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We are the 99 percent

Inside the FBI Entrapment Strategy

Posted 11 years ago on May 31, 2012, noon EST by OccupyWallSt

emma goldman
That every act of political violence should nowadays be attributed to anarchists is not at all surprising. Yet it is a fact known to almost everyone familiar with the anarchist movement that a great number of acts, for which anarchists had to suffer, either originated with the capitalist press or were instigated, if not directly perpetrated, by the police." -- Emma Goldman

via CrimethInc.

Over the past month, the FBI has initiated a spate of entrapment operations designed to frame anarchists as “terrorists.” Significantly, they have not targeted longtime organizers, but rather people who are relatively peripheral to anarchist communities.

In response, we’ve prepared a pamphlet suitable for a wide readership explaining how this entrapment strategy works, and an analysis exploring why the FBI has adopted it. Please circulate these widely.

Reading PDF [550kb]
Imposed PDF for Printing [550kb]

bounty hunters and child predators: inside the fbi entrapment strategy

The Latest Trend in Repression

Not so long ago, it seemed that the FBI focused on pursuing accomplished anarchists: Marie Mason and Daniel McGowan were both arrested after lengthy careers involving everything from supporting survivors of domestic violence to ecologically-minded arson. It isn’t surprising that the security apparatus of the state targeted these activists: they were courageously threatening the inequalities and injustices the state is founded upon.

However, starting with the entrapment case of Eric McDavid—framed for a single conspiracy charge by an infiltrator who used his attraction to her to manipulate him into discussing illegal actions—the FBI seem to have switched strategies, focusing on younger targets who haven’t actually carried out any actions.

They stepped up this new strategy during the 2008 Republican National Convention, at which FBI informants Brandon Darby and Andrew Darst set up David McKay), Bradley Crowder, and Matthew DePalma on charges of possessing Molotov cocktails in two separate incidents. It’s important to note that the only Molotov cocktails that figured in the RNC protests at any point were the ones used to entrap these young men: the FBI were not responding to a threat, but inventing one.

Over the past month, the FBI have shifted into high gear with this approach. Immediately before May Day, five young men were set up on terrorism charges in Cleveland after an FBI infiltrator apparently guided them into planning to bomb a bridge, in what would have been the only such bombing carried out by anarchists in living memory. During the protests against the NATO summit in Chicago, three young men were arrested and charged with terrorist conspiracy once again involving the only Molotov cocktails within hundreds of miles, set up by at least two FBI informants.

photos of fbi snitches
Undercover informants “Mo” and “Gloves” (aka “Nadiya”) from the NATO entrapment cases

None of the targets of these entrapment cases seem to be longtime anarchist organizers. None of the crimes they’re being charged with are representative of the tactics that anarchists have actually used over the past decade. All of the cases rest on the efforts of FBI informants to manufacture conspiracies. All of the arrests have taken place immediately before mass mobilizations, enabling the authorities to frame a narrative justifying their crackdowns on protest as thwarting terrorism. And in all of these cases, the defendants have been described as anarchists in the legal paperwork filed against them, setting precedents for criminalizing anarchism.

Why Entrapment? Why Now?

Why is the FBI focusing on entrapping inexperienced young people rather than going after seasoned anarchists? Isn’t that just plain bad sportsmanship? And why are they intensifying this now?

For one thing, experienced activists are harder to catch. Unlike anarchists, FBI agents work for money, not necessarily out of passion or conviction. Their reports often read like second-rate homework assignments even as they wreck people’s lives. Agents get funding and promotions based on successful cases, so they have an incentive to set people up; but why go after challenging targets? Why not pick the most marginal, the most vulnerable, the most isolated? If the goal is simply to frame somebody, it doesn’t really matter who the target is.

Likewise, the tactics anarchists have actually been using are likely to be more popular with the general public than the tactics infiltrators push them towards. Smashing bank windows, for example, may be illegal, but it is increasingly understood as a meaningful political statement; it would be difficult to build a convincing terrorism case around broken glass.

