By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Williams says that the government offered several plea deals to the four defendants. But he turned down those offers, including a final one that would have put him in prison for 13 years. Now, for having gone to trial, he faces life in prison.
"If I really felt guilty, or felt we were actually going to do this [attack], I would have taken the 13 years," he says. "But in my heart, I knew we weren't going to do anything, and so I turned down the offer and went to trial. We just knew we could beat it. The only thing that's important is our intentions—our true intentions—not what the government put out there."
Williams was confident enough that the government's case would fall apart under cross-examination of the informant to turn down the plea deals. The trial verdict was a bitter shock.
"Evidence-wise, we had them beat," he says. "We got convicted on feelings. They [prosecutors] started talking about 9/11, and James was saying a lot of stuff that was ill and real stupid, and we got convicted on that. Once you put 'terrorist' in front of anything, it's like being charged with rape or child molestation. Once a jury hears that you're accused of a certain type of crime, you're already guilty."
Following his arrest, David Williams was sent to Valhalla, a jail in Westchester County, to await trail. He says that he was held in near-isolation, 23 hours a day in his cell, for four months. He was searched twice a day, ordered each time to crouch in the corner of his cell on his knees, cross his legs, put his hands on his head and lean his forehead against the wall.
"[Correction officers] were trying to tear me down for reasons only God and their hearts know," he writes. Westchester "almost broke me mentally."
One officer, telling him his son was half-Jewish, told Williams he wished him 60 years in jail. Officers called him a "radical Taliban." Another said Williams would get the death penalty. Yet another claimed he knocked down the pictures in Williams's cell in case he was hiding "anthrax powder" there. A somewhat more sympathetic correction officer eventually told Williams that they were told to "go hard" on him.
"If I am presumed innocent until proven guilty, why was I feeling the wrath of people's hate, especially when the facts have yet to be told?" he wrote at the time.
Williams's letters from jail are those from a man consumed with regret over being so stupid as to allow himself to be drawn into the scheme to get money out of Hussain. He expresses the fear of rotting away in a super-maximum prison for the rest of his life and of never seeing his children again. He also expresses frustration with some of his relatives, for, as he writes, "turning their backs to me as if I were an enemy of the state."
Williams talks about suing the government for false arrest. He feels "dumb for allowing myself to be in such a jam." He writes that he wants to "expose our government's lies": "We went from convicts, taxpayers, fathers, etc., to terrorists overnight, and we were never terrorists," he writes.
He expresses repeatedly that he will continue to press for his release. He says he is thankful for his supporters—including his aunt, Alicia McWilliams—who has been trying to rally local politicians to get involved. He has allowed his beard to grow as a symbol of that.
"I guess you can say that I'm like a woman when she's pregnant: Emotions are everywhere but where they should be," he writes in a January 25 letter.
In another letter to a loved one, he writes, "I am humbled to hear you understand my reasons for what I did for Lord, and to ask if I would ever do it again, yes, I would just as long as our plan remained the same, meaning no one would be hurt of course. My decision was crazy, emotional, but never will I kill any human beings."
Williams says he was fairly abruptly transferred to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federally run holding facility in Manhattan. The conditions eased somewhat. Now, he was locked down for 18 hours a day, instead of the previous 23 hours.
"Besides the past and some biased words and feelings, I'm treated as a regular inmate, besides being searched everyday, being escorted everywhere, I go around the jail."
More recently, Williams was transferred again, to the federal holding facility in Brooklyn known as Metropolitan Detention Center, and he says things have settled down.
He has taken to writing poetry. He says he has decided to change his name to "King Solomon."
In a more recent letter, dated January 19, 2011, he writes that dwelling on the case "just reopens the wounds of a justice system that has failed its citizens."
The Newburgh 4's hopes currently rest on two things: the goodwill of the federal judge in the case, and a series of motions filed by their lawyers. One of the motions demands dismissal of the case for "outrageous government conduct."
