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View Full Version : that missile sting publicity stunt


zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 12:24 AM
seems even janes is a bit annoyed about it:

Despite the plethora of over-excited media headlines earlier this week, the classic 'sting' operation, which was organised by the Russian secret service (FSB) and the USA's FBI to entrap an alleged arms dealer allegedly seeking to sell an Igla missile to what he apparently believed was a group of Islamic terrorists in the USA, revealed little beyond the intelligence services' insatiable desire for positive publicity.

link (http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/jid/jid030813_1_n.shtml)

and from ABC:

Administration officials are leaving out key facts and exaggerating the significance of the alleged plot to smuggle a shoulder-launched missile into the United States, law enforcement officials told ABCNEWS. They say there's a lot less than meets the eye.


"I would have hoped the United States is thwarting real terrorism and not something manufactured because here all they're doing is stopping something they created," said [defense attorney] Lefcourt.

link (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/World/missile030813_sting.html)

anyone here sleeping better at night because of this?

Sayhey
Aug 14, 2003, 12:35 AM
Originally posted by zimv20
anyone here sleeping better at night because of this?

no. I'd feel a lot better if we put a lot more of our assets into finding Osama and the rest of al-Qaeda.

Backtothemac
Aug 14, 2003, 01:01 AM
Good lord. Something positive happens, and people cannot even give it credit. We know it is a big deal because terrorists have fired shoulder launched missiles at aircraft before.

Secondly, I feel safer knowing that someone isn't selling missiles in the US, and third. The guy was trying to deal 50, thats right, 50 SA-18 surface to air missiles. Could you imagine if on one day, 50 planes went down at the same time.

Sayhey
Aug 14, 2003, 01:11 AM
Originally posted by Backtothemac
Good lord. Something positive happens, and people cannot even give it credit. We know it is a big deal because terrorists have fired shoulder launched missiles at aircraft before.

Secondly, I feel safer knowing that someone isn't selling missiles in the US, and third. The guy was trying to deal 50, thats right, 50 SA-18 surface to air missiles. Could you imagine if on one day, 50 planes went down at the same time.

B2TM,

don't get me wrong I don't want anybody who has access to those missiles and is willing to sell them out on the streets. But these folks aren't the masterminds behind any plot; they're only stupid, corrupt fools who would make a buck off anything.

pseudobrit
Aug 14, 2003, 01:22 AM
And if this wouldn't have been set up, 50 wouldn't have been sold, and 50 aircraft wouldn't have been shot down.

So nothing bad happens either way. I don't see how this is positive. More like a non-event.

IJ Reilly
Aug 14, 2003, 01:26 AM
Just this evening I heard in a NewsHour discussion that that installation of electronic countermeasures on commercial aircraft would cost a couple of billions, which is why we haven't done it yet. Yes, folks -- at the price of couple weeks in Iraq, we could rest a lot easier.

mcrain
Aug 14, 2003, 08:57 AM
What gets me is that there are now reports that the missiles that this guy had were duds. There is now speculation that Russia had approached this guy at the same time, or before the FBI did, and they didn't turn it into a multi-national sting until they discovered that fact. (I heard that on BBC Radio News on NPR)

It doesn't seem nearly as amazing when you have one country pushing a guy to try to sell some missiles, and another country faking buying them. It sort of looks like the guy was entrapped, duped, made a patsy, whatever.

zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 09:11 AM
Originally posted by mcrain
It sort of looks like the guy was entrapped, duped, made a patsy, whatever.

he totally was. and now the WH gets to trumpet it as a "victory against terrorism."

the real victory this week was the spoiling of any BA hijackings. but the saudis were responsible for that:

Adel al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser for Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, told CNN the threat to the airline was uncovered during recent raids on suspected al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia.


could it be that bush doesn't want to highlight the fact that al qaeda is in saudi arabia?

http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/08/13/britain.ba/index.html

mactastic
Aug 14, 2003, 09:28 AM
If I were a lawyer, I think I might publicly announce that whatever airline had the misfortune to be the first in the US to have a plane shot down by a missle would promptly be sued for the amount necessary to equip the entire US fleet with anti-missle defenses, then ask Congress to mandate the airlines install said systems with the money. Force the airlines to take responsibility for themselves now, or risk being the one who pays for the entire US fleet! Just a thought.

