette encourages readers to submit naterial on local issuesfor the Sunday Opinion section.


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