This is a weepy story about how these poor guys were set up; nonetheless, it provides some interesting details of the sting that led to the arrests of an imam and a mosque leader in Albany, New York. From the Albany Times Union:
Mohammed Hossain was making a delivery last summer when a man walked into his Albany pizza store bearing gifts for Hossain’s five children.
The kids told their father the man appeared to be “a good Muslim,” and that he was interested in learning about Islam. He promised to come back, they said.
The man, a Pakistani immigrant who worked at a wholesale distribution business nearby on Central Avenue, did return. He said he wanted to learn from an expert, from someone like Hossain.
As a leader and loyal member at Masjid Al-Salam, a storefront mosque nestled in a scruffy stretch of Central Avenue, Hossain, a Bangladeshi immigrant, was eager to help a fellow Muslim.
But their budding friendship was not real. As they discussed issues like religion, a tape recorder whirred silently under the stranger’s clothes. When they met at the stranger’s business, he would slide his hand under a counter to activate hidden cameras. FBI agents were listening.
The conversations, which eventually turned to money, now are the foundation of a controversial FBI sting. Prosecutors contend Hossain and the mosque’s cleric, Yassin M. Aref, were drawn into a scheme to launder money from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile in a fictitious terror plot.
Authorities contend the sting was by the book. In a post-9/11 world, federal prosecutors say, they have to root out terrorists and those who would support terrorism even if it means bringing the crime to their front doors. Defense lawyers call it a clear-cut case of entrapment, exacerbated by government mistakes and an effort to make almost everything the men did — such as making travel plans or phoning relatives overseas — appear sinister.
The case exploded into the national spotlight on the morning of Aug. 5 with the arrests of the men as the FBI raided their homes and mosque. Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C., touted the arrests, though they cautioned this was not a major case.
Transcripts of the undercover tapes show how much prodding by the informant was needed to lure Hossain into the fictitious terrorist plot. They also raise questions about whether Aref, who became embroiled in the investigation five months after it began, was the FBI’s primary target.
Well, I don’t know about you, but no amount of prodding would convince me to help someone get missiles to shoot down airplanes. I guess I’m just eccentric that way.