Washington D.C.- The 20 year-old Ohio man charged with plotting to blow up the U.S. Capitol building was a “peace loving, momma’s boy”, according to his father.
Christopher Lee Cornell is from just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. According to federal authorities he was plotting to attack the capitol with pipe bombs and to shoot government officials as they fled the building. According to court documents, his arrest came after he reportedly posted to Twitter his support for Muslim terrorists and then showed his plans to an FBI informant who contacted him. At the end of August, Cornell had allegedly written the informant an instant message saying the two of them should carry out a lone wolf attack as a way of supporting ISIS.
He didn’t think ISIS or al Qaeda would give them an official sign-off, but he felt he didn’t need it. As we have reported, Cornell’s father has told various media outlets including CNN and CBS news that his son was definitely “set up.”
So, is Cornell’s father correct? Is it possible that his son was set up by that FBI informant? Keep in mind, Cornell purchased two AR-15 rifles and 600 rounds of ammo before he was arrested in the parking lot of a gun store in Cincinnati. His father says that Christopher worked seasonal, minimum wage jobs and had saved about $1,200 dollars. The guns and ammo purchased at the store were worth about $1,800 dollars.
There are a lot of questions about this story, including how the informant found Cornell in the first place. How long had they communicated? Who actually posed the idea of the attack? Did Cornell have his own means or the opportunity to carry out such an attack? All of these questions are important because the FBI has made these kinds of arrests over 500 times since 9/11. What we almost never hear, however, is how these arrests are made and the role of the so called informants.
Take for instance the case of 8 “anarchists” who had plotted to blow up a bridge in the Cuayhoga County National Park near Cleveland in 2012. When the case made it to court, it was revealed that the one person in the group who had led the brainstorming of targets, showed them bridges to case out, pushed them to buy C-4 military-grade explosives, provided the contact for weapons, gave them money for the explosives and demanded they develop a plan because “we on the hook” for the weapons… was the FBI informant.
Another example, in 2004 there was the case of Shahawar Siraj who was charged with plotting to blow up a subway station in NYC. Siraj’s attorneys say he was set up because “Siraj had no explosives, no timetable for an attack and little understanding about explosives.”
In fact, they say it was the informant who had pushed for the attack. Most conversations between Siraj and the informant were recorded, except for the very first conversation and other “key” conversations. Those became he said, she said arguments. At one point, Siraj had even said that he needed to talk with his mother before he would have been willing to do anything and that was when the FBI stepped in.
And then there is the case of the Newburgh 4, four black muslim men, sentenced for plotting to blow up a bronx synagogue using car bombs and plotting to fire a stinger missile at US military planes. In an unprecedented case, these men were offered up to $250,000 dollars by the informant to help with the bombing, as well as free vacations to Puerto Rico and expensive cars. The judge in this case, after giving three of the four 25 year sentences, was clear stating “Nothing that any of these men did was the product of any independent motivation on their parts.” “It is beyond question that government created the crime here.”
These are only a few examples. In fact, an investigation in 2011 shows that more than 500 times after 9/11 the government has arrested and charged similar suspects. In 158 of those cases an informant was involved. What’s more, in 49 of those cases the informant is the one who proposes the act of terror and then coordinates the plot.
In the video above, Ben interviews Daniel McAdams, Executive Director for the Ron Paul Institute who says that in some cases the FBI uses the actions of the U.S. government to inflame the suspect and then proposes the plot, ultimately leading to the FBI “thwarting the plot” before it can be executed.