Well-known activists also have much broader support networks. The FBI threatened Daniel McGowan with a mandatory life sentence plus 335 years in prison; widespread support enabled him to obtain a good lawyer, and the prosecution had to settle for a plea bargain for a seven-year sentence or else admit to engaging in illegal wiretapping. Going after disconnected young people dramatically decreases the resources that will be mobilized to support them. If the point is to set precedents that criminalize anarchism while producing the minimum blowback, then it is easier to manufacture “terror” cases by means of agents provocateurs than to investigate actual anarchist activity.

Above all, this kind of proactive threat-creation enables FBI agents to prepare make-to-order media events. If a protest is coming up at which the authorities anticipate using brutal force, it helps to be able to spin the story in advance as a necessary, measured response to violent criminals. This also sows the seeds of distrust among activists, and intimidates newcomers and fence-sitters out of having anything to do with anarchists. The long-range project here, presumably choreographed by FBI leadership rather than rank-and-file agents, is not just to frame a few unfortunate arrestees, but thus to hamstring the entire anti-capitalist movement.

How to Destroy a Movement

As we saw in the Green Scare, FBI repression often does not begin in earnest until a movement has begun to fracture and subside, diminishing the targets’ support base. The life cycle of movements passes ever faster in our hyper-mediatized era; the Occupy phenomenon peaked in November 2011 and has already slowed down, emboldening the authorities to consolidate control and take revenge.

As anarchist values and practices become increasingly central to protest movements, the authorities are anxious to incapacitate and delegitimize anarchists. Yet in this context, it’s still inconvenient to admit to targeting people for anarchism alone—that could spread the wrong narrative, rallying outrage against transparently political persecution. Likewise, they dare not initiate repression without a narrative portraying the targets as alien to the rest of the movement, even if that repression is calculated to destroy the movement itself.

Fortunately for the FBI, a few advocates of “nonviolence” within the Occupy movement were happy to provide this narrative, disavowing everyone who didn’t affirm their narrow tactical framework. Journalists like Chris Hedges took this further by framing the “black bloc” as a kind of people rather than a tactic—despite even the Chicago Sun-Times comprehending the distinction. Hedges led the charge to consign those who actively defended themselves against state repression to this fabricated political category—in effect, designating them legitimate targets. It is no coincidence that entrapment cases followed soon after.

“The individuals we charged are not peaceful protesters, they are domestic terrorists,” [state attorney Anita] Alvarez said. “The charges we bring today are not indicative of a protest movement that has been targeted.”

The authorities swiftly took up this narrative. In a recent Fox News article advancing the FBI agenda, we see the authorities parroting Chris Hedges’ talking points—“they use the Occupy Movement as a front, but have their own violent agenda”—in order to frame the black bloc as a “home-grown terror group.” The article also describes the Cleveland arrestees as “Black Bloc anarchists,” without evidence that any of them have ever participated in a black bloc.

The goal here is clearly to associate a form of activity—acting anonymously, defending oneself against police attacks—with a kind of people: terrorists, evildoers, monsters. This is a high priority for the authorities: they were able to crush the Occupy movement much more quickly, at least relative to its numbers, in cities where people did not act anonymously and defend themselves—hence Occupy Oakland’s longevity compared to other Occupy groups. The aim of the FBI and corporate media, with the collusion of Chris Hedges and others, is to ensure that when people see a masked crowd that refuses to kowtow to coercive authority, they don’t think, “Good for them for standing up for themselves,” but rather, “Oh no—a bunch of terrorist bombers.”

To recapitulate the FBI strategy:

-divide and conquer the movement by isolating the most combative participants
-stage-manage entrapments of vulnerable targets at the periphery
-use these arrests to delegitimize all but the most docile, and to justify ever-increasing police violence.


What Comes Next

The authorities are explicitly announcing that there will be more of these “sting operations” at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa. We can expect more and more “unsportsmanlike” entrapments in the years to come.

For decades now, movements have defended themselves against police surveillance and infiltration by practicing security culture. This has minimized the effectiveness of police operations against experienced activists. However, it can’t always protect those who are new to anarchism or activism, who haven’t had time to internalize complex habits and practices, and these are exactly the people that the FBI entrapment strategy targets.

