What could be older than the Riverdale terrorist plot? It was way back in May that four Islamic men from Newburgh, N.Y., were arrested in the act of planting what they thought were bombs outside two Bronx synagogues. For most of us, the story is in hibernation. The trial is far off. What more is there to write?
Plenty, according to the alternative media, which continue to attempt to discredit the FBI’s surveillance of mosques and the “entrapment” of the four “dupes.” In that alternative world, the Jews were not the intended victims; the Newburgh Four were the real victims, victims of the FBI. That’s this week’s top story in The Village Voice (July 8): “The Alarming Record of the FBI’s Informant in the Bronx Bomb Plot.”
The Voice lays out the revisionist case: the four defendants didn’t have the skills “to plan a sophisticated terror plot. They were small-time crooks … smoking marijuana and playing video games,” seduced by the cash and chicanery of a supposedly disreputable FBI informer.
The entrapment of fools was also the thrust of the coverage in The Nation, The Amsterdam News, and on Air America, the liberal talk-radio network. Yet somehow it’s impossible to imagine any of them being equally bothered if the FBI had entrapped the killer of the abortion doctor in Kansas, prior to the abortionist’s murder last month.
“It seemed fairly astounding,” writes the Voice, that the Newburgh men could “plan anything more complex than a backyard barbecue,” let alone a murder in Riverdale, 60 miles from Newburgh. After all, says the Voice, one defendant, Laguerre Payen, was described as “mildly retarded.”
The Voice doesn’t mention that Payen was found guilty (and mentally capable) of searching for, and finding, an Orthodox enclave in Monsey, N.Y., 40 miles from Newburgh, where Payen shot two Jewish teenagers in the head with a BB gun. That was before Payen met the FBI informer in a mosque.
The trend has been to protect “the religion of peace.” After the Riverdale Press mentioned that the Newburgh Four were Muslim, they quickly added, “At least, they professed to be.” According to The Nation, none of four “were apparently actual Muslims.” Even if they were, adds The Nation’s writer, “since 9/11 not a single American has even been punched in the nose by an angry Muslim, as far as I can tell.”
Well, let’s see. The Nation and the Voice could just as easily be covering an “actual Muslim” awaiting trial for threatening to bomb Chicago’s Ida Crown yeshiva. They could be covering, but aren’t, the preliminary motions under way in the second trial (after a hung jury) of Naveed Afzal Haq, who admits to being “a Muslim-American … angry at Israel.” Haq did not punch anyone in the nose but he did admit to murdering one woman, wounding five others, when he opened fire with two semi-automatic weapons in the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
The Riverdale Review is the only paper we’ve seen that was alarmed by the emergence of Lynne Stewart as a consultant to the Newburgh Four. Stewart was disbarred for providing “material support to terrorists,” notably Sheik Abdel-Rahman, linked to the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane and the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
As is usual in “entrapment” stories, Jews aren’t interviewed for their understanding of entrapment, or how the Riverdale plot seared Jewish sensitivities.
The Voice might have spoken to Samuel G. Freedman. A writer for The New York Times, he has written with great sensitivity about ethnic profiling and the humiliation felt by one Muslim girl when she was stopped by airport security. Freedman told The Jewish Week, “The fact is, you can’t be entrapped unless you participate in your own entrapment. There’s a big difference between profiling, say, a high school girl, and profiling people who are demonstrably criminal with histories of violence. There’s a huge, huge difference there.”
They might have spoken to Shira Dicker, of Shira Dicker Media International.
Do Muslims feel “violated” by FBI surveillance? Dicker said she “felt violated” by the Newburgh Four taking photographs and conducting surveillance of the Jewish neighborhood where her son goes to school. The idea, she said, “that these men were watching us sends a chill up the spine.”
We, who were chilled, may have thought the story was over. It won’t be, until the FBI surveillance of mosques is discredited, and shuls are on their own.