At a 7 January arraignment, Muhammad Hussain (Antonio Martinez) initially entered a plea of not guilty, only to change his plea a year later. In an agreement to face up to 25 years for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, the government agreed to waive charges of attempted murder of federal employees.
This past Friday, April 6, Hussain renounced any ties to terrorism and expressed regret for participating in an elaborate FBI-orchestrated ’terror plot’ wherein he was recruited by an FBI informant in 2010. While the vehicle bomb and ‘plot’, supplied by the FBI, were fake, the hefty charges and two-year-long ordeal he has undergone have been dramatically real.
The government lead ‘attack’, which was, paradoxically, simultaneously both a danger to the public, averted by the vigilant counter terrorism units, as well as a tightly controlled and choreographed charade, sought to target a Catonsville Military Recruitment Centre.
Muhammad was targeted for entrapment by US government agencies due to his online vocality and his use of Facebook, in particular, has been cited as the source of his government-goaded radicalisation. Such posts as one made in September of 2010: ‘the sword is cummin the reign of oppression is about 2 cease.’ have been said by the state to be a glorification of jihad and thus made him a prime target for FBI agent provocateurs.
Big Brother is indeed watching; federal agents regularly monitor social-networking sites and other webpages and otherwise benign internet activity for hints of ‘unrest’, making undercover contact with political dissidents and those critical of US foreign or domestic policy, and, increasingly, supplying the suspects with phony taxpayer-funded weaponry after months of state-sponsored radicalisation to carry out government-engineered plots.
In Muhammad’s case, an undercover agent passed himself off as an ‘Afghan brother’ and provided a dummy vehicle bomb that he was goaded into utilising after attempting to backout when he heard about an eerily similar situation which had occurred in Oregon. These patterns of FBI precipitated events are well documented and are often lacking in deviation from a standard elementary pattern.
Muhammad is among a handful of Maryland residents accused of using the Internet to develop and spread violent beliefs, offer terrorist services and recruit like-minded volunteers for so-called jihad. This is despite the fact that it is, in fact government employed individuals, often criminal informants, that sought out the suspects and in some cases, despite the fact that no actual crimes, sans solicitation by paid provocateurs, have or had actually occurred.
In other cases, a former Army private from Laurel was federally charged this year with attempting to aid a foreign terrorist organization after a website supposedly drew him to radical Islam. And an Ellicott City teen is due at a Philadelphia federal court this month for a change-of-plea hearing related to allegations that he conspired to help terrorists. The boy, Mohammad Hassan Khalid, is accused of raising money online to fund jihad in South Asia and Europe; he previously pleaded not guilty.
In court Friday, Martinez’s attorney, Deputy Federal Public Defender Joseph A. Balter, suggested that the bomb plot could have been avoided if agents had counseled Martinez against it, rather than encouraging him during the investigation. Balter previously argued that the FBI entrapped his client, but Muhammad agreed to drop those claims during his plea hearing this winter.
U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz said it was ‘not the job of the FBI or law enforcement authorities to try and lead moderation. That’s the responsibility of the rest of us, including the Muslim community.’ A judgement which strangely implies that it is in fact the duty of the FBI and law enforcement to incite individuals to acts of violence, provide them with weapons, training (spiritual, ideological or logistical) in the course of ‘investigations’ that read more like well-rehearsed seductions and state-sponsored indoctrination programs.
Balter said at the hearing that Muhammad was raised with a strong religious background but struggled with his conscience and discipline as an adolescent, experimenting with alcohol, drugs and meaningless relationships. He attended Laurel High School but never graduated and was convicted of a 2008 theft in Montgomery County. He was also charged with armed robbery there in 2006, though the outcome of that case isn’t clear.
When Martinez found Islam, it helped him stop many destructive behaviors, Balter said. On his Facebook account, Martinez described himself as ‘just a yung brotha from the wrong side of the tracks who embraced Islam.‘
In the summer of 2010, he married a young college student, according to posts on the social networking site. Soon afterward, he appears to have developed more radical views of Islam, which his wife did not seem to support.
In jail, Martinez reflected on his choices and came to understand they were misguided and “simply wrong,” Balter said.
‘He absolutely shudders at the thought of what could have happened, the defense team has frankly been moved by what we have seen, the progress of Mr. Hussain.‘
Martinez also spoke during the hearing, with more than a half-dozen family members and friends looking on. He began by praising Allah, then took responsibility for the attempted attack, saying he believed it was the right thing to do to protect his religion.
He expressed love for humanity and professed a new way of thinking that refuted his old, violent views.
‘I believed it was the right thing to do to protect my religion, but the reality of the situation, is that it was not, and this is something I now know. I sincerely apologize for my treacherous actions and behavior, We should not confuse the methodology of al-Qaida for the perfect way of life that is Islam… I renounce [the misguidance] of terrorism.’
Further adding that he was grateful no one was hurt, he also denounced violent groups such as al-Qaida as “in fact, not jihad.“ He called the “real Islam” a “mission of peace” and a religion that no one in the courtroom should be afraid of.
Judge Motz reminded Martinez of the “power of words” and urged him to use his to “teach others that terrorism and jihad is not that way. The fact that we are a tolerant people does not mean that we are a weak people. … We will take what action we deem appropriate to protect ourselves” Motz warned. “I hope what you have come to realize remains true in your life.”
Muhammad hugged Balter and appeared at peace after the hearing, a big smile on his face.