, 15 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
(1) I finally got to watch #WhenTheySeeUs, but the news interrupted: a "#terror attack foiled in #TimesSquare." A disturbing headline, but if you look beneath the surface, a very different story emerges, along w/ disturbing parallels to the #CentralPark5 nytimes.com/2019/06/07/nyr…
(2) The first thing that got my attention was prosecutor’s admission that “despite his intentions, he posed no immediate threat.” A man wanted to attack Times Square, but there was no threat? That didn’t make sense. How could such a major attack not be a threat?
(3) Looking at the facts laid out in the criminal complaint, things get a bit clearer. As paragraph 3 says that in "the course of an investigation...[the defendant] bought and received two firearms with obliterated serial numbers from undercover law enforcement officers."
(4) That's right, the reason we know #Alam had illegal guns is because we, or rather the #FBI / #NYPD sold them to him. But how did officers end up making this sale? Did Alam seek them out on the verge of an attack? No, they spent over a year helping convince him to carry out one
(5) Officers met Alam nearly a year ago, in August 2018. He said horrible things, despicable things, supporting abhorrent groups. It would have been easy to end things there, to reach out to relatives and try to help organize an intervention. Instead, they encourage an attack.
(6) According to the complaint, officers would meet with Alam every few weeks, bringing up an attack and encouraging him. Alam was never a real threat, as the FBI admits he "lamented NOT having access to the types of resources he deemed necessary to carry out" an attack.
(7) So what exactly did did this "criminal mastermind" do to deserve international media coverage? He took a video of #TimesSquare. Put aside the terrible things that he daydreamed of doing and and all you're left with is a case of felony sightseeing.
(8) After nearly 6 months of meetings and persuasion, officers got him to take the big step, the step they needed to arrest him. Did he try to buy a bomb? No. Did he get an assault weapon? No. He bought two handguns...a purchase that would have been perfectly legal in many states
(9) Of course purchasing illegal guns is wrong, and clearly Alam is no saint, but he's also clearly no #NationalSecurity threat. Still, because of his ethnicity / religion, we treat this as being completely different from every other illegal gun buy in NYC. It's not.
(10) And this case is no outlier, we've seen numerous prosecutions over the years where Muslim men were convinced by officers to try to commit attacks they'd never otherwise have tried, just so they could be stopped "in the act." theintercept.com/2015/02/26/fbi…
(11) Here, it took multiple officers and hundreds (possibly thousands) of man-hours of work to stop a crime that would likely have never have happened if not for the undercover officers involved. Can we ever imagine the same approach being used to target white supremacists?
(11) When conservatives speak about being targeted, they worry about losing twitter bans, but the stakes for #Muslim Americans are much higher. Time and again, officers target and entrap suggestible individuals, only to be labeled internationally as "terrorists." They're not.
(12) I hope it won't take 30 years for us to understand the role that bias plays in motivating these investigation, both the media coverage and the prosecutions themselves. I hope it won't take 30 years to stop our two-tiered justice system for "national security" cases.
(13) Above all, I hope we'll learn to pursue national security strategies based on evidence, not preconceptions. At a time when the majority of #Terrorist attacks come from white supremacists, these prosecutions aren't about safety: they're theater. theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
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