If you’re lonely, socially awkward, technically skilled, prone to occasionally cruising Islamist websites, and endowed with an active fantasy life, you don’t need to spend your days TIVoing The Big Bang Theory; there’s a place you can find friends–the FBI. The Feds pretty much fit that profile, and they’re happy to talk to you almost every day, if needed, to salve your solitude and encourage you to blow up something big.
Grow your own pot, the Feds raid you. Grow your own terrorist, they chip in. All greater Boston is buzzing with the news that we have our own homegrown terrorist. It’s a consolation, of sorts, after the Red Sox’s collapse. But it takes a British newspaper to ask how the FBI first found Rezwan Ferdaus; and what actual evidence first proved his predisposition to “violent jihad”? You’d never guess from local media that entrapment raised any legal quandaries.
Was he inclined to kill before the FBI contacted him? The same questions can be asked when undercover agents target a politician with a proffered bribe: did the inclination to corruption precede the concrete temptation? These issues tend toward the theological. But their implications are immediate and practical. Is the FBI pursing real threats, or content to make them up to boost its ersatz success record? And is the Federal government like Goethe’s Mephistopheles: not the defender of good, but a travelling testing service?