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July 5, 2013 1:48 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, details began to emerge about a failed attempt to detonate a pressure cooker bomb outside the BC Legislature in Victoria on Canada Day, a day on which few politicians would be present and the lawn packed with families. Independent publication The Tyee examines what role the RCMP played in the bomb plot while reviewing the history of so-called 'honeypot' investigations used by the FBI in the US.
posted by mannequito (40 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit. Just, holy shit. So I'm supposed to believe that self-radicalized unaffiliated ex-punk recovering heroin addicts on social assistance are capable of planning sophisticated bomb attacks and obtaining explosives without RCMP help?!

And this is presented as terrorism? Not as the work of two clearly deranged individuals working without any sort of external ideological framework, but as an honest-to-God terrorist threat.

This is ten flavours of fucked up. This is making me really angry.
posted by sixohsix at 2:57 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


...not to mention, these were supposedly cell-phone-remote activated bombs. So imagine these individuals in their squalid home trying to modify miniaturized surface-mount components in a cell phone with a soldering iron to build detonators. Without assistance.

Imagine these individuals mixing weird chemicals in their home trying to make high explosives, and miraculously not blowing themselves up. Without assistance.

Imagine them going to Wal-Mart to buy pressure cookers, and somehow paying for them without assistance. Even that I find hard to believe.

This is gonna be a shit show when it gets to trial, but chances are the RCMP won't tell us the details of their involvement because blah blah counter-terrorism.
posted by sixohsix at 3:06 AM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


...not to mention, these were supposedly cell-phone-remote activated bombs. So imagine these individuals in their squalid home trying to modify miniaturized surface-mount components in a cell phone with a soldering iron to build detonators. Without assistance.

FWIW, the cell phone detonators I've read about aren't that technically sophisticated; they're essentially made by rubber banding a light/motion detector to a flip phone. When the phone lights up and vibrates, it triggers the detector and boom.

No disagreement about your overall point about RCMP entrapment, though.
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:50 AM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


FWIW, the cell phone detonators I've read about aren't that technically sophisticated; they're essentially made by rubber banding a light/motion detector to a flip phone.

Wow, you wouldn't want to be carrying that when someone accidentally calls a wrong number.
posted by anonymisc at 4:19 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, you wouldn't want to be carrying that when someone accidentally calls a wrong number.

OTOH... maybe the phone goes off, the bomb doesn't, and that's how you discover the RCMP. But first things first... you need to buy a new pair of pants...
posted by anonymisc at 4:25 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was pretty shocked when I found out that entrapment is apparently perfectly legal in Canada (from that case with the group of teenagers in Ontario a few years ago). Not that the FBI pays much attention, but it's at least nominally disallowed in the US.
posted by eviemath at 4:31 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seems like a desperate attempt by the RCMP to be all me-too about the terrorism thing. I guess this is just early enough before budget season so people would remember and renew the fear funding.

Canada's anti-terrorism people can be adorable. I live on the same street where a certain family went to mosque. A couple of times there was a suspiciously new, suspiciously bland car parked on the street, with two suspiciously white guys wearing suspiciously well-pressed civvies inside. Don't they know that the only folks who sit in cars for any length of time in this neighbourhood are teens hotboxing weed? They could at least have pretended to be passing a pipe around.

I waved, once. They scowled. With that, their chances of me picking up Timmy's for them evaporated.
posted by scruss at 4:36 AM on July 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


> FWIW, the cell phone detonators I've read about aren't that technically sophisticated; they're essentially made by rubber banding a light/motion detector to a flip phone. When the phone lights up and vibrates, it triggers the detector and boom.

Hmm, very clever. But there's gotta be more parts to it. A detector is triggered, but then that has to relay a large amount of current/voltage to make a spark, so you'd need some kind of switched capacitor thing... I dunno, still doesn't seem trivial to me.

