FBI entraps four Black men in phony bomb plot
Published May 27, 2009 1:19 PM
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York state Gov. David A. Paterson and
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly honored the FBI agents and New York Police
Department personnel who foiled the phony FBI-engineered “terror
Each official took turns May 21 congratulating the federal and local cops,
overblowing the circumstances surrounding the arrests of four Black men.
Bloomberg said of the arrests, “I feel safer in the city today than ever
before,” and, “They have prevented what could have been a terrible
loss of life.”
Paterson said it was “one of the most heinous crimes that has been
[planned] in this city for a long time.”
Kelly called the response of the cops and FBI, “a textbook example of how
a major investigation should be handled.” (New York Daily News, May
This so-called plot ended when police arrested James Cromitie, 44; David
Williams, 28; Onta Williams, 32; and Haitian immigrant Laguerre Payen, 27, as
the four allegedly planted two bags supposedly filled with inert plastic
explosives at two synagogues in the exclusive Riverdale neighborhood in the
As with all the other so-called “homegrown terror plots,” this case
is being revealed for what it really is: entrapment. It is one more incident of
an FBI informant going fishing, baiting, in particular, Black men and enticing
them with money and other favors, directing their conversations and playing
upon their anger against their oppression.
This case has many similarities to a so-called plot involving the Miami 7. Five
of the Miami defendants of the mostly Haitian group of seven were convicted a
week earlier. It is also similar to the phony Fort Dix plot that led to five
Muslim men being convicted earlier in May.
Informant promised to help dying brother
Elizabeth McWilliams, the mother of David Williams, said that the FBI
informant, Shahed (Malik) Hussain, offered to help save David’s dying
brother, who needs a liver transplant and is dying from an immunity disorder,
sarcoidosis. McWilliams said, “He promised he would take care of
it.” (Daily News, May 24)
James Cromitie’s friend, Kathleen Baynes, said the informant, also known
as Maqsood, had given Cromitie rent money and cash. “They come and hit a
brother who is down and out,” she said, “and tell him they’ll
give him the world. Maqsood is no different than a pimp or drug dealer sitting
on 42nd St.” (Daily News, May 24)
The government charged the four men with one count of conspiracy to use a
weapon of mass destruction and another count of conspiracy to use an
anti-aircraft missile. The four had all been released from prison in the recent
past after having served time, mostly for drug convictions.
Cromitie worked at Wal-Mart and Onta Williams at loading and unloading trucks
since being released. Another of the men worked at a landscaping company. Their
neighbors describe them as nice guys. “There’s nothing bad to say
about him,” one friend said, regarding Cromitie. (Los Angeles Times, May
David Williams’ aunt, Aahkiyaah Cummings, said Williams is a good
Laguerre Payen had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, for which he takes
medication. Payen cannot read or write English. When asked if he understood
what he was being charged with, he responded, “sort of.” Payen was
also unemployed, had no money and was fighting a deportation order. (Daily
News, May 24)
This government conspiracy involved the informant targeting the Masjid
al-Ikhlas mosque in Newburgh, N.Y., starting a few years ago. According to
worshippers there, Hussain focused “most of his attention on younger
Black members and visitors.” (New York Times, May 23)
Informant’s deal with the FBI
Hussain, who had been an informant in a number of other federal cases, had
moved to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1994. He was arrested in 2002 and charged
with trying to help people in Albany get drivers’ licenses. Facing
deportation, Hussain instead chose to assist the FBI in exchange for a light
sentence of five years probation. (New York Times, May 23)
Worshippers said Hussain would approach young men, mostly Black men, and ask
them out to lunch. He also asked the assistant to the imam at the mosque for a
Before attending services at the Masjid in Newburgh, Hussain went to another
one in Wappingers Falls, not far from Newburgh. It was there that he asked an
assistant to the imam for a list of worshippers. Most worshippers found Hussain
suspicious and stayed clear of him.
Hussain stopped attending services at the Wappingers Fall mosque in June 2008,
shortly before he met James Cromitie. It is reported that Cromitie told Hussain
that his parents lived in Afghanistan for a time and that he was angry about
the U.S. war there. This was around the time their relationship began.
A member of the mosque, Jamil Muhammad, said of Hussain, “It’s easy
to influence someone with the dollar. Especially these guys coming out of
prison.” (New York Times, May 23)
All of the men existed under dire circumstances forced upon them as oppressed
Black men with a prison record before they began being mixed up with the
Hussain would sit outside the Newburgh mosque in his black Mercedes. He may
have appeared as a way for the men to escape their circumstances, a way for
David Williams to get his brother the liver transplant, a way for the others to
get their heads above water in times of a crisis of the system.
As in the case of the Miami men, the informant did much of the talking. Hussain
posed as having contacts with a Pakistani group, Jaish-e-Mohammed
(Mohammed’s Army). He had the contacts to get the disabled anti-aircraft
weapon and the inert explosives. Hussain even took the four men to get cell
Since the men primarily worked at low paying jobs, transcripts of the
investigation will most likely reveal that Hussain bankrolled the entire
That Cromitie expressed anger towards the United States for the wars in Iraq
and Afghanistan is no great crime. The majority of people in the U.S. and
around the world oppose the U.S. occupations of those countries.
A New York Times article quoted above even reveals that the imam of the
Newburgh mosque questions whether a plot would have developed if Hussain had
not been around.
It is evident and will prove even more so over time that if he had not been
entrapped, James Cromitie would have most likely gone about his life. So would
the other three. But the FBI and the informant preyed upon their anger.
Ultimately, though, it is not their anger that is at fault, but the conditions
of U.S. society. Here oppressed people seek and, in particular, these four
Black men sought, whatever means might improve their daily existence. Then they
are criminalized for it.
This crisis of the system falls upon them harder than on most people. If this
is indeed “how every major investigation should be handled,” as
Police Commissioner Kelly said, then more such cases of entrapment can be
expected. Their righteous indignation towards capitalism and imperialism can
itself turn them into pariahs.
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