Three years ago, we called for a collective security culture that could protect even newcomers against infiltrators. In a time of widespread social ferment, however, even this is not sufficient to thwart the FBI: we can’t hope to reach and protect every single desperate, angry,vulnerable person in our society. Infiltrators need only find one impressionable young person, however peripheral, to advance their strategy. These are inhuman bounty hunters: they don’t balk at taking advantage of any weakness, any need, any mental health issue.

If we are to protect the next generation of young people from these predators, our only hope is to mobilize a popular reaction against entrapment tactics. Only a blowback against the FBI themselves can halt this strategy. This will not be easy, but there is no better alternative.

Don’t stop speaking out, organizing, and fighting—that won’t stop them from repressing us or entrapping people. Retreating will only embolden them: we can only protect ourselves by increasing our power to fight back, not by withdrawing, not by hiding, not by behaving.

The best defense is a good offense. So long as capitalism is unstable—that is to say, until it collapses—there will be repression. Let’s meet it head on.

Further Reading

What Is Security Culture?

Towards a Collective Security Culture

Cleveland 5 Support Website

Lisa Fithian’s Experiences with FBI Informant Brandon Darby



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[-] 4 points by ToxicReverend (10) from Santa Rosa, CA 11 years ago

Radio interview with the Co-founder of Food Not Bombs Keith McHenry May 25, 2012 about activists being framed as terrorists is linked in with a MEGA verified and vetted "Info Dump" of other stories and "situations" discussed durring the program. Reference documentation includes a government "asset" (aka Outsourced Agent Provocateurs) being paid over $300,000 to frame some advocates and more. "Outsourced Agent Provocateurs", COINTELPRO Entrapping Activists As Terrorists (Be sure to click "Expand this post" for the reference material) https://plus.google.com/u/0/111485701979929741583/posts/N8MYvhSmArk

[-] 4 points by shadz66 (19985) 11 years ago

Thanx. Strong News Item. Further to the "further reading" ... some further reading :

fiat lux et fiat justitia ....

[-] 2 points by soxin8 (9) from Rocky Hill, CT 11 years ago

I hope you will read about my experience with the FBI. Search for "New police weapon against homeless" and also "Historic coverup of FBI and police crimes currently taking place". Bill Anderson Middletown CT soxin8@hotmail.com

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 10 years ago

We are used to police being a street gang. Helene Stapinki's lovely Jersey City history: "Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History."


Our city judge is a crook. Our ex-mayor, tax collector, city manager -- all felons.

Welcome to New Jersey. And we've got a fat * for a governor.

[-] 2 points by Bighead1883 (285) 11 years ago

This reads like something from the former USSR.Cold war tactics used by the state against its own citizenry at the behest of the"Running Man Corporation of America".All OWS protesters and supporters will need the resolve of Arnold Swartzenegger to fend off "Captain America".

[-] 2 points by jph (2652) 11 years ago

nice tract,. will help some folks.

sad how low the manipulators of reality will sink to crush humanity in revolt. wonder how that will work out for them? Quebec is interesting, more sit down with the gov.., interested to see if they listen to the people, or their military/corporate/bankster owners?

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 11 years ago

For further insight into the situation in The U$A, I append :

quis custodiet ipsos custodes ?

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 10 years ago

The First Principle of these police and right wing entrapment projects is to target the most vulnerable individuals:

-- Mentally disordered and long-term unemployable persons. That is, people who have long-established personality disorders and cannot work at 9-to-5 jobs.

-- Individuals with low intelligence. This world is quite a different world for people in the 65 to 80 I.Q. range as compared with people who test out at 90 I.Q. and up. Processing new information does not work the same way. It's somewhat like being legally blind.

Both of these target populations lack a lot of what we consider the normal restraints against extreme behaviors. They are over-represented in prison populations.

They are easily led either with paranoid fantasies or with an apparent emotional acceptance by an agent provocateur.

Consider the Rush Limbaugh audience. A drawer of dull knives. And there's no shortage of them. The man lies every minute, but all the audience hears is his tone of voice and his appeals to non-rational argument.