On a totally unrelated note, why doesn't Metafilter support HTTPS?
posted by sixohsix at 4:46 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


see here, sixohsix.
posted by taz at 4:58 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I vaguely recall that NWA had some insightful words to say on this topic.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:41 AM on July 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is simply ruining the reputations of pressure cookers everywhere. Soon one will need a permit to make soup.
posted by hugbucket at 5:52 AM on July 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hmm, very clever. But there's gotta be more parts to it. A detector is triggered, but then that has to relay a large amount of current/voltage to make a spark, so you'd need some kind of switched capacitor thing... I dunno, still doesn't seem trivial to me.

That's not that hard. Like.... I was making circuits like that when I was 9. it was in an electronics kit, honest!

But honestly, I wouldn't even have bothered with that - it's not hard to tie into the vibrator motor circuit on most cell phones. They're pretty large, comparatively. And then if you set only one caller to vibrate, you don't have to worry about wrong numbers and political pollsters...

Holy shit. Just, holy shit. So I'm supposed to believe that self-radicalized unaffiliated ex-punk recovering heroin addicts on social assistance are capable of planning sophisticated bomb attacks and obtaining explosives without RCMP help?!


That's just it. These things aren't hard to make. If you can build a model rocket, you've probably got most of the expertise necessary to make one. Plus, the materials.
The FBI is really good at catching these people who are wannabe terrorists who, for whatever reason, hate the United States but have no means of committing an act of violence on their own, and they provide everything that they need to move forward on a plot that, were it not for the FBI, they never could've moved forward with...
Were it not for the FBI, yes. Or some other group/individual who wants to use them to deliver actual bombs. On the one hand, fuck tha police. On the other, fuck people who want to blow people up.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:03 AM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's not that hard. Like.... I was making circuits like that when I was 9. it was in an electronics kit, honest!

There are, in fact, kits for this.
posted by eriko at 6:20 AM on July 5, 2013


But we can't lock up everybody who just "want to blow people up". There'd be no room in the prisons for marijuana users.

And I'm speaking as a person who is alive today because one guy who wanted to blow up an IRS office in West L.A. in 1989 with drums of explosives bigger than McVeigh's in Oklahoma City couldn't get his detonator to work. The really dangerous people don't fall for 'honeypots' and the only reason we don't have more atrocities like in Boston is because while there are a scary number of people who want to blow people up, competent people who want to blow people up are almost non-existent. Think about all those years BEFORE "9/11 changed everything". Do you think honestly think they haven't always been out there? I learned in 1989.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:22 AM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aaaaaaaauuuuuugghhhhh, no, this isn't america, fuck off RCMP nobody likes you.

This is so obnoxious. If they use this as an excuse for more bullhit laws I shall... well, there's nothing I can do but I shall be SUPER fucking irritated.
posted by windykites at 6:53 AM on July 5, 2013


quite.
posted by clavdivs at 7:07 AM on July 5, 2013


This is ten flavours of fucked up. This is making me really angry.

Wait till using sidewalk chalk on sidewalks is terrorism.

they're essentially made by rubber banding a light/motion detector to a flip phone. When the phone lights up and vibrates, it triggers the detector and boom.

Really? Well thank you for letting us know bad design is good for the end result of not blowing things up.

On the other, fuck people who want to blow people up.

Now what if said people used to be in the military and join the police on discharge?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:14 AM on July 5, 2013


competent people who want to blow people up are almost non-existent.

Good thing no one has the ability to read, lest they read the various US Army manuals that tell one how to do exactly that.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:18 AM on July 5, 2013


This is simply ruining the reputations of pressure cookers everywhere.

I don't know about that; I realize they're not all bad, but it would give me some peace of mind if a representative of the pressure cooker community formally denounced these actions.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:26 AM on July 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Given that pressure cookers are de facto standard equipment in South Asian kitchens, who would dare come forward and speak up on their behalf lest they be seen in a negative light.
posted by hugbucket at 7:38 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that frustrates me is we spend so much money on stopping bombers, when a bomb is actually a very rare way to be killed in the US, and indeed, in most of the world not in an active military conflict or insurgency.

