- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Capitol Police were “intimately involved in the investigation for the duration of the operation” and assisted in today’s arrest, spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said in a statement.
“The arrest was the culmination of a lengthy and extensive operation,” the statement continued. “At no time was the public or Congressional community in any danger.”[…]
Local reports by Fox News describe the individual in custody as “a man, in his 30s and of Moroccan descent” who has been a target of a lengthy FBI investigation. Fox News reported that the suspect believed the undercover FBI agents assisting him were al-Qaida operatives.
Roll Call notes that the story is similar to that of Rezwan Ferdaus, who was arrested last September in the midst of a plot to attack the Capitol with a remote-controlled aircraft. Ferdaus was also in communication with FBI agents posing as al Qaeda members.
The case is also similar to that Farooque Ahmed, who thought he was going to blow up the DC Metro system in 2010, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who thought he was going to blow up a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland Oregon in 2010, David Williams, who thought he was going to blow up a Bronx synagogue in 2009, and the "Fort Dix Five," who thought they were going to attack a New Jersey military base in 2006.
In each case, undercover FBI agents spent months communicating and providing fake resources to the suspects before springing the trap. (This isn’t even addressing the numerous sting operations run by the NYPD without the FBI’s help, described by Louis Klarevas in his piece, "The Idiot Jihadist Next Door.")
The increasing frequency of these operations is bound to raise some questions about whether law enforcement agencies are pushing along the development of plots that the individuals involved might never have acted on without the longterm encouragement of their "al Qaeda contacts."
The other question is just how many times the FBI can get would-be terrorists to fall for this.