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« CNN Backs Off Arrest Report, Says Suspect Identified | Main | EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Boston Marathon Bomb »

Rolling Stone: Inside The FBI Plot Against Occupy

How the government turned five stoner misfits into the world's most hapless terrorist cell.


Rolling Stone

Thunder rumbled and rain pattered on the leaves as Connor Stevens tramped through the darkness down a wooded path to the base of the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. A sad-eyed 20-year-old poet from the Cleveland suburbs, Stevens was crouched in the foliage, his baby face obscured by a bushy lumberjack's beard. Beside him ducked two friends from Occupy Cleveland – the group that had come to define Stevens and his place in the world – both as gaunt and grungy as Stevens himself. Farther up the trail, Stevens knew, three other comrades were acting as lookouts. Gingerly, the young men opened the two black toolboxes they'd carried down from their van. Inside were eight pounds of C4 explosives.

They were actually going through with it. The six of them were going to blow up a bridge.

That they were on the brink of something so epic was surprising, even to the crew, a hodgepodge of drifters plus a pair of middle-class seekers: quiet Stevens and puppyishly excitable Brandon Baxter, also 20. Anarchists who had grown disenchanted with the Occupy movement, which they considered too conservative, they yearned to make a radical statement of their own – to send a message to corporate America, its corrupt government and that invisible grid underlying it all, the System. They'd joined Occupy Cleveland in the fall, but over the winter they'd waited in vain for the group to pick a direction before finally taking matters into their own hands. For weeks they'd fantasized about the mayhem they'd wreak, puerile talk of stink bombs and spray paint that had anted up to discussion of all the shit they'd blow up if only they could. But the grandiosity of their hopes stood in stark contrast to their mundane routine. They spent their days getting stoned at their Occupy­subsidized commune in a downtown warehouse, squabbling over dish duty and barely making their shifts at the Occupy Cleveland info tent; when they managed to scrounge up a couple of cans of Spaghettios for dinner, it was celebrated as an accomplishment. If not for the help of their levelheaded comrade Shaquille Azir, who at this critical moment stood as lookout, hissing, "How much longer is this gonna take?" the plot might never have come together.

The boys anxiously fiddled with the safety switch on one of the IEDs. Even on this April night, as they planted two bombs, the plan felt slapdash. No one knew how to handle the explosives. They had no getaway plan. At one point they'd discussed closing the bridge with traffic cones to minimize casualties – 13,000 vehicles crossed the bridge daily – but there was no mention of that now. Some of the accomplices weren't even clear on the evening's basic agenda. "Do we plant tonight and go boom tomorrow?" Baxter had asked in the van. "No, we're going to detonate these tonight," someone had clarified.

The red light on the other IED winked on, signaling it was armed. "One is good to go," Stevens announced. "We just gotta do this one." A night-vision camera mounted nearby captured the boys' movements as they hunched around the second IED until its light shone. Then all six jogged back to the van, relief in their voices. "We just committed the biggest act of terrorism that I know of since the 1960s," Stevens said, as a recording device memorialized every word. All that was left now was for the boys to pick a location from which to push the detonators and go boom. They were feeling pretty good. They decided to go to Applebee's.

Nothing was destined to blow up that night, as it turns out, because the entire plot was actually an elaborate federal sting operation. The case against the Cleveland Five, in fact, exposes not just a deeply misguided element of the Occupy movement, but also a shadowy side of the federal government. It's hardly surprising that the FBI decided to infiltrate Occupy; given the movement's challenge of the status quo and its hectic patchwork of factions – including ones touting subversive agendas – the feds worried it could become a terrorist breeding ground. Since 9/11, the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force has been charged with preventing further terrorist attacks. But anticipating and disrupting terrorist plots require both aggressive investigative techniques and a staggering level of collaboration and resources; to pull together the Cleveland case alone, the FBI coordinated with 23 different agencies. The hope, of course, is that the results make it all worthwhile: The plot is detected and heroically foiled, the evildoers arrested, and the American public sleeps easier. The problem is that in many cases, the government has determined that the best way to capture terrorists is simply to invent them in the first place.

"The government has a responsibility to prevent harm," says former FBI counterterrorism agent Michael German, now the senior policy counsel for the ACLU. "What they're doing instead is manufacturing threatening events."

That's just how it went down in Cleveland, where the defendants started out as disoriented young men wrestling with alienation, identity issues and your typical bucket of adolescent angst. They were malleable, ripe for some outside influence to coax them onto a new path. That catalyst could have come in the form of a friend, a family member or a cause. Instead, the government sent an informant.

