The Supply and Demand of ‘Terror Plots’


The brave and fearless Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has done it again. They have foiled yet another terror plot, and conveniently just before an election.

Remember the supposed plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge in 2003? Ilyman Faris was an FBI agent who, according to The Telegraph, was "ordered to scout out terror targets, including the New York landmark."

Then there is Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was coaxed into a plan to blow up the Herald Square subway station in 2004. But Siraj claims he was incited to do so by Osama Eldawoody, a NYPD informant.

What about the FBI's 2004 "sting operation involving a fake plot to kill Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations" targeting Mohammed Hossain and Imam Yassin Aref?

This pattern of law enforecement officials relying on traps to foil terrorist attacks continues dozens of more times to the present incident in which Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was contacted by the FBI and given the materials to build a bogus bomb.

In fact, last year a couple of articles were published on the extent of these law enforcement stings, and whether they are foiling plots, or engineering them.

One was by Mother Jones' Trevor Aaronson. In his article "The Informants" Aaronson asks: "The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?"

The other article was published by The Guardian's Paul Harris. Like Aaronson, in Harris's article, "Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI 'entrapment' questioned," he reports on how the "bureau is running a sting operation across America, targeting vulnerable people by luring them into fake terror plots."

It's not just Muslims who are being pulled in to these phony stings. Just last month Rolling Stone magazine wrote on an FBI sting operation in Cleveland targeting Occupy members. In her article "The Plot Against Occupy; How the government turned five stoner misfits into the world's most hapless terrorist cell," Sabrina Rubin Erdely writes that, "Nothing was destined to blow up that night, as it turns out, because the entire plot was actually an elaborate federal sting operation."

Perhaps these incidences should be approached from an economic stand point. One of the most basic features of market economics is Supply and Demand, a model used to show how prices are determined, how many goods and services are produced, how large the work force is, and so on. If supply is high and demand is low then prices will be low. If supply is low and demand is high then prices will be high. If you want to be a seller what you want to do is sell something everyone wants (e.g. I would like a self-cleaning house, or a tree that really does grow money). But the last thing you want to sell is something no one wants. When there is no demand—like shit-flavored ice cream—there is no supply. It's pretty straightforward.

At this point you probably see where I am going with this: What does it say about the threat of "terrorism" when the demand is high (on the part of a government who seems to constantly want to scare us but then reassure us that they are protecting us), but the supply is so low that the FBI has to manufacture it?

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