Is this the Al Qaeda You Fear?

From Scout:

When I have pause to be concerned of a terrorist attack I wouldn’t say I have this ‘Al Qaeda’ in mind. From the Times Leader….

Michael Curtis Reynolds says he’s a patriot.Federal authorities say he’s a terrorist.

The FBI believes that the unemployed Wilkes-Barre man tried to conspire with al-Qaeda to wreck the American economy.

Agents say Reynolds plotted to blowup the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a Pennsylvania pipeline, and a New Jersey refinery. The sensational allegations, disclosed in a federal transcript obtained by The Inquirer on Friday, reveal a convoluted plot that includes cyberspace intrigue, an elaborate FBI sting, and a clandestine money-drop on a deserted Idaho road.

The case also involves a municipal judge from Montana who has devoted the last four years to snaring would-be terrorists online.

Reynolds, 47, has not been publicly charged with terrorism. But a federal prosecutor leveled that accusation during a December court hearing, saying that Reynolds attempted to “provide material aid to al-Qaeda” and that the case “involves a federal offense of terrorism.”

“He was doing it as a plan to disrupt governmental function, to change the government’s actions in foreign countries, and to impact on the national debate about the war,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus Jr. said at the hearing in Wilkes-Barre.

Snip

In the FBI sting two months ago, Reynolds was drawn to a meeting with a purported al-Qaeda operative about 25 miles from the hotel, where he expected to receive $40,000 to finance the alleged plot.

The al-Qaeda contact was actually Shannen Rossmiller, a 36-year-old judge who lives in Conrad, Mont.

She was working for the FBI.”

Yes, that was me in communication with Reynolds,” Rossmiller acknowledged in a telephone interview Friday night. “But I can’t comment further.

“This is not Rossmiller’s first sting. She regularly monitors extremist Muslim Web sites, searching for potential terrorists. In 2004, she helped win a conviction against a National Guardsman in Tacoma, Wash., whom she met online.

Rossmiller met Reynolds online last fall.

Expose al-Qaeda cell

According to the government, Reynolds tried to disavow any intent to conspire with al-Qaeda when he was questioned by FBI agents.

In fact, authorities say Reynolds told them that he, too, was a patriot and intended to expose an al-Qaeda cell inside the United States.

“He claimed he was trying to lure this terrorist group in,” prosecutor Gurganus said in court.

Snip

Authorities said Reynolds’ letters, computer drawings and e-mails spelled out his plot to detonate trucks filled with propane along the Alaskan pipeline. This included “information on explosive devices, site plans and placement of explosive devices.” He also allegedly planned to blow up sections of the Transcontinental Pipeline, a natural-gas pipeline that runs from the Gulf Coast, through Pennsylvania, to New Jersey and New York City.

Snip

“He needed $40,000 to carry out his alleged plot.

The day he was arrested, Reynolds’ net worth was $24.85.

The article goes on to describe Reynolds’ who had been raised in a well to do home as having a life of “rootlessness.” Until last spring he had lived with his mother and tinkered with electronic equipment in his van.

There are an awful lot of Michael Curtis Reynolds’ in America. We usually hope they get the medication they need. When Americans say they may be willing to accede some civil liberties to stop an Al Qaeda attack I doubt its based on their fear of the strange neighbor or annoying panhandler. We’ve faced them off for years. But if this is the government’s plan we’re going to need a bigger Gitmo.