And not just any informant, but a smooth-talking ex-con – an incorrigible lawbreaker who racked up even more criminal charges while on the federal payroll. From the start, the government snitch nurtured the boys' destructive daydreams, egging them on every step of the way, giving them the encouragement and tools to turn their Fight Club-tinged tough talk into reality. To follow the evolution of the bombing plot under the informant's tutelage is to watch five young men get a giant federal-assisted upgrade from rebellious idealists to terrorist boogeymen. This process looks a lot like what used to be called entrapment.

Continue reading at Rolling Stone...



Here's 2 more from Rolling Stone:

The Secret Bailout That Saved Mitt Romney

The Stoner Arms Dealers



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Reader Comments (13)

Sep 28, 2012 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterHoward T. Lewis III
Elaborate, Howard.
Sep 28, 2012 at 2:34 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time Weapons Traders

Sep 28, 2012 at 2:35 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
these cops and their masters are criminals.
Sep 28, 2012 at 6:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterjustin
The FBI's terrorist manufacturing facility is the last great hope of the "Made in America" movement.
Sep 28, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterbilejones
And yet not one banker goes to jail in the largest heist ever in the history of mankind, even accounting for inflation, Worse yet the presidentia hopeful Mr. Romney wants, as his T- Secretary one of the criminals who helped to perpetrate the crime, Mr. Dimon. Not sure if this constitutes irony though.
Sep 30, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
Why doesn't Napolitano or other agency arrest the Bush cabal for some of the numerous attacks on the U.S.? This little collection is to boost someone's nephew as some sort of newsworthy phenomena. Like the immoralities of Bush43. Put them in prison. They do not deserve airtimeor promotion. As I said in this e-publication a year or two ago, the reason Hunter S Thompson had his ashes exploded all over the Rockies was he did not want to be able to climb out of his grave to throttle Jann Wenner or whoever for boosting material like this. Focus on cleaning up the mess, not boosting it. You do that very well. Do you owe these people money?
Romney is sucking on the domestic group that benefited the most from 9-11. Dick Eisenger's name is pronounced 'Eisinga'.
Oct 2, 2012 at 1:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterHoward T. Lewis III
Hard not to think of this story immediately after today's arrest in NYC:

Oct 18, 2012 at 12:01 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
Embarrassing a cretin is not really newsworthy. The FBI has been doing these 'frame-up' activities for many years. In Seattle back in the late 1960's, a young Black Panther wannabe was conned into accepting a few sticks of dynamite from a local FBI 'undercover effort'. The Black Panther Party had refused the FBI undercover agent's overtures and told the agent to take his dynamite and leave immediately and to not come back. The FBI later approached 17 year old Larry Ward, who unwisely did not consult Black Panther Party Headquarters and took the bait. As he ran from the Capitol Hill neighborhood bank scene after setting the timer, he was shot dead by local police and FBI personnel. FBI propaganda and local news papers claimed "Black Panther Party involvement". The local Black Panther Party emphasized self-defense from racial oppression and taking care of youth from disadvantaged families. NOT blowing up banks. And NOT 'killing white people'. They had NOTHING to do with this bombing case OR the 'Black Panther Coloring Book', another FBI project.
This repetitious ILLEGAL framing and aiding and abetting in numerous felonies resulting in loss of life and property from that Seattle bank to the basement of the World Trade Center, convinces me that after hoisting the English Union Jack, the FBI directors take off their clothes and listen to show tunes under the gaze of J.Edgar's ghost in his red nighty. They love this work.
Oct 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoward T. Lewis III
Pretty good stuff though completely unrelated. Holy shit category. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAxXyMAmBMs&feature=youtu.be
Apr 17, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterSKINFLINT
Thx, skin. I bookmarked it for later viewing.
Apr 17, 2013 at 1:29 PM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.
Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.

~MLK, Jr.
Apr 17, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristina Marlowe
While the admittedly criminal money launderers at HSBC are too big to prosecute according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Occupy protesters charged with minor offenses are too small to exonerate. According to an appellate judge, they must be prosecuted to the bitter end, even when the district court and the DA want to abandon the case because it's consuming too many resources to justify the Mickey Mouse offenses at stake.


Apparently the district court judge and the DA didn't get the memo. Any offense, however trivial, and despite being constitutionally protected, must be punished when people have the audacity to protest banks. Welcome to the Divine Right of Banksters.
Apr 17, 2013 at 10:22 PM | Registered CommenterCheyenne

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