Oh, and as for the missle.. Good, one less scumy arms dealer running around. Unfortunately many governments also fill the role of arms dealers as well.

Desertrat
Aug 14, 2003, 04:47 PM
StratFor's morning bulletin said that the whole deal has been cooking for some eighteen months. The "perp" could have been arrested long ago. He's a penny-ante small time, unconnected to Al Quaida. One of the "fellow conspirators" was an Israeli; one an African (Nigeria?).

Apparently, purely a PR thing, in the arena of "We need some good news, while scaring folks!"

'Rat

mactastic
Aug 14, 2003, 05:42 PM
Here's a Newsweek article (http://msnbc.com/news/952001.asp?0cl=c1) that talks about the sting being an aborted attempt to turn this guy and use him to get to al Qaeda. Apparently their cover was blown by the BBC who got wind of the whole thing and were ready to run with it.

In part:

THE FBI’S ARREST of London-based arms dealer Hemant Lakhani, 68, at a hotel room near Newark Liberty International Airport this week was supposed to be only an interim step in what officials hoped would be a far more meaningful long-term operation, law-enforcement sources said. The bureau’s plan was to quickly flip Lakhani, a British citizen of Indian extraction, and then use him as an undercover informant who could lead agents to real-life Osama bin Laden operatives seeking sophisticated weapons.
But those plans went awry late Tuesday afternoon when the Feds learned that the BBC was about to broadcast a sensational report on Lakhani’s arrest by one of its star correspondents, Tom Mangold. The BBC story, based on an apparent leak from a law-enforcement source, had some key details wrong. For one thing, it falsely claimed that the arms dealer’s attempted sale of a shoulder-fired SA-18 missile and launcher was part of a plot by terrorists to shoot down Air Force One—a target that never actually came up in the discussions.
But even so, U.S. law-enforcement sources tell NEWSWEEK, the damage was done. The FBI had to abort its plan to recruit Lakhani as an informant and instead charged him today in federal court in Newark, N.J., with weapons smuggling and with providing material support to terrorists. Also arrested in the case were two alleged confederates—a New York City jeweler and a Malaysian businessman—who were charged with conspiring to operate an unlicensed money-transfer business.
The U.S. attorney in Newark, Christopher Christie, today called the arrest of Lakhani “an incredible triumph” during a press conference on the courthouse steps.
But in Washington, senior Justice Department officials were “not happy,” said one law-enforcement official. “We didn’t want this to get out before we could determine whether this guy would cooperate or not.” For all the hoopla over the case, the official confirmed, it was essentially a government-arranged “sting” that never involved any contact with actual terrorists.

Desertrat
Aug 14, 2003, 07:51 PM
I've just never understood why any news organization would publicize some information which could lead to deaths, or mess up efforts to catch Bad Guys.

I don't argue against "the public's right to know." However, it seems to me that there are some things I don't NEED to know right NOW.

Seems to me the moral approach for the BBC would have been to say something like, "Okay, we'll be quiet for now. However, you must keep our contact-man abreast of events." Some such deal, anyway.

'Rat

zimv20
Aug 14, 2003, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by Desertrat

Seems to me the moral approach for the BBC would have been to say something like, "Okay, we'll be quiet for now.

it does blow if the BBC spoiled what could have been a fruitful infiltration. however, i doubt the BBC knew enough of the big picture to make an informed moral judgement.

mactastic
Aug 15, 2003, 09:04 AM
The article did say that the story was leaked to the BBC by someone in the law enforcement community. Whoever that was really should have known better than to think they should pass that tidbit along to a reporter as well as the reporter showing some restraint. The BBC blames ABC for running an internal memo that caused them to run with their story so as not to get "scooped" by a rival.