Similar people in and around an anarchist group, or more likely a Libertarian group retitled with the "Anarchist" label, do not understand what is happening to them. They work on feelings, not any part of inductive logic. They cannot carry out truth testing based on research.

Be protective of your dummies. Same for people with difficult personalities. They have done nothing, really, to deserve what is coming to misuse them.

[-] 1 points by zenix (1) 10 years ago

Thank You. This is well said.


[-] 1 points by ToxicReverend (10) from Santa Rosa, CA 10 years ago

Arrest the corporate psychopaths The three hour Youtube video linked in at the cited post explains the planned mass arrests of corporate psychopaths My post also extends to the negligent homicides charges from the reckless operation of a corporation against people, rather than the corporation. The Youtube link, posted with reference material and updates above is at https://plus.google.com/u/0/111485701979929741583/posts/HvvYW6EKFJx

[-] 1 points by uftscott (26) from Brooklyn, NY 11 years ago

Guys, blaming Chris Hedges for the disappearing, abuse, and persecution of the NATO 5 is counterproductive. I support diversity of tactics, but I'm not an anarchist and this post makes me question whether there's still a place for me in OWS. What makes OWS great is that it's anarchists, socialists, conservatives, libertarians, and even liberals coming together to fight our common enemy - the corporate state. We're never going to grow the movement with posts like this.

[-] 1 points by KingCobe (52) from Baltimore, MD 11 years ago

I support OWS... I realize lots of the original organizers and might I say "leaders" are anarchists and that doesn't scare me any, but are you guys green anarchists or Anarcho-primitivists? It just seems to me that you're going to lose a lot of people when you support "ecologically minded arson." I mean, I'm sort of ambivalent about the ALF/ELF and the "green scare" and I think most of the United States is too. Stick to "leaderless resistance" and economic populism. You're the only voice for it. I still found the article interesting.

[-] 1 points by kailuaboy (2) 11 years ago

sorry but i stopped reading this whole article at the very beginning after reading that. how does one go from "supporting survivors of domestic violence" to "ecologically-minded arson?" someone help me with this please....:)

[-] 1 points by KingCobe (52) from Baltimore, MD 11 years ago

To give you some context: They are connecting the "green scare" tactics of the FBI against green-anarchists in the early 2000s to the current FBI tactics against the Occupy Movement. While some of the same activists may be involved, I find the connection to be thin. Not every Occupy supporter would support(even the anarchists ones), for instance, firebombing a science laboratory.

[-] 1 points by kailuaboy (2) 11 years ago

What is "ecologically-minded arson?" it doesn't sound good to me. Was someone's home or property or a space in nature set on fire in an act of protest?

[-] 1 points by KingCobe (52) from Baltimore, MD 11 years ago

Read about the ELF/ALF and green anarchism. They've never killed even one human being or animal, but they have engaged in arson and vandalism in "protest," which I presume the author of this article supports. I myself am ambivalent about it.

[-] 1 points by OccNoVi (415) 10 years ago

Gandhi and Dr. King gave us vastly more effective social tools.

Anyone can start a fire or wreck a tower or do a break in. ELF/ALF accomplished absolutely nothing.



[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

this last case clearly sounded like Entrapment

where these discontinuous scenario's revealed in the FBI report ?

[-] -1 points by tj200later (17) 11 years ago

Are you unable to do this research on you own?

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 11 years ago

are no FBI officials around?




[-] 3 points by tj200later (17) 11 years ago

And it was a French anarchist who coined the word "Libertarian" to describe his beliefs. Like they say, Far Left and Far Right are not Far Apart:



[-] 2 points by tj200later (17) 11 years ago

"A Libertarian is an Anarchist with money. An Anarchist is a Libertarian with balls."--Anonymous


[-] 0 points by tj200later (17) 11 years ago

My prayer is that the American Sheeple WILL at long last wake up and start playing with fire, like their Founding Fathers did...

[-] 2 points by riethc (1149) 11 years ago

Harnessing fire responsibly would be my way of clarifying the metaphor. lol