The highway information signs at home have been cycling a message for about the last year -- the number of traffic deaths in the state. That number was 478 for the year so far yesterday.

Perhaps we should focus on the things more likely to kill us?
posted by eriko at 7:38 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


At first, they came for the pressure cookers, and I said nothing, because I'm a bachelor and live off the grill and microwave.
posted by eriko at 7:39 AM on July 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


The FBI: Spreading the fear continent-wide.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:55 AM on July 5, 2013


I was pretty shocked when I found out that entrapment is apparently perfectly legal in Canada (from that case with the group of teenagers in Ontario a few years ago). Not that the FBI pays much attention, but it's at least nominally disallowed in the US.

(IANAL, so take this with however much salt you think appropriate)

Even in places where entrapment is an allowable defence it is quite difficult to prove and often isn't really founded on solid legal ground. In the US it only exists at all as a consequence of case law, there is neither a constitutional nor a legislative prohibition against it.

Canada has similar case-law to the US on entrapment, though not exactly the same.

In either country affirmative defences in general and entrapment in particular don't usually work. They'd have to prove that they weren't predisposed to commit the crime until they were convinced to do so by the RCMP and that they had to be induced to commit it.

There's two things that will make that defence much more difficult for him:
1) His long history of violence will make it hard to claim that he wouldn't engage in violent acts without being prompted to do so
2) His neighbours apparently overhearing him yelling into his phone about blowing himself up to get into the afterlife.

The burden of proof for an affirmative defence is reversed, so he would have to prove that he was induced to commit this crime that he otherwise would not have committed.

Note that being unable to successfully pull off the crime in question is not a basis for an entrapment defence. Incompetence is not a defence.

I imagine that Ms Korody's lawyers will have her case severed from his at the earliest possible opportunity as she may well be able to raise this or some defence relying on coercion. If I was her lawyer, I'd be praying that there was a history of police reports that I could use to imply that he threatened her with violence because that could be enough for her to get away with a very light sentence.
posted by atrazine at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The word "terrorism" really does cause people's knees to start jerking. Normally I'd expect MeFites to be mad at a guy with a habit of beating the crap out of black people and homosexuals, putting his girlfriend in a veil and quite possibly planning to blow up families. But once you say the word "terrorism", all ire is directed at the police.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:35 AM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


His neighbours apparently overhearing him yelling into his phone

Wow, way to consipire there. Thank god for idiot wannabe murderers, I guess.
posted by Iosephus at 9:30 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The initial reports of this story on the local CBC station sure seem to have been scripted by the RCMP. "Self-actualized Al-Qaida affiliates" indeed. Why would they even use these words without a moment's thought?
posted by sneebler at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Its a cult. This is the real aliens/puppetmasters/bodysnatchers nightmare... subtle, global, insidious
posted by hugbucket at 10:21 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The initial reports of this story on the local CBC station sure seem to have been scripted by the RCMP

The terms "Al-Qaida inspired" and "self-actualized radicals" that every media outlet is using do indeed come from RCMP press releases on the bust. But this is the kind of case that builds careers and guarantees funding, so heavy marketing is to be expected.
posted by rocket88 at 11:04 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are 'self-actualized radicals' at the top of Maslow's radical pyramid?
posted by el io at 12:18 PM on July 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Really? I always thought there were more reliable funding outcomes with threats of gang violence in YOUR community. But maybe it's starting to wear off...
posted by sneebler at 12:53 PM on July 5, 2013


Wow, you wouldn't want to be carrying that when someone accidentally calls a wrong number.

