Story of "how the FBI created a terrorist" raises questions about RCMP's role in plot to bomb the B.C. legislature

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      The American news website the Intercept has an engrossing article out today (March 16) that might read familiar to anyone in Canada who has followed the trial of Surrey residents John Nuttall and Amanda Korody.

      The B.C. couple stands accused of plotting to detonate explosive devices outside the Victoria legislature on Canada Day of 2013.

      The trial remains ongoing. But since their arrest, media columnists have learned enough about their circumstances to ask whether the two comprised a terrorist cell sophisticated enough to mount the operation they allegedly planned.

      Nuttall and Korody lived in poverty in a messy basement suite. They both struggled with past addiction issues and were on methadone prescriptions. Questions have since been raised about whether the two are mentally fit to stand trial.

      As the case has proceeded in recent weeks in the B.C. Supreme Court, more has been revealed about the extent to which undercover RCMP officers were involved in various stages of Nuttall and Korody’s supposed scheme.

      Over the course of a five-month operation, police chauffeured the couple between stores where they were shopping for bomb supplies, and helped film a video in which Nuttall and Korody explain their motivations.

      Now, from today’s article by the Intercept’s contributing writer Trevor Aaronson:

      If [Sami] Osmakac was a terrorist, he was only one in his troubled mind and in the minds of ambitious federal agents. The government could not provide any evidence that he had connections to international terrorists. He didn’t have his own weapons. He didn’t even have enough money to replace the dead battery in his beat-up, green 1994 Honda Accord.

      Osmakac was the target of an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting that involved a paid informant, as well as FBI agents and support staff working on the setup for more than three months. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. The bureau also gave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate, and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him to go. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial. He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.

      Some of that might sound like conjecture, but it’s supported by some 2,000 words running further down the page.

      A psychologist retained by the defense, Valerie McClain, testified that Osmakac’s psychotic episodes, along with other mental health issues, made him especially easy for the government to manipulate.

      It’s also supported by statistics on similar FBI operations.

      Informant-led sting operations are central to the FBI’s counterterrorism program. Of 508 defendants prosecuted in federal terrorism-related cases in the decade after 9/11, 243 were involved with an FBI informant, while 158 were the targets of sting operations. Of those cases, an informant or FBI undercover operative led 49 defendants in their terrorism plots, similar to the way Osmakac was led in his.

      (Mother Jones has published exceptional work on the FBI's surveillance and [what it calls] "entrapment" of Americans that culminated in a series of articles published through 2011. A page for that special report is here: "Terrorists for the FBI".)

      Later, there is this, from Osmakac's family:

      “If my brother was truly part of a plot to kill people, I’d be the first one in line to condemn him,” Osmakac’s brother Avni says. “But my brother was mentally ill. We were trying to get him help. The FBI got to him first.”

      In the trial of Korody and Nuttall, the defence lawyer has not yet had the opportunity to question the RCMP officers involved in his clients’ arrest. Previously addressing the jury, he did however request members pay special attention to the extent to which the couple “became ensnared” in RCMP officers’ operation.

      The Intercept's article is headlined, "The Sting: How the FBI created a terrorist". When Nuttall and Korody's lawyer takes the courtroom floor later this month, he might argue the same premise with his questions for the RCMP.




      Mar 16, 2015 at 5:16pm

      Obviously, this was a plot "made to order". Strange how all these terrorist conspiracies are exposed just as Harper pushes for more police state powers.

      Fat Guy

      Mar 16, 2015 at 6:03pm

      Why should we have any confidence in police forces which resort to training pet "terrorists"? This practice is completely absurd, in fact one could call it criminal activity.


      Mar 16, 2015 at 7:45pm

      I'm reminded of Milgram's classic experiment on obedience to authority figures, where the majority of test subjects were successfully manipulated into delivering torture. This appears to be a case of state sponsored terrorism, where vulnerable individuals are chosen to serve as manipulated patsies. Pure evil.


      Mar 17, 2015 at 12:27am

      And consider the potentially horrible flip-side: they help people who do succeed. Think they admit that? If they're willing to orchestrate unsuccessful attempts, why not orchestrate successful attempts? Anything to make a buck.

      Keep in mind that most law enforcement personnel are mentally deficient, would have difficulty finding jobs if the War on Everything ever ended. World peace would mean the violent, mental defectives in law enforcement and the Military Industrial Complex (same thing, really) would be unemployed.


      Mar 17, 2015 at 9:16am

      It is indeed strange that just about every incident of "domestic terrorism" or "terrorist" act that happens on American or Canadian soil involves people who have had some prior contact with the FBI or CIA - from the underwear bomber to the brothers Tsarnaev.


      Mar 17, 2015 at 11:09am

      It simply plays a narrative that our government currently would have us believe. That we are at war with terrorists so we need to be in a real war in the middle east.
      These things are done to scare us into helping the US clean up the mess they made in Iraq otherwise more terrorists will have at us.


      Mar 17, 2015 at 11:26am

      This couple wouldn't have been able to do anything except amuse themselves with their thoughts on terrorism. How much did the RCMP spend to orchestrate this operation. The only thing they are guilty of is stupidity.

      Really now

      Jul 13, 2015 at 8:49am

      The couple wouldn't have been able to afford to do this on there own. If he drove them to the stores he likely gave them the list of things they needed too. How much did they actually do.