Were the Newburgh 4 Really Out to Blow Up Synagogues? A Defendant Finally Speaks Out.

Was David Williams IV a terrorist? Or was he just out to make an easy score by scamming the government's informant?

"There was an abundance of evidence supporting the jury's conclusion that the defendants committed the charged crimes, not because they were pressured, persuaded, or enticed by the CI, but because bombing synagogues and firing Stinger missiles was what they wanted to do," they write.

For now, Williams and the rest of the Newburgh 4 can only wait for news from the courthouse. "What we did was stupid, and we deserved and lived up to all the name calls and everything else," Williams writes in that December 31 letter to the Voice. "But from the beginning, we planned to never hurt not one soul. We are far from what the media made us out to be."

On May 20, 2009, when federal agents and police swept in and arrested all four men, the news quickly went national and international. The following day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stood outside a Riverdale synagogue and congratulated the investigation for a job well done.

Family members like Alicia McWilliams say the Newburgh 4 case 
is more FBI fantasy than terrorist takedown.
Lyric Cabral
Family members like Alicia McWilliams say the Newburgh 4 case is more FBI fantasy than terrorist takedown.
Jordin Isip

"The good news here is that the NYPD and the FBI did exactly what they're trained to do and they have prevented what could be a terrible event in our city," Bloomberg told the media the day following the arrests.

Of course, Bloomberg's suggestion that authorities had foiled an actual plot was misleading. There was no real danger. It was all stage-managed by law enforcement.

"These guys were in no way terrorists," says Imam Muhammad, founder of Masjid Al-Iklas, the Newburgh mosque where Hussain went to troll for radical Islamists. "It's unfortunate they could get life in prison for something manufactured by the government, for basically being stupid and going along with what the guy was feeding them."

But as for the tune Williams is now singing—that he was merely led by greed to rip off Hussain—his claims were greeted with skepticism by Anthony Barkow, a former federal prosecutor now teaching at NYU law school.

"It's a very self-serving statement, and it's inconsistent with the entrapment defense at trial," says Barkow, who prosecuted terrorism and white-collar crime with the Justice Department. "Either one or the other is not true, potentially both."

Williams and the other co-defendants had options, Barkow says. "They could have called the police, they could have told the informant to go away," he says. "Now he is saying they wanted to make money. I'm sorry but just because you're a greedy criminal, it doesn't give you the right to get into a deal where you're going to blow up synagogues."

On the other hand, says Karen Greenberg, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at NYU, the claims seem to fit with the fact that none of them were interested in jihad or politics before the informant came along.

"It sounds like a good defense, which is what he should be trying to mount," she says. "It may or may not be credible, but the underlying narrative seems consistent with the narrative of the trial: that they didn't appear to be committed jihadis, they weren't particularly political."

Greenberg points out that none of the most serious terror cases since January 2009 have involved FBI stings—Umar Abdulmutallab (the "underwear bomber"), Malik Hassan (the Fort Hood shooter), David Headley (plotter of the Mumbai attacks), Najibullah Zazi (9/11 anniversary bomb plotter) and Faisal Shahzad (the Times Square attempted car bomber).

"The issue isn't whether you can get convictions like the Newburgh case, because you can," Greenberg says. "The issue is whether these kinds of cases are really making us safer as a matter of national security, and how do we amass the intelligence to determine who's already dangerous? That's where the resources should go."

grayman@villagevoice.com

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22 comments
miguel3
miguel3

Fuck them,Hang them all !

Without Pie
Without Pie

I Got A $399 Xbox 360-250Gb (With Kinect) For $42.12! And My Brother In-Law Snagged A $629 Ipad 3G With Wi-Fi Connection For $71.04. Both Are Being Delivered To Our Homes Tomorrow. I Would Be Such An Idiot To Ever Pay High Retail Prices Again. I Recently Sold A 47-Inch Lg Infinia Slim Tv To A Work Buddy For $1200, I Paid $197.31 For It. There Are Two Sites, Both Are Good, BidsGo.Cöm And Snagbids.Cöm

Crickwall2002
Crickwall2002

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.

upstatetimmy
upstatetimmy

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.

Yikes.

Upword
Upword

They're not terrorists. They just play them on TV. Fooling fools is worth big bucks for politicians and police.

Hamel34
Hamel34

"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.

Joe
Joe

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?

alicia
alicia

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

lyric r. cabral
lyric r. cabral

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."

Erin
Erin

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.

AVIRONE1
AVIRONE1

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!

Evil
Evil

These criminals do not deserve to sit in jail for life, its a huge tax burden and jails are not effective. Fry these fuckers!

stonejacks
stonejacks

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.

suedit
suedit

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.

ghostoflectricity
ghostoflectricity

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.

G
G

$ 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....

alicia
alicia

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

Alicia McWilliams
Alicia McWilliams

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

Lucifer Prometheus
Lucifer Prometheus

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.

Joe
Joe

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...

RICHARDMANN27
RICHARDMANN27

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,

 
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