Forget wrong numbers, what about a Reverse 911 message?
When I first heard about Reverse 911, I thought it was used to ring all the phones that are actually in the area (which would easily be possible), but it looks like it only rings phones based on a database listing. I guess they wanted to keep it terrorist friendly?
posted by Chuckles at 3:07 PM on July 5, 2013


So...do we actually have any information one way or the other about the nature or extent of the RCMP's involvement in this case? I mean, The Tyee's "examination" of the issue amounts to nothing more than talking to a US journalist who has studied US cases involving the FBI and who says, in effect, "this looks kinda similar to the way some of the US cases looked." Which means, well, nothing.
posted by yoink at 3:30 PM on July 5, 2013


Good thing no one has the ability to read, lest they read the various US Army manuals that tell one how to do exactly that.

Even with the availability (which most would-be terrorists may be able to read but would have more trouble finding), if the "competent solo terrorists" existed, we'd have McVeigh-style bombings several times a week. Again, in 1989, I was almost a victim of one of the more 'competent'. He even worked in electronics - he got most of his parts from his job, which was what led authorities to him after he DID successfully set one off weeks later in Fresno (even earlier in the morning when nobody was in the building). Yeah, maybe if we'd had the PRISM surveillance systems then, they might have brought him in before his first attempt... along with half of his co-workers in the electronics maker.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:51 PM on July 5, 2013


I live exactly one block from where this happened. In fact, my wife and kids were watching the fireworks there.

But when I heard about this, I never believed for one single minute their lives were in danger. It's just sickening that the RCMP likely helped these fools assemble these "bombs". It's absolutely crazy that the cops could say they had the situation under control, and made sure the "bombs" were neutralized, and yet could say with a straight face that this was a terror plot.

It's just a big PR exercise for the RCMP and Vic Toews.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:02 PM on July 5, 2013


I also find it, if not unbelievable, then deeply depressing that the media hasn't asked more questions. The closest they've come is interviewing various former friends and associates of the plotters, as well as the man's lawyer, who all say these two were having a hard time staying off the street, let alone planning a sophisticated bombing.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:04 PM on July 5, 2013


"The word 'terrorism' really does cause people's knees to start jerking. Normally I'd expect MeFites to be mad at a guy with a habit of beating the crap out of black people and homosexuals, putting his girlfriend in a veil and quite possibly planning to blow up families. But once you say the word 'terrorism', all ire is directed at the police."

This is like saying that mefites are hypocrites because we direct our ire at the police when they shoot an unarmed suspect who was fleeing a robbery. It doesn't mean that we approve of robbers. We expect robbers to rob, it goes without saying. We also expect the police to not shoot unarmed people.

We expect crazy, hateful people to do crazy, hateful things. We'd prefer that the authorities hospitalize them or arrest them for crazy, hateful things they've already done as opposed to suggesting to them new crazy, hateful things to do, supplying them with equipment, and then arresting them when they do it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:15 AM on July 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that frustrates me is we spend so much money on stopping bombers, when a bomb is actually a very rare way to be killed in the US, and indeed, in most of the world not in an active military conflict or insurgency.

Simple. Everyone is used to all those things. Car crashes? Overdoses? They can all be shrugged off.

A bomb that kills 3 people is national news because its SCARY. A bus crash that kills 25 is barely local news. Hell, a small bombing will get more news coverage than a spree shooting.

It's just too flashy for them not to spend a ton of attention on. And the issue isn't their focus, but everyone else's. if they didnt handle it this way people would be outraged.

Their public servants, and for once they're serving the will of the public almost directly. It's an absolute unproductive circle jerk but they get rewarded so much for it that why would they stop?
posted by emptythought at 12:29 PM on July 6, 2013


Ivan: I take your point, but over in MetaTalk, there was just a thread where people by and large said "I will not stop talking about, pointing at, and hating the Westboro Baptist Church! They're vile bigots, and need to be publicly rebuked as often as possible." This guy is a far more vile bigot than anyone at WBC---unlike WBC, he's made a point of violently acting on his bigotry---and because he's been arrested, people are suddenly calling for hospitalization or leaving him alone.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:15 AM on July 7, 2013


Maybe relevant: Canada Day bomb plot said to have elements of entrapment (CBC).
posted by scruss at 6:45 AM on July 11, 2013


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