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Thanks! for your article and all the work that went into it. But I read William N. Grigg's piece (ProLibertatae) in October, where he makes it very plausible that this whole thing was a set up, the jury's verdict notwithstanding.
Hussain was also an informant a few years ago in a similar entrapment-style case in Albany--the two guys he "stung" were just average Muslim citizens, who are now doing 15 years hard time.
According to Sch'dy Gazette columnist Carl Strock, Hussain was in hot water for overstepping his bounds as translator for Arabic-speaking people taking DMV license tests--and actuaslly doing the tests for them--and acted as CI in order to make these felony cases go away.
They're not terrorists. They just play them on TV. Fooling fools is worth big bucks for politicians and police.
"we planned to never hurt not one soul," "
Completely at odds with his other statement that he intended to scam the undercover out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I guess they just charged him with the wrong crime.
Did any of them even once call 911 or an anonymous tip line when they thought they had a car full of bombs being delivered to the target?
People don't want to look at what the Government did. this is what they want people to be so blinded by fear will they are criminal and sociopath as will - it take a dame sociopath to manufactured a crime= conspiracy plot's this government dose not have any Intlegrity so they are saving us from what people need to wake the hell up this is our own America dirty War and it will destroy us COINTELPRO All this have been done for thier own self-interest & Unconstitutional political bigoted- HPOCRISY -THSI IS THE AMERICAN DREAM this dame government is Dysfunctonal with it viciouns cycle with WAR Truning on your own Amercan people and use them for war so your short- sighted thinking people keep thinking they saving you until it time for them use your family what a fuck up world we live IN
Since the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, no American citizen has been hurt or injured, on US soil, as the result of "Islamic terrorism" (Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood shooter does not fit traditional definitions of terrorism). Yet, since 9/11, over 120 Americans have been arrested under suspicions of purported terrorism, for crimes where no one was injured. Of these 120 individuals arrested, 49 people were "caught" through the use of a criminal FBI informant. Yet actual terrorism cases, such as those of Umar Farouk Abdul-Mutallab (underwear bomber) and Faizal Shazhad (Times Square bomber), were not investigated nor thwarted by the FBI. The only reason we are now safer is because of the terrorists' human error. The Newburgh Four case illustrates the inefficacy and fiscal waste of using our tax dollars to fund FBI informants, as opposed to investigating genuine national security threats. David Williams IV's story is critical in analyzing the flaws in our national counter terrorism strategies.
"All thinking people oppose terrorism, both international and domestic. But one should not be used to cover the other."- poet Amiri Baraka, from "Somebody Blew up America."
i know onta williams. he is not a terrorist nor a sociopath. these men are convicts/drug dealers yes but they are not killers. without this informant and the government planning the whole thing these guys would never have even thought to do anything so heinous. just because you've been in jail before doesn't make you a terrorist. these guys were not capable of doing this on their own so what is the big deal? they have men who were no threat to th US in jail and tons who are a threat still on the streets. maybe if the FBI worked as hard as they did to get the Newburgh 4 to get REAL terrorists the world would be safer. as far as im concerned this case was a waste of time and money. they should be home with their families not in jail.
Village voice has fired all their legitimate reporters to save money and instead print this crap; UNSUBSCRIBE ME PLEASE AND FROM YOUR NEW GRUPON IMITATION WHICH I DIDN'T ASK FOR AS WELL!
These criminals do not deserve to sit in jail for life, its a huge tax burden and jails are not effective. Fry these fuckers!
Black men account for 38.2% of the prison population but are just 12.4% of the gen'l pop. Poor, undereducated, criminal records, family issues, drugs ...He converted to islam we can only assume for the same reasons anyone else converts or commits. He/They could have taken the plea. - -. They were recruited. The crime was set up for them."he did nothing to further the plot," $250K motive. There was a crime and because of their very poor judgement, they are involved. They are not, however, criminals.
