Waiting For Just The Right Criminal, Like Crazy James Medina
May 4, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — According to the Miami Herald, authorities claim to have thwarted an Islamic extremist’s plot to use a weapon of mass destruction against an Aventura, Florida synagogue. It’s not quite that simple, however:
A Hollywood man accused of trying to blow up an Aventura synagogue stood in Miami federal court on Monday and gave the judge two names — one real, the other an alias.
“My name is James Medina, also known as ‘James Muhammad,’ ” Medina told Magistrate Judge William Turnoff.
James G. Medina, 40, was arrested by federal agents on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, 20400 NE 30th Ave., during services on Friday. The actual bomb — sold to him in Hallandale Beach by an FBI undercover operative just before the planned terror attack — was a dummy, authorities said.
Why the article’s author chose to start off by emphasizing Medina’s use of an alias is beyond me. It isn’t like he’s the first convert to Islam to use an alias, and changing his name doesn’t seem to be part of some sophisticated plot to avoid detection.
Like many people in his situation, maybe he just took an Arabic name to blend in. If he wasn’t a scary accused terrorist, had it been a story about Muhammed Ali getting arrested for a minor offense, perhaps, I doubt someone reporting on the initial appearance would’ve highlighting him providing the judge with two names, one real and one an alias.
Furthermore, it’s immediately apparent that Medina’s weapon of mass destruction wasn’t a weapon of mass destruction at all. It was a fake supplied by the FBI, which helped him hatch the plan:
Initially, an FBI confidential source met with Medina and two of his associates in late March and discussed the attack plan for the first time, according to an FBI affidavit. In early April, Medina talked about the timing of the assault with the source, who mistakenly suggested it could be carried out in a couple of weeks on the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur — not realizing the upcoming holiday was Passover.
Medina’s response: “… that’ll be a good day to go and bomb them,” the affidavit said.
There’s something especially bumbling and ridiculous about the FBI’s source and Medina, who supposedly acted in concert to craft a devious terrorist plan, both being unaware of what Jewish holiday event they were actually bombing. Violent extremists being clueless about the subject of their hatred aren’t anything new, but Medina’s situation comes off as something more like the two morons in a car from the Sonic commercials trying to orchestrate an attack. That one of them was working for the feds makes it more embarrassing.
It’s also pretty embarrassing that Medina could only pretend to be part of a real terrorist group:
One of Medina’s associates informed the FBI source that Medina was planning to martyr himself in a firearms attack on the Aventura synagogue, using AK-47 assault rifles — then, the affidavit said, the conversation turned to claiming responsibility for it. Medina said he liked the source’s idea of using the name of a notorious terrorist group — ISIS or al-Qaida-linked Shabaab — to assume responsibility.
“You can, you can do all that,” Medina told the source, who recorded their conversation. “Yeah, we can print up or something and make it look like it’s ISIS here in America. Just like that.”
I’m guessing ISIS isn’t terribly selective, which makes Medina having to feign an association with them that much more pathetic. Also, the evolving plot strongly suggests Medina had about zero chance of orchestrating the next 9/11:
Soon after, the plot shifted to setting off explosives remotely instead of attacking the synagogue in an assault-weapons raid, the affidavit said. Medina conducted surveillance with the FBI source.
It wasn’t like Medina really thought about his target. He didn’t plot in secret for years, go to flight school, coordinate with numerous people over great distances, and do it all without catching the feds’ attentions. He had the hatred part down, but that was about it. He only managed to get a fake bomb, and it came from the FBI.
One can only imagine Medina’s epiphany when he realized he would probably end up dead if he mounted his attack with an AK-47. If that bugged him, being a suicide bomber was probably completely off the table as the next option. So remote detonation of fake explosives supplied by the federal government it was. It probably wasn’t Medina’s real plan as much as it was compromise terrorism.
Looking at Medina’s background, the idea of him being anything other than a loser with a propensity for violence quickly fades:
Medina has had several brushes with the law for minor offenses. But one case sticks out for its potential similarity to the alleged Aventura synagogue bombing plan. In 2012, Medina was accused of texting violent threats to a Coral Springs family and their church.
The texts do indeed make that case seem similar to Medina’s more recent plan:
One text stated, “By next week, Ima bomb ya [curse word] . . . Bring him! I will buy a gun [off] the street and rampage [family member’s] church,” the affidavit said. “Murder she wrote.”
It’s remarkable that no one in the FBI stepped back at some point and considered that Medina is just nuts. Crazy people sometimes talk about doing bad things. Bombing and shooting are the sorts of bad things that will immediately pop into a crazy person’s head. Had the FBI gone to the nearest elementary school and found the most troubled kid, the troubled kid’s participation in crafting a terrorist plot with undercover sources would probably look a lot like Medina’s.
Let’s shoot ‘em! Wait, I might die? Let’s bomb ‘em! A suicide bombing? No way! I can do it from far away, right? Hey, I’ll pretend we’re with ISIS too. Let’s get this started! Yom Kippur’s coming up? Or maybe something else? Meh, either way that sounds good, so let’s do it then.
Medina is a bad guy who’s probably capable of doing bad things. No one should shed any tears over the fact he’s going to be removed from society for some time. We should all be concerned about the circumstances under which he’s being removed from society, however.
Had Medina encountered federal agents trying to enlist help robbing some make believe drug dealers, I bet Medina would’ve bitten. Had he met agents wanting to bomb an abortion clinic, I suspect it would’ve been the same result. That Medina happens to call himself a Muslim made him fit best into the one particular plan the FBI had, but he was really just a criminal in search of a crime.
Really, the FBI created Medina’s crime as well as the scary stuff about weapons of mass destruction surrounding it. If it weren’t for their help, James Medina might still be sending nutty texts to whoever happened to spark his craziness on any given day. And had Medina not stepped up, some other poor lunatic would’ve filled the void.