Would one rather back away and wait until after the deal is done? Could you bring back the dead once it occurs? If people would report these threats rather than go along for whatever reason, they would not have to face jail time. Violence is running rampant in the world and our country has suffered for it. Whatever their intent, they are guilty as is anyone who is aware of a crime and for profit ignores what could have been a deadly outcome. For our country to remain safe, it is time to keep ears open and to stop making excuses for criminals. There are many poor who manage to lead honest lives and often succeed because of it.
This guy is a thug and a sociopath. Now he says that he "only" was trying to cheat a govt. informant out of $250,000. But why should anyone believe anything Williams or his fellow thug/sociopaths say? OF COURSE he tries to minimize it now. But, unlike the other commentators on this thread, I don't think threats against Jews are a "joke" to be laughed off. This guy would say/do anything now that his EVIL ass is in a sling to minimize and rationalize what he did. Maybe the FBI ain't perfect, certainly not, but this guy has the credibility of the snake who famously tricked the woman into letting him ride across the river on her back. Anyone who believes a word of this self-serving, violent-minded criminal, who now tries to tell us that murderous threats against the Jews were just part of a "trick," deserves to be snake-bit. I hope he rots in prison for a long time, and then rots in hell.
$ 250,000 and a BMW would tempt many people to play along . Perhaps , when details of these kind of patsy manufacturing and manipulations become well known , it will be more difficult for the Feds to use that tactic .
Recall the Feds and the DA encouraged , financed and even helped build the '93 WTC bomb with their guys Emad Salem , Ali Muhammad and Melvin Latimore - the FEDS are really un-indicted participants in mass murder of American Citizens . Details of Ali Muhammad's involvement in the '93 WTC case and also the African embassies in bombing '98 , was shelved for 40 years by Janet Reno and he was later released by Ashcroft . Salem was paid over a million dollars and Latimore may be drifting around with a government (taxpayers) paycheck....
If people remember the Civil Rights Year in 1954-1965 come out on March, 24, and stand we me outside the court house @ 500 Pearl st It time for us to stop talking about the issues and stand as the people of America, I will stand up for the Injustice in this case, the Government is not Above the we give them the power and they are losing their moral this is essential a lessons for us all on leadership and social justice. for us all as the people of America we do not have no more civil right movement only government movement I will keep making a impact and keep my eyes on the prize
For a short documentary about this important story and other FBI "entrapment" cases targeting Muslims, see Entrapment or Foiling Terror?
This family was use a case that should have never happen right here on America Soil with hollywood producers to manfacture a crime that come right out of the movie in 1997 wag the dog with Dustin Hoffman and Rorbert De Niro right now our polical system is broken and disfunctional selling family off for polical gain and the violation of human right so one have to ask in this case dose the end justify the mean -when our government make Informant above the law and when our own government become above the law insitigating plots which violates our consitutional right we as the people need to take a look at what going on or fear will kill you
Wait- who does scamming money from someone who is presumably tied to Al Queda harm? Al Queda maybe. But What the fuck are you talking about exactly? The real criminals here are the officials who sanctioned this wasteful and malicious entrapment of four random guys.
Dozens of Americans have been injured or hurt by Islamic terrorism on US soil. Nidal Hassan is exactly the definition of terrorism, so does the LA airport shooter by a radical Muslim, the Seattle Jewish center shooting, also a radical Muslim, the numerous cases of Sudden Jihad Syndrome when a Muslim decides to use his vehicle as a weapon and drove into a crowd...
You are insane what is a criminal in your definition,It appears these men lived a life of crime and are typical of the predators that terrorize ordinary Black folk trying to live and raise their children.No it is probably not true that they were jihadists; just low-life criminals. They deserve every year that they are sentenced to which could include life. They did in fact plant what they thought were bombs..They need never see the light of the Black community again where they would continue to rob,and terrorize ordinary hardworking